City slickers surging away from title rivals

2021-02-19 12:07:37

    Phil Foden (center) watches his deflected strike find the net for Manchester City's first goal in a 3-1 English Premier League victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday. REUTERS A 10-point lead. A 12-match winning streak. Seventeen straight victories in all competitions.   The numbers are just getting bigger and bigger as Manchester City surges toward another English Premier League title. Everton was the latest team to be brushed aside by Pep Guardiola's side, with City winning 3-1 at Goodison Park on Wednesday to open up its biggest lead yet in the league this season. Making the evening all the sweeter for Guardiola was the sight of his star playmaker, Kevin De Bruyne, back on the field in a brief cameo as a substitute after a month out injured. Everything seems to be falling into place as City closes in on reclaiming the title from Liverpool. "Incredibly satisfied with our mentality," Guardiola said. "A lot of wins in a row but still we have the desire-I see the team playing football, not playing to keep what we have but playing to get more." City was being held 1-1 heading into the final half hour, after Everton forward Richarlison canceled out Phil Foden's 32nd-minute deflected opener, when Riyad Mahrez conjured up the moment of the match. Cutting in from the right, Mahrez took aim from the edge of the area and curled a shot in off the far post to give City the lead again in the 63rd. Bernardo Silva added a third goal in the 77th with a not-too-dissimilar effort, drifting in from the right and firing past Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who got a hand on it but couldn't keep it out. City has won every match it has played since squeezing past Southampton 1-0 on Dec 19, a stunning run that has come while its biggest title rivals-Liverpool and Manchester United-have started to drop away. City's form is all the more remarkable given that the team has played every weekend and midweek since the start of the year, owing to its continued involvement in the two domestic cups. And the schedule isn't getting any easier, with City's Champions League campaign resuming next week and Guardiola revealing that the Premier League has dropped in two games-against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton-in upcoming spare midweeks in late February and early March. Those two games had to be rearranged because City has advanced to the FA Cup quarterfinals and League Cup final. "It's better not to look at the schedule because you get depressed," Guardiola said. "It's too many games. The guys need a little bit of rest. But at the same time, it is a beautiful challenge." United and Leicester City are the nearest challengers, both 10 points adrift, but look unlikely to claw back a such a big cushion given City's relentless form. Everton stayed in seventh place, three points behind Liverpool in sixth. "It was hard, almost impossible,"Toffees manager Carlo Ancelotti said of facing City. "They have quality, power, belief. It is very difficult to compete with them." "It is really difficult to say another name in this moment," added Ancelotti when asked if his side had just been beaten by the champion. "They are in a good form, they have belief and they are strong. We tried to be physical but it is difficult against Rodrigo, (Ruben) Dias and (Aymeric) Laporte." At the other end of the table, avoiding relegation is looking like a more and more realistic prospect for Fulham. A 1-1 draw at Burnley moved Scott Parker's side to within six points of safety. Fulham, which is third-from-bottom, has tightened up considerably at the back after being among the most porous teams early in the season on its return to the top flight. Importantly, Newcastle United-the team above Fulham-recently lost star striker Callum Wilson for up to two months because of injury and suddenly looks well in reach. AP