Two goals in the first 10 minutes gave Monday’s match between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion a very early academic feel, and the Baggies were only able to add drama for about 20 minutes en route to a 3-1 loss.
The biggest story for City comes via health, as it may have to attempt its run at the Premier League title without David Silva. The flashy Spaniard was stretchered off after suffering an ankle injury late in the second half.
Sixteenth-place West Brom has still played one less match than 18th place Cardiff City and 19th place Fulham, and leads both by three points in the race for Premier League survival.
Meanwhile, City pulls to within six points of No. 1 Liverpool and one of No. 2 Chelsea. The Citizens have played one less match than both the Reds and Blues.
It started very poorly for West Brom, as Pablo Zabaleta headed home after Ben Foster saved Sergio Aguero’s third-minute shot, and Aguero doubled the lead just seven minutes later with a shot from just outside the 18.
But Graham Dorrans put the Baggies right back in the match with a juggling goal off a counterattack to make it 2-1 in the 16th minute. Dorrans made amends for a poor first touch by popping the ball over his mark before striking low past Joe Hart.
Martin Demichelis restored the two-goal lead in the 36th minute when he slipped by Jonas Olsson and easily scored after Vincent Kompany flicked Samir Nasri’s corner to the back post.
Stephane Sessegnon almost pulled back a goal with a point-blank shot that was deflected over by Kompany.
The second half was less than thrilling, with City’s threat more or less removed by the injury to Silva and removal of Aguero. For whatever reason, West Brom did not play the role of aggressor in seeking out goals and there were precious few chances between the sides as the game played out.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Silva (Milner, 70′), Garcia, Fernandinho, Nasri; Dzeko (Kolarov, 89′), Aguero (Jovetic, 64′)
Goals: Zabaleta (3), Aguero (10), Demichelis (36)
West Bromwich Albion: Foster; Jones, Dawson, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu (Morrison, 84′), Dorrans; Brunt, Sessegnon (Berahino, 76′), Amalfitano; Vydra (Anichebe, 60′)
Goals: Dorrans (16)