West Brom – Manchester City: Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City made amends for a shocking draw against West Bromwich Albion last month with an emphatic 5-0 pounding on Tuesday at the Hawthorns.
The final whistle went but City may still be scoring, and this may mark a pivotal day in the title race as Guardiola’s men went top of the table despite the absences of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
Ilkay Gundogan scored twice and both Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez had a goal and an assist in joining Joao Cancelo on the score sheet.
City’s the first team to 41 points, one better than Manchester United and three clear of Leicester City. Each has played 19 games.
West Brom is six points back of 17th-place Brighton after 20 matches and has now conceded 48 goals. The Baggies boasted a surprising 1-1 draw with City at the Etihad, but that result saw Slaven Bilic fired and Allardyce hired.
Three things we learned from West Brom – Manchester City
1. No KDB no problem: Pep Guardiola’s Man City splendid attack takes some time to learn, but the beauty of having such a demanding boss overseeing a complex system is that components — aside from center forward — know their roles. Guardiola allows his best player, Kevin De Bruyne, a lot of freedom and there’s a bit less of that when the Belgian is injured. He’s going to miss some big games but City has won a title in the past when he suffered a long-term injury. There was no competition for the table-ascending leaders at the Hawthorns, as City had all of the ball, all of the chances, and all of the ideas.
2. Gundogan in a pure run of form: Ilkay Gundogan watched the 0-0 draw versus Manchester United from the bench on Dec. 12. He’s since started eight-straight league games in three different positions and potted seven goals. Gundogan had once scored six goals in a league season, back in 2018-19 with City, but hasn’t hit seven in a campaign since he scored 10 for Bochum’s U-19s. Incredible form.
3. None of the defense, just as many points: West Brom’s 48 goals allowed is, no surprise, a league-worst number. Seven PL sides allowed less than 48 goals last season. The Baggies are now 1W-1D-5L under Allardyce with five goals scored and 22 allowed, and the first repeat customer of West Brom’s season has flipped the script in a bad way from the first meeting.
Big Sam v Big Slaven at West Brom this season
Goals per game: 0.71 v. 0.76
Goals allowed/game: 3.14 v. 2.0
Points per game: 0.57 v. 0.53
Regardless of how you feel about the change, this is too easy for the defense of a man who’s probably earned more “He’ll get them playing right” plaudits than any hire in football history.
Man of the Match: Ilkay Gundogan
West Brom – Manchester City recap
An in-form Gundogan lashed a 17-yard shot past Sam Johnstone early, and it was 2-0 within 20 minutes when City beat the offside trap and Joao Cancelo slotted from the chalk atop the box.
VAR awarded the goal and it was three when Gundogan bodied his mark and cut past a defender with class for his seventh goal of the season.
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Mahrez finished the 45-minute rout when he darted untouched through the 18 to smash past Johnstone, and there was another goal after the break as City had it 5-0 before the hour mark and freely substituted ahead of Sheffield United and Burnley.