The Ped Report Leicester City 0-2 City
It`s another "no news is good news" weekend for Manchester City. While the nation`s finest scribes, this one excepted, send themselves into delirium because Pogba has returned for the Stretfords who reached another pinnacle by beating a team with no strikers and injured defenders, the Blue-and-White juggernaut from Manchester purrs on relentlessly. It suits me fine for them only to publish the drivel that Moaning Maureen feeds them and the excuse for what they call football that the team of the same purveyor delivers.
On Planet Etihad things are different. As the Stretfords continue to point to their "history", new history is being designed and created in East Manchester. At City football is being played from another planet, another world.
Last season, an awayday to the fallen champions Leicester City was an unmitigated disaster as City shipped four goals and allowed Vardy, of all people, to claim his only match ball. This season things are different.
It could be said that, last season, there was a result-defining incident in minute one, when Vardy opened the scoring against a flat-footed City defence. It could be said that in more or less minute one of this encounter, there was also a result-defining moment when Kompany, re-installed in the absence of the suspended Otamendi, cut down Vardy, who was potentially in with a goalscoring opportunity, and received only a yellow card. Maybe if it had been red and City would have got whacked, then it would have been worthy of the negative kind of news the scribes love. I, for one, was glad the ref was not Mike Dean, but probably share the view of Matt Le Tissier in that City would probably still have won with ten men.
As expected, once they got into their stride, part of the job was to starve Leicester of the ball and then hit them with a couple of swift jabs to send them to the canvas and in reality that is precisely what happened.
Mahrez, conjuror-in-chief during the Foxes title charge only two seasons ago was largely absent, spending the entire afternoon looking for the ball. Vardy, too, the early exchanges apart became a stranger to the football as it was the defensive end of the team that were busy. In fact, I do not recall a single shot on target for Leicester and the only scare came when a Mahrez cross was cleared for a corner by Kompany. It could just as easily have gone into the net!
But the blue and white waves were foaming once more at the opposite end of the field. Sane was in delicious form and De Bruyne as usual excelled in whatever part of the midfield he found himself, spraying passes around like a Mexican Bandit in a bank.
Sane set up an excellent chance for Silva midway through which brought a decent save out of City reject Schmeichel, but the final laughs were all going to fall to the men in sky blue this time. The big bruisers who had frightened the life out of City`s slick ball players over the last couple of seasons found themselves treading in treacle with cement wellies as one after the other, Sterling, Sane, de Jesus, De Bruyne and Silva ran amok and could easily have punished them by a big score. But it did take City a bit too long to break the deadlock.
When they did, even the Johan Cruyff total-football team would have looked on mesmerised as De Bruyne and Sterling exchanged a couple of neat give-and-goes with Sterling then spreading the defence wide with a pinpoint pass to Silva who unselfishly squared it behind the defence to de Jesus, whose timing was perfect enough to slide the ball home unopposed. Simple. Breathtaking. Total quality.
This ensured that City could take a more relaxed approach to the half time break and set themselves up for a demanding second half. It was to be a second half that started where the first left off once again and had the football purists drooling.
The half was barely minutes old when Leicester hit the post at City`s end. The ball rebounded to Fernandinho who immediately found De Bruyne sprinting towards the Foxes goal. He sent one of those long, searching passes out to Sane who could have been mistaken for Usain Bolt as he reached the pass, collected it, drew the attention of three defenders before sliding the ball back to De Bruyne, 25 yards out. KDB lined it up, changed feet and fired an Exocet into the top corner, giving Schmeichel not a prayer. Job done for today.
This completed the scoring, but it didn`t have to. De Jesus could easily have added to his tally but for an excellent save and a bit of luck from Schmeichel, Silva was once again profligate from a pass by Sane which made his hat trick of near misses.
I seem to say every week that Leicester is another important hurdle cleared for City. I suppose it gets boring, but this is a team that has bullied City relentlessly for more or less two seasons. This time out the bullying was eliminated by not letting Leicester get too close to the ball. This fixture would have been one where those in pursuit might have envisaged a points-drop for City, but not this time.
The only sour note was the magnificent John Stones pulling up with a hamstring injury that will put paid to his 2017 in footballing terms. However with Kompany back, for however long that might be, and Otamendi free from suspension, it is no real weakness until VK`s calf comes calling and it is enter Mangala, or preferably Adarabioyo. With Spuds and Stretford on the horizon early next month, I would have much preferred to have Stones in the team. When you take into account the fragility of Kompany, Guardiola should use him sparingly in the build-up to this busy period which includes a visit to the frozen wastelands of the Ukraine ahead of the match at Sold Trafford.
Chelsea now seem to have found some form, albeit at can`t-buy-a-win West Brom, who will probably be joining the search for a replacement manager in the not too distant. Of course, now Pugba and Uglibrahimovic are back, the Stretfords are going to win the quadruple by Christmas.
Sue is busy screeching at the performances of "her boys", Liverpool who have re-unearthed another Moaning Maureen reject, Salah, who can`t stop scoring for the Reds, and I have to say that apart from City, Liverpool`s forward football is probably the best in the league. They would be a real danger if they could sort out their back line and goal tender.
For me, I hope the newspaper writers continue to ignore City, so that the Blues can simply get on with planning for the next match and hopefully winning it. Feyenoord beware!