Manchester City's Home Form Keeps Them in Contention at the Top
After the disappointing defeat at Stamford Bridge in their last league match, Manchester City bounced back in emphatic style, beating Norwich 7-0 at the Etihad—their biggest ever win in the Premier League and their biggest in the top flight since the 7-0 win over Burnley in 1968.
It was City's fifth win in five league games at home this season, which is an immaculate record that gives them reason to be optimistic about their title chances despite their dodgy away form.
The 2-1 reverse against Chelsea last Sunday was a sickener for City, with Joe Hart's rush of blood gifting the West Londoners a last-minute winner, costing his side a valuable point after an excellent second-half display. This result, along with City's midweek League Cup win, was the best possible response.
As expected, Hart lost his place in the side, with Costel Pantilimon starting in the league for the first time since joining City in 2011. He couldn't have wished for a more comfortable introduction to life as a Premier League goalkeeper. City were totally dominant despite never hitting their absolute best, leaving Pantilimon to watch on and admire the play.
In his post-match press conference, Manuel Pellegrini insisted Hart has the full backing of everyone at the club, saying:
"My duty is to see every week who is the best player to play. Joe needed a rest, it will be useful for him—he's played every match for two years. Every player can have a bad moment.
"I only know that Joe must work very hard and he will have all of the support of me and the goalkeeper coach and the team. He is England’s goalkeeper and I think he will be back.
"I am sure he will return to his normal performance."
Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and David Silva all returned to the starting lineup after being rested for the cup win at St James Park, and all were superb. Silva, in particular, was central to everything City did, and he departed to a huge standing ovation for another excellent performance.
The Spaniard is back to the form he showed during City's title-winning campaign—always wanting the ball, and constantly looking to hurt the opposition with his wonderful passing ability. If City are to be successful this season, he will be at the heart of it.
The gulf in class between City and Norwich was staggering, and Chris Hughton will be nervously awaiting a phone call from the Norwich owners regarding his future as his side slip into the bottom three.
Fernandinho's outstanding form continues unabated and he is becoming a hugely important player for City. With Silva, Aguero, Toure and Negredo also in imperious form, City have much to be pleased about.
Three home matches out of the next four now gives them every chance of building some important momentum going into December.
All quotes obtained firsthand.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity.
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