After Liverpool stumbled to a 2-0 defeat at home to Chelsea earlier on Sunday, Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City seized the Premier League title initiative with a routine 2-0 victory over the in-form Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Palace had previously won their last five Premier League matches on the spin, but they got off to a nightmare start in South London as Edin Dzeko nodded home Yaya Toure’s cross just four minutes in.
Toure then added a second after a barnstorming run with 43 minutes on the clock before City produced a professional second-half display to see out the victory.
The result leaves the Citizens three points adrift of league leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, leaving Pellegrini to once again dream of Premier League glory—though he wasn’t getting too far ahead of himself in his post-match interview.
The Manchester City manager lauded the performance of his players against a confident team, but said that there’s still a long way to go—per BBC Sport:
It was a happy day and it was very important for us. Before today we were depending on other teams. Now we continue as we were two weeks ago, depending only on what we do.
It was important to get a good start but also not to let Crystal Palace score. It was a very professional performance. But it's not finished, we have to play three games more. We will see in the future who will be the best.
He added that his side addressed the Liverpool result prior to kickoff:
Of course we talked with the players [about the Liverpool result] before the game but we could not play against Palace depending on Liverpool—we still had to win so we were very concentrated on our own game.
City must travel to Goodison Park next weekend to face an Everton side that have beaten both Chelsea and Arsenal at home this season, knowing that only a victory will keep them on course for their second title in three years.
However, with their mercurial midfielder Toure back from injury and back to form, they stand every chance of taking a result away from Merseyside.
The 30-year-old was at his usual unplayable best at Selhurst Park, playing a big part in the goals that saw City over the line.
If he can keep his fitness for next week’s clash at Goodison Park and beyond, then the Premier League trophy may well be heading back to the Etihad Stadium.
We could have done with the players being a bit more on edge but they've done fantastically well this season. We have to prepare ourselves to get ready for Liverpool. The Premier League is the most competitive in the world and, although we're safe, we have a responsibility to the rest of the league to put in a performance.
It has indeed been an incredible season for the Eagles, surviving in the Premier League for the first time at the fifth attempt, as OptaJoe reported:
However, they never looked like troubling the talented City, who now sit firmly in the title-race driver’s seat.
Bar a couple of 10-0 victories for Liverpool in their remaining fixtures, City will win the Premier League with three wins out of three in their run-in.
Is it ever as simple as that, though? They made a huge statement at Selhurst Park, but nothing can be taken for granted just yet.