Stoke City, Tuesday
So now Manchester City know exactly how close they are. Two more wins and they will be Premier League champions. First they go to Everton and then they play Manchester United at home.
So City could seal the title with their neighbours in attendance. Pep Guardiola could lift the trophy while Jose Mourinho watches. Even by the dramatic standards of English football, that would be quite something.
Watching City at Stoke, it was hard not to think that is exactly how this will work out. At the moment it is just too much of a stretch to imagine City losing. Nights like this are supposed to be difficult.
Stoke City have long since been tricky opponents at home, especially when their supporters get going as they did on Tuesday night. But here City made their night’s work look incredibly straight forward.
They scored two goals – David Silva scoring early in each half – but there were at least half a dozen other good chances. So two could have been three or four or five or six or whatever. Had they really needed to score more then they surely would have done.
It is rare to see a team exhibit such control in a Premier League game. This is a league that prides itself on its competiveness but at times this season City have changed that outlook a little. Ahead of their game at Everton on March 31, the home team are currently in the region of 12/1 to win. This, remember, is a team that beat City 4-0 at Goodison last season.
That says everything about what has happened on Guardiola’s watch since then. After this game Guardiola would not talk too much about what could happen when City host United on April 7.
As he lands with his players for warm weather training in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, however, he will be very aware of the opportunity awaiting him. On Tuesday night his players spoke for him anyway. They were not particularly at their exhilarating best throughout. We have seen them play better. -AFP