Manchester City will win the Premier League if they beat arch-rivals Manchester United in the derby at Etihad Stadium next Saturday after the easiest of victories at Everton.
Manager Pep Guardiola had failed to record a victory against Everton in three matches before this visit to Goodison Park – but this result was never in doubt from the moment Leroy Sane volleyed home David Silva’s cross after four minutes.
Everton barely mounted even token resistance and City had effectively restored their 16-point advantage at the top of the table by half-time after Gabriel Jesus headed in Kevin de Bruyne’s cross and Raheem Sterling applied a simple finish to another Silva delivery.
Yannick Bolasie pulled a goal back for Everton after the break when he fired in via a post from 20 yards but this was a minor interruption to City’s serene progress and they now have the opportunity to reclaim the title in circumstances they will relish when Jose Mourinho brings his Manchester United side to Etihad Stadium.
Man City’s easy ride towards the title
Guardiola has had his problems against Everton since arriving in the Premier League, with three games without a win – including a 4-0 thrashing here at Goodison Park last season.
It was against this backdrop that City and Guardiola approached this fixture with a measure of caution, an approach they were able to put behind them as early as the fourth minute when Sane volleyed them into the lead.
If Everton had a plan to put City under pressure, the statistics for the first half alone were a monument to how successfully they were able to deal with any problems Sam Allardyce had hoped to pose them.
When Sterling swept home City’s third eight minutes before the interval, they had enjoyed a remarkable 84% possession, although some expressed surprise that embarrassed Everton’s share was so high.
And in that one-sided first half, Manchester City midfield man Fernandinho completed 62 passes while the entire Everton team completed only 64. The Brazilian finished with 14.5% possession himself while the whole Everton team managed 17.9%.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 31, 2018
City, with Silva the superb orchestrator, operated on cruise control throughout – barely breaking sweat to close in on the Premier League and, significantly, not taking too much out of themselves ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Liverpool at Anfield.
On so many levels, this was the perfect warm-up for that game and the derby at Etihad Stadium against Manchester United next Saturday night that could see City win the Premier League in the sweetest of circumstances.
David Silva’s immaculate service
Kevin de Bruyne has rightly claimed huge plaudits for his contribution to Manchester City’s runaway title success – but he has been ably assisted by Guardiola’s little magician Silva.
The 32-year-old Spain international simply gets better with every passing Premier League season; the £24m City paid to Valencia in July 2010 now looking one of the great bargains.
Silva pulled all the strings here at Goodison Park, from the moment he showed sublime technique and vision to control a pass before sending a perfect cross to the far post for Sane to volley City in front.
All City’s big players played their part but Silva was at the heart of it, having the time and space all world-class performers can make for themselves. He not only ensures he had several options every time he receives possession, he has the happy knack of then choosing the right one.
Manchester City’s procession to the title has had many key contributors – and Silva is right up there with them.