For months now, it has not been a question of if. It has been a question of when. And after another stylish victory on Saturday, Manchester City’s answer could be a fitting one.
It could come in the Manchester Derby next Saturday. A victory would not only be symbolic of City’s season-long superiority over its cross-town rivals and the rest of England; it would clinch the Premier League title with two months to spare.
The Citizens enabled the possibility with a 3-1 triumph over Everton on Saturday, their 27th win in 31 matches. They scored early and often, then cruised. They conjured goals demonstrative of their consistent excellence.
Leroy Sane slammed home the first, catching a David Silva cross on the side volley as sweetly as one can.
They then carved up the woeful Toffees straight from a goal kick. They went from one end to the other in less than 10 seconds. Sane embarrassed Phil Jagielka. Kevin De Bruyne sprinted two-thirds the length of the pitch, then put the second goal on a platter for Gabriel Jesus.
Raheem Sterling swept home the third, again with Jordan Pickford at his mercy.
City was aided by Everton, as dysfunctional as ever. Sam Allardyce fielded Wayne Rooney as a holding midfielder, somehow imagining a non-existent scenario where the aging striker wouldn’t be an utter liability against the soon-to-be champs.
But there wasn’t much Big Sam could have done to resist a team that has on so many occasions been described as “irresistible.”
Now it’s Jose Mourinho’s turn to try, and he’ll have to be successful to avoid playing the role of spectator to a title party that isn’t his. But if the soccer gods have any sense of poetic justice, they’ll schedule that party and give it the all clear.
Pep Guardiola and City have lit up the Premier League with football that is both attractive and ruthlessly effective. Mourinho’s United has been neither. A title-clinching victory for the former over the latter wouldn’t be proof of one style’s supremacy over the other. But it would be a just reward for the best team in Premier League history, and for a manager who has changed the sport for good.
– – – – – – –