Delph shines as City record third successive clean sheet
FA Premier League
Saturday 16 January 2016, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Demichelis, Kolarov (Clichy 53), Fernando, Delph, Silva, De Bruyne, Aguero (Navas 86), Iheanacho (Toure 57)
Unused: Caballero, Sagna, Sterling, Humphreys
Goals: Delph (22), Aguero (41, 69), Silva (84)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Man of the match: Delph
A comfortable 4-0 victory saw City return to the top of the Premier League table on Saturday afternoon, albeit briefly - draws for Leicester and Arsenal saw them subsequently leapfrog the Blues, but the gap is now just one point and the title race is wide open. As expected, Manuel Pellegrini made a number of changes here with Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, Fabian Delph, and Kelechi Iheanacho recalled to the starting line-up.
Palace started well, and had a golden opportunity to take the lead after just two minutes, but Damien Delay headed straight at Joe Hart with the goal at his mercy. It was a missed chance that they would rue, as Fabian Delph gave City the lead after 22 minutes. There appeared to be little danger when the midfielder picked the ball up inside the Palace half, but his powerful low drive found the bottom corner of Wayne Hennessey's net. It was a well struck shot, but Henessey will have been disappointed to be beaten at his near post from such distance.
City were far from their best in the opening half, but doubled their advantage just before the break when Sergio Aguero's shot deflected off Scott Dann giving Hennessey no chance. It was harsh on the visitors, but effectively ended the game as a contest. Palace's spirits were further dampened by the miserable conditions, with heavy snow greeting the start of the second half.
City's injury woes continued as Aleksandar Kolarov was forced off with a calf injury after 53 minutes, but a fine team goal fifteen minutes later helped lift the mood as Aguero was on hand to convert Kevin De Bruyne's cross.
Aguero had an opportunity to secure a hatrick six minutes from time as he raced clear of Joel Ward, but the Argentinian unselfishly squared the ball for David Silva to tap into an empty net.
It was a satisfying day for Pellegrini, who saw his much maligned defence keep a clean sheet for the third successive game. Tougher tests lie ahead, of course, but the Chilean will be quietly confident about his team's chances of succes in the second half of the season if they can maintain this form.