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Monday, March 4, 2024

Man City beat Blades to close gap at the top

Man City beat Blades to close gap at the top


Rodri scored City’s late winner when they beat Sheffield United in August, and opened the scoring early on this time, with his fifth goal of the season

Manchester City ended a stellar year on a high note by beating a battling Sheffield United side to move within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Rodri gave the defending champions an early breakthrough when he latched on to Phil Foden’s neat pass and fired into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the area.

The Blades’ packed defence meant City had to wait to add a second but Foden was the provider again when it arrived midway through the second half, with his low cross despatched by Julian Alvarez.

City, who were crowned Fifa Club World Cup winners before Christmas, displayed all five of the major trophies they have won in 2023 on the pitch before kick-off.

It was a reminder to their rivals that they remain the team to beat this season, and so was the sight of Kevin de Bruyne in their squad after more than four months out with a hamstring injury.

The Belgium midfielder did not make it on to the pitch this time, but the sight of him warming up on the touchline in the second half brought huge cheers from the home fans.

In contrast, the Sheffield United fans had little to get excited about, as their side offered little in attack other than a flurry of chances just before the break.

Defeat felt inevitable as soon as City scored their second goal, and Chris Wilder’s side remain bottom of the table, and without an away win this season.

City chasing more glory in 2024

Picture of Man City's five trophies
The five trophies Manchester City won in 2023 were on display before kick-off

City had dropped points through conceding late equalisers in each of their past three home league games, but there was never any danger of a repeat of that here.

As well as the victory, which means they have secured back-to-back league wins for the first time since the start of November, they also had a first clean sheet in eight games to celebrate.

It had already been a productive festive period for Pep Guardiola’s side, who saw all the teams above them drop points, and they appear to have put any talk of a pre-Christmas crisis well behind them.

City can look back with pride at their achievements in 2023, but they have lots to look forward to in 2024.

De Bruyne’s seemingly imminent return to action is a major boost and they will hope to welcome Erling Haaland and Jeremy Doku back from injury in January, as they push on in search of more silverware.

Blades show spirit but lack quality

While Sheffield United showed plenty of spirit here, they were clearly short of sufficient quality to seriously trouble their hosts.

The Blades end the year bottom of the table and they must make history if they are to stay up from here, as no Premier League team has managed that after earning so few points after 20 games.

It is difficult to assess exactly where Chris Wilder needs reinforcements going on this display, given the gulf between these two sides.

But the fact that, so far, they have so far scored the fewest goals in the top flight, as well as conceding the most, suggests improvements are needed all over the pitch when the January transfer window opens, if they are to have any hope of survival.

Player of the match

FodenPhil Foden

Sheffield United

  1. Squad number35Player nameBrooks

  2. Squad number14Player nameThomas

  3. Squad number20Player nameBogle

  4. Squad number32Player nameOsula

  5. Squad number21Player nameVinicius Souza

  6. Squad number5Player nameTrusty

  7. Squad number16Player nameNorwood

  8. Squad number2Player nameBaldock

  9. Squad number19Player nameRobinson

  10. Squad number18Player nameFoderingham

  11. Squad number25Player nameBen Slimane

  12. Squad number10Player nameArcher

  13. Squad number7Player nameBrewster

  14. Squad number23Player nameOsborn

  15. Squad number33Player nameNorrington-Davies

Line-ups

Man City

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 31Ederson
  • 2WalkerSubstituted forLewisat 68′minutes
  • 25Akanji
  • 6Aké
  • 24Gvardiol
  • 8KovacicBooked at 43minsSubstituted forRúben Diasat 68′minutes
  • 16Rodri
  • 20Bernardo Silva
  • 47Foden
  • 10GrealishSubstituted forBobbat 52′minutes
  • 19Álvarez

Substitutes

  • 3Rúben Dias
  • 4Phillips
  • 17De Bruyne
  • 18Ortega
  • 21Gómez
  • 27Nunes
  • 52Bobb
  • 82Lewis
  • 92Hamilton

Sheff Utd

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 18Foderingham
  • 2Baldock
  • 19Robinson
  • 5Trusty
  • 20BogleBooked at 89mins
  • 16Norwood
  • 21de Souza Costa
  • 14ThomasSubstituted forNorrington-Daviesat 90′minutes
  • 25Ben SlimaneSubstituted forBrewsterat 67′minutes
  • 35BrooksSubstituted forOsbornat 80′minutes
  • 32OsulaSubstituted forArcherat 67′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Davies
  • 7Brewster
  • 9McBurnie
  • 10Archer
  • 11Traoré
  • 23Osborn
  • 27Larouci
  • 33Norrington-Davies
  • 38Seriki

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