EVERTON 1, MAN CITY 3
Manchester City set yet another record as they surged 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League following an impressive victory at Everton.
This time Pep Guardiola’s side became the first in history to post 10 straight league wins at the start of a calendar year as Manchester United and Leicester City were left further behind in their slipstream.
Goals from Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez made it 17 straight wins in all competitions – 12 in the league – and stretched their unbeaten run to 24 games.
This was the game which was played 51 days late because of a Covid enforced postponement in December.
At that time, City and Everton were on level points but, after this success, they are 19 clear of the Toffees as their title bid is rapidly becoming a procession.
They enjoyed 71 per cent possession at Goodison Park where they had 15 goal attempts to only three by the hosts.
The only blemish was the goal City conceded, their first from open play in the league for 45 days as Everton now have won only once in their last six matches.
It was their third straight home defeat which equals the worst run in Carlo Ancelotti’s managerial career.Embed from Getty Images
Goalscorer Mahrez said: “It was a good performance, we played good again. It is a shame to concede the goal in the first half, but we haven’t conceded many.
“We tried to pass and move to find space to score the goal. We [himself and Bernardo Silva] have always had a good connection, we don’t even need to speak to each other we know where we are. We all know each other.
“We train so well we know the movement. When you keep winning and scoring goals the confidence grows. It is difficult for the opponent. We are in a very good moment.
“I don’t know about the title we only think about the next game – Arsenal.”
Guardiola added: “They are well organised, but we had the patience to attack them. It was well deserved.
“That is our identity. When you win a lot of games everyone wants to beat you and it is tricky. I have not seen that the team is thinking of the table, we have spoken about that. We are not here to defend our lead, it is all about three points, three points.
“There are 42 points still to fight for, we are in the middle of February. Now we rest for a few days, there are so many games.
“Kevin and Sergio are back, it is incredible news for us.”
In-form Ilkay Gundogan was ruled out with a groin problem, while Oleksandr Zinchenko and ex-Everton defender John Stones were on the bench as Guardiola made three changes to the City side that started the win over Tottenham at the weekend.
Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Mahrez all returned to the side while Kevin de Bruyne, who has not featured since January 20 because of injury, was on a strong bench along with Sergio Aguero.
Keeper Jordan Pickford made his first Everton appearance since January 30 after recovering from a rib injury.
Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Alex Iwobi were also back as Ancelotti reacted to last Sunday’s home defeat to Fulham by making four changes,
Robin Olsen, Seamus Coleman, James Rodriguez and Andre Gomes all dropped to the bench and there was no Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was ruled out through injury.
Pickford was called into action in the second minute to push away a drive from Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus blazed over when through on goal and pursued by Keane.
Everton were forced into an early change when Seamus Coleman replaced the injured Mina.
City made the breakthrough in the 32nd minute through a deflected shot from Foden which diverted off Coleman to send Pickford the wrong way.
It came from a Mahrez cross which had been headed out by Keane and was Foden’s 11th goal of the season.
Everton displayed resilience to equalise five minutes later from Coleman’s cross.
Lucas Digne’s volley across the face of goal struck the far post and the rebound went in off Richarlison who knew little about his ninth goal of the season which was from less than one yard out.
Pickford needed to be alert soon after the restart to keep out a low shot from Bernardo Silva while Jesus blazed over for a second time and Rodri headed wide from a Foden corner as City looked to regain their lead.
City’s pressure eventually paid off as they went back in front in the 63rd minute as Silva set up Mahrez who stepped inside before bending a shot into the far corner, an exquisite seventh goal of the season.
Everton summoned Colombian James Rodriguez and Joshua King as they needed extra firepower if they were to get back into the match.
City sealed victory when Silva added a third goal with 13 minutes left.
A neat passing move ended with Jesus setting up Silva who drilled a shot low to the right of Pickford for his fourth of the season.
And if Everton didn’t think matters could get worse, Guadiola brought on De Bruyne for Sterling.
City made a third change in stoppage time as Rodri made way for Fernandinho.
They might have added a fourth goal but Mahrez’s shot flashed just wide of the upright.