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Man City 5-1 Leicester: Super Sergio Dazzles As De Bruyne Delights

 • by Andrew Gibney
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Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to 16 points after dispatching Leicester City 5-1 on Saturday evening.

Raheem Sterling made it 1-0 quickly, with only three minutes on the clock and for spells in the first-half the game was at walking pace.

Jamie Vardy nicked one back on the counter and Claude Puel would have been very happy at the break.

Their sheer petulance to score at the Etihad Stadium only spurred City on and Sergio Agüero made them pay. Four second half goals from the Argentinean striker, including a stunner for the fourth, sealed the victory, taking his league total to 21 for the season.

Agüero will grab the headlines, but he wasn’t the main attraction, here are five thing we took for City’s 5-1 win over

Kevin the hat-trick magician

Agüero may have scored four times on Saturday, but behind the goals was City’s Belgian wizard, Kevin de Bruyne.

Twice, minutes into the first and second half, De Bruyne conjured out a moment of perfection to help City take the lead at the Etihad.

Working space out wide, first on the right, then on the left, he linked up with Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling to fashion two beautiful crosses.

Both were played into the corridor of uncertainty, the first was a curling out-swinger which found Sterling unmarked and the second was played with his side-foot, teasing Kasper Schmeichel and weighted perfectly for Agüero to add the finish.

His third was more simple, but he knew exactly where to place the pass to give Agüero the best chance to hit the ball cleanly in his stride.

It’s the first time in his Man City career he has provided three assists in the same game and it looked effortless.

No one in the top five European leagues has more assists (14) than De Bruyne. No one has made more key passes and you’d be hard pushed to find anyone with the ability to pick out some of the outrageous passes the Belgian manages. He should go down as one of the best creators in the modern game.

Vardy King of the Counter

If one man was built to spoil Manchester City’s romp to the title, it’s Vardy.

1-0 up and cruising, City lost the ball from a poor pass from Nicolas Otamendi, then both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ilkay Gündogan missed tackles, leaving the Leicester forward one-on-one with Ayermic Laporte.

One criticism of the new signing from Atheltic Bilbao has been his lack of pace and the 31-year-old striker made him pay. Measuring up the Frenchman, his pace created a yard and space and his show found the bottom corner.

Vardy now has 13 for the season, and proved again that he is one of the best finishers on the break.

Linked with moves to Arsenal and Chelsea in the past, he is at a team which is perfect for him. They can play under pressure for 89 minutes, all it takes is one ball over the top and the Englishman is in.

It would be a waste if you were to ask him to play with his back to goal. When England go to Russia in the summer, in any game where you don’t expect to see much of the ball, Vardy is the man for Gareth Southgate.

Sterling not a striker, not a winger

When Kevin De Bruyne whipped in a teasing cross from the right, it was Sterling and not Sergio Agüero popping up at the back post, much to the relief on the England forward.

After missing a terrible chance against Burnley, to score after just three minutes would have set his mind at ease.

It takes his tally to 15 for the season, easily his best to date, he’s never before managed double figures in the league.

What’s clear, from the type of goals he scores, he is no longer a winger.

Only one strike has come from outside the penalty area and only three have been outside the width of the goalposts.

Last season, the former Liverpool forward attempted 64 shots, 21 outside the box and 43 inside.

With 11 games still to go, Sterling is up to 63 shots this campaign, he’s close to beating last term’s return in every category, from shots on target, to shots inside the penalty area.

His accuracy is down from 52 per cent to 51 per cent, but when you scoring over double your goals from this term, that’s more than ok.

Under Pep last season, only four of his seven goals came between the width of the posts. He may start in the wide positions, but he’s not staying there and looking to beat defenders on the wing.

Sterling always tries to hit the back post, or busts his gut to position himself near the the penalty spot. Guardiola’s influence is clear to see, his improvement has been fantastic and it’s great to see last week’s miss has been banished from his memory.

Ndidi continues to impress

It’s hard to catch the eye when you are beaten 5-1 and your side is dominated by Manchester City on the road, but Wilfred Ndidi continues to stand out in this Leicester side.

The away side finished with 29 per cent possession, completed just 66 per cent of their passes and attempted just two shots on goal, but it was in his defensive efforts where the Nigerian midfielder impressed.

Wilfred Ndidi Tackles

Finishing the game winning eight tackles – the map you can see above – and making two interceptions and four clearances. He even managed to get forward a little, completing one key pass and two successful dribbles.

If he continues to perform this way for the Foxes, it won’t be long until he’s the next star linked with a move away from the King Power.

Guardiola Gives Youth a Chance

Manchester City named seven subs for the visit of Leicester City, Lukas Nmecha the lucky recipient of the final place.

The Catalan boss had come under heavy criticism for only naming six for the trip to Burnley, especially from Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.

“It was the first time in my life and an exception,” Guardiola said in his pre-match press conference. “This guy, the pundit, he has to know my job is serious. It’s not a joke – never is it a joke. It’s so serious.

“And he should know that because he was a manager – for a short time.”

Regardless of his excuse, Neville had a point. Despite the Under-23s having their own fixture to play, any youngster would have traded in a game in an empty stadium to take part with the first-team squad, even just to sit on the bench.

Expectedly, Nmecha didn’t get off the bench, but Phil Foden came on for the last 10 minutes and will pick up an assist for Agüero’s fourth. Amazing what can happen when you give youth a chance.

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