LONDON, Nov 6 – Manchester City sent a message to the rest of the Premier League yesterday as they opened up an ‘unassailable’ two-point gap at the top of the table with victory over Southampton.
City winger Raheem Sterling produced a man-of-the-match performance in the win, prompting him to be heralded as the ‘best English player in the league right now.’
That is the view of the Mirror’s John Cross, who says people questioning the value of Sterling’s rumoured new £300,000-a-week contract only need to look at the winger’s showing on Sunday to see that he is fully deserving of that money.
Sterling scored two and assisted two of City’s six goals, and one moment stood out as typical of City’s dominance against Southampton.
Cross writes: “if you really wanted a taste of City’s dominance then there was an excruciating period of play in the first half with City already 3-1 up.
“Aguero nutmegged and turned a defender inside out, they could not get close to Sane’s one touch brilliance and then Sterling was almost trying to dribble the ball into the net.
“For once, City could not find a way through but Southampton were almost standing back admiring which must have driven Mark Hughes to distraction but the truth was they could not get close enough to make a tackle.”
It is the ability across City’s squad that gives them the edge in the title race, according to Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail.
He says: “it will be a surprise if [Pep] Guardiola’s team don’t succesfully defend their title. Liverpool have started impressively and have improved. But City — 25 points ahead of Liverpool last time round — have improved too.
“City’s squad is now so deep it can absorb the loss of a player like Kevin De Bruyne. It sounds strange, but they did not miss the Belgian here. Sterling was the game’s best player with Aguero not far behind.
“There is an impressive appetite about them and you could see it in every touch, every tackle and every sprint off the ball.”