Pep Guardiola‘s influence on his side has been undoubted, and Manchester City’s climb towards another Premier League title seems inevitable after yet another convincing league victory.
[ MORE: Harry Kane limps off with ankle injury in Spurs win ]
The Citizens picked up a 2-0 victory against Stoke City on Monday at the bet365 Stadium, bringing the Manchester side up to 81 points on the season — 16 clear of second place Manchester United with eight matches remaining.
Guardiola and Co. can wrap up the PL title with three more wins in their final eight fixtures.
It took just 10 minutes for the PL leaders to break the deadlock, when David Silva comfortably slotted home a Raheem Sterling cross.
The sequence began when Gabriel Jesus brilliantly picked out a through ball to find Sterling down the right wing.
Stoke nearly found an equalizer on 21 minutes when Shaqiri nutmegged Zinchenko, before picking out a pass to Papa Alioune Ndiaye, whose shot was deflected just wide of Ederson and the Man City goal.
Guardiola’s crew looked dangerous in the attack, as per usual, and almost had a second just minutes before halftime when Leroy Sane’s left-footed volley narrowly missed the far post.
Silva’s second came five minutes into the second half, after Jesus found the Spaniard inside the penalty area and the former handled the bouncing pass perfectly before slotting it home. 2-0.
The pressure continued from City after the second goal, with Sterling and Sane both coming close on separate sequences.
Maxim Choupo-Moting had a great chance for the hosts to pull one back in the 64th minute after a frantic moment in the box, but the attacker’s final touch was blasted well over the crossbar.
- Man City beat Stoke 7-2 on Oct. 14
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Manchester City can eclipse the 80-point mark and extend its Premier League table lead back to 18 with a win at relegation-threatened Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Man City has is unbeaten in four matches with Stoke, outscoring the Potters 15-3 in three wins.
WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE
The latest of those was a 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium, with Gabriel Jesus scoring twice, plus goals from Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva.
Jesus figures to feature again, as Sergio Aguero announced he’s set for a couple weeks on the sidelines after picking up a knee injury in training.
Stoke is a point back of safety but carries the worst goal differential in the league, but has improved its defensive record in recent weeks. Paul Lambert‘s men have three clean sheets and just one loss — albeit with one win — in their last six.
What they’re saying
Kostas Stafylidis of Stoke on facing the leaders: “We have to fight, fight, fight for… 90 minutes, 98 minutes, or I don’t know how many. Of course it’s going to be hard, they are the best team in England, one of the best in Europe, but in the Premier League you never know.”
Man City’s Guardiola on building the team: “The club is good because now it is easy to say it is going well but it happened the same last season. That means a lot to me. In the bad moments I saw how the club reacted and supported me and when I wanted to talk about plans for the future they were there. There were no doubts about that. We had doubts because we didn’t win but not doubts about what we had to do.”
Stoke’s aforementioned and improved defensive record hasn’t come against a run of world beaters, and Man City should be too much. Gabriel Jesus is unleashed with a pair of goals in a 2-0 win.
Pep Guardiola has been fined by the English Football Association after he accepted his charge for wearing a political message.
Manchester City’s manager was fined $27,750 by the FA after he continued to wear a yellow ribbon on his jacket to support the Catalan Independence movement. The FA say he it was a “breach of kit and advertising regulations.”
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Guardiola, a Catalan native, has been showing his support for politicians who are either in exile or have been imprisoned for their involvement in the independence vote which was deemed illegal by the Spanish government.
Speaking about this subject after City’s League Cup win against Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley, Guardiola was in defiant mood and said he will continue to wear the ribbon.
“They [the FA] know I will wear it always. I can wear it somewhere else. UEFA have another opinion. They say you can wear it as long as it’s with respect. Here [in England] it’s different apparently,” Guardiola said. “I have empathy for the people who have no freedom, those guys in Spain who are in jail. They haven’t been proven guilty. Anyone can be in that situation.”
“Before being a football manager I am a human being and this is for humanity. You did Brexit. You allowed Scotland to have a referendum about if (they) want to stay or not. And, after, the people vote. There are four guys in prison and other guys, they don’t have weapons, just votes in the ballot. I said this is always with me and it always will be until the last. I will accept whatever they [the FA] decide about my behavior. It’s not a lack of respect, it’s being part of humanity.”
The FA’s stance is a strong one and some have criticized them for hypocrisy after they were fined by FIFA for wearing Poppies on their shirt for international games. That ruling has since been overturned by FIFA but the FA haven’t helped themselves out when it comes to this situation.
Earlier this week their Chief Executive Martin Glenn apologized as when discussing Guardiola’s situation he drew comparisons with the Star of David, a Swastika and Robert Mugabe.
Pep Guardiola is a little bothered by Manchester City’s second leg loss to Basel, as inconsequential as it should stand in the great scheme of things.
City lost its first home match since 2016 on Wednesday but still advanced to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals with a 5-2 aggregate win over Basel.
[ MORE: Spurs 1-2 Juve | 3 things from Wembley ]
And while the hosts did have a stylish goal from Leroy Sane to Bernardo Silva to Gabriel Jesus — Watch that here — Guardiola says there was an absence of intention from his men for most of the match. From the BBC:
“The first half was quite good but in the second half we forgot to attack, we forgot to play. When we pass the ball we do it to move through the opponents to attack – just to pass the ball for itself (like we did) is nothing and the second half was really, really poor.
“It is not easy to play with a 4-0 lead. We tried, we spoke about that and I think what we showed in the first half we showed we wanted to win the game. We created a lot of chances and we were good. But after 1-1 in the second half, it didn’t happen. We just passed for itself and when that happens, that is not football.”
City heads to Stoke City next. The draw for the UCL quarters is March 16, and the legs will be played April 3-4 and 10-11.
While Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matches promised very little drama aside from how Paris would react when Neymar-less PSG failed to top Real Madrid, Wednesday’s at least throw us a bone.
[ MORE: UCL Tues. recap | Klopp reacts ]
Spurs welcome Juventus to Wembley Stadium in what will be a full-throated and potentially record-breaking crowd. The North London side enters the 2:45 p.m. ET kickoff with a pair of potentially critical away goals but a 2-2 deadlock with The Old Lady.
Speaking of Juve, Paulo Dybala was unavailable for the first leg but he’s here now. The bad news is that Gonzalo Higuain, author of both Juve goals in this tie, has ankle problems.
Spurs backstop Hugo Lloris will stare across the field and see legendary Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon, who himself has history on his mind, praising Wembley as a “historic theater of football.”
Here’s Buffon on Tottenham:
“I think Spurs quite clearly have lots of great attributes with a tried and trusted style of play which means they like to go forward in an attacking way, be physical and be technical as well. At the same time, they have a style of play which also allows the opposition a few openings and opportunities for a goal, so I think the fans are in for a treat tomorrow and a great game. The team that has the best clinical edge will be the ones that win and goes on to the next round.”
The other Wednesday second leg sees Basel head to the Etihad Stadium down four goals to Manchester City, who hasn’t allowed four goals at home since a November 2015 loss to Liverpool.
City boss Pep Guardiola isn’t looking at the score line, at least not too often, as he continues to focus on how his men execute his system.
“How we control the game, how we create. Maybe tomorrow it’s more important nothing happens but we don’t concede, set pieces or counter attacks. We play simple. It’s a good moment to see how we can handle the situation for our future.”
The match at the Etihad also kicks off at 2:45 p.m. ET.