The Ped Report West Bromwich Albion 2-3 City by Pedmachine

Another weekend over and another hurdle overcome as City took to the Black Country for a tricky encounter against the Baggies. West Brom, home and away has been a happy hunting ground for City in recent seasons, so was today about to follow that pattern?

The Blues have been pretty much free-scoring this season and in addition we have seen a reluctance for Stones, Otamendi and Ederson to allow goals against in recent weeks, so it has been a case of if City score, how many will they score? It seems that once City get in front the aim is to stay there while entertaining the fans in the stadium and any watching on TV.

Another 1500hrs kick-off deprived the viewing public of looking in on the breathtaking football being dispensed by City, scrutinised week-in, week-out and another match passed with an inevitable outcome.

The Baggie, under Pulis, is well-known for its ability to defend and then score from set pieces, but somehow City have managed to overcome these qualities as the years have progressed and indeed it didn't take the Blues long to get the scoreboard rattling.

De Jesus and Fernandinho were involved in the build up before Sane drilled the ball between the legs of Nyom and straight past Foster to open the scoring with less than ten minutes on the clock.

However, with probably everyone in the stadium awaiting the avalanche, a timely reminder by West Brom, told all that there were two teams on the field. A routine Albion over-the-top ball caught out Stones and this allowed Rodriguez to get between Stones and Ederson to prod home the equaliser.

Game on? Maybe, but it didn't take City long to get back in front. Sane was involved again. Finding his door closed he played it square to Fernandinho whose low shot somehow found its way past Foster to restore the lead for City.

This time there were to be no gifts as The Blues dominated possession without adding to the score.

The Baggies defended as they always do using their big men to best effect and being unafraid of a takedown where deemed necessary. But with City totally on the front foot another goal had an air of inevitability about it.

That it took until the 64th minute to achieve it perhaps on of life's great mysteries, but one of the key components of Guardiola's strategy is to keep his warriors hungry and when Sterling was introduced off the bench, hungry he was.

When it arrived it was another of City's free-flowing moves involving De Bruyne, Silva and finally Walker in quick succession as they recycled the ball with first time passes before the ex-Spud drilled in a daisy-cutting cross along the six-yard line to find Sterling unattended. Johnny-on-the-spot calmly used the pace of the cross to divert it into the Albion net and that looked to be that.

However as the game entered the second minute of stoppage time there was a timely reminder of the role of concentration in the game at the top level. With Stones finding himself caught out for the first West Brom goal, it was the turn of his partner Otamendi to deliver a goal on a plate for Phillips.

It was a fairly typical Albion cross into the box that went straight to Otamendi, who really should have just put it in the general direction of row Z. Of course, City players no longer adopt those kind of tactics and the Argentino tried to chest it back to Ederson. Phillips anticipated it and did enough to lift it over the stranded goal tender with the end of his toe to give his side a ray of hope.

However, it turned out to be no hope as City eased their way to the final whistle to restore their five point gap at the top of the table after the Stretfords confirmed Pep's theory that minus Harry Kane the Spuds have as much bottle as their North London counterparts. Harry's Hotspurs couldn't find a reply to Stretford's finest sneaking a cheap goal to keep themselves in the title race despite a miserable performance in front of their own fans.

With Napoli and Arsenal on the Blue horizon it's a busy week for Guardiola's men. The visit to South Italy will be a great challenge to City as Napoli continue to play a similar style to City and the Gooners look to be hitting some kind of form . So if this week sees City cement their place in the Champions League knock-out stages and still five points ahead of the rest of the Premier League field we will see the week as a job well done.

It was not a vintage performance by the Blues but Sane has once again come to the fore scoring goals for fun and also setting them up for others. Fernandinho continues to amaze with his energy, the way he snuffs out most of the danger, and now he seems to be adding a goal or two to his offering.

I suspect Pep will go with his strongest line up for the next two matches before everyone heads off to the far corners of the world for the next international break. The Pedmachine is looking forward to this week's fixtures and you will be able to read all about in the Ped Report.

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