FOR MAN CITY, this was a hugely significant win in terms of their Premier League title aspirations.
And it now begs the question: Can they go the whole season unbeaten?
I genuinely think they could. Of course, it won’t be easy but they have the capabilities to emulate Arsenal’s 2003-04 Invincibles.
The key will be when the Champions League restarts in February and they juggle assignments both domestically and abroad.
Man City are the best team in Europe right now and arguably have the best squad on the continent.
City boss Pep Guardiola has transformed the players in the City squad. Since arriving at the Ethiad, Pep has improved the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Fabian Delph, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Fernandinho.
The problem with taking on City is that if you try to go toe-to-toe with them, you have to commit attackers and front men forward. And if you do that, then City simply pick you off.
The other method would be to defend deep against them – and yet if you do that, your front man is usually left isolated up front.
You watch City and the way they use the ball and their movement – their one-touch passing and pressing – is incredible. City ran 113km compared to United’s tally of 107km – and had 44 touches in the opposition’s box at Old Trafford.
When City attack, teams have to get numbers behind the ball, to make sure they aren’t outnumbered.
If you do manage to break down their attack, then because they press so quickly and efficiently, you have to play out from the back.
Play it long and then nine times out of 10 City will win the ball back.
Essentially, against City, you are damned if you do, dammed if you don’t.
They have the stamina, endurance, and discipline to keep up their high pressing.
I suppose someone will eventually beat them – though that seems near enough impossible at this stage. A brave team would have to play through pressing and take maybe five or six City players out of the game.
The top teams are changing their systems to accommodate City because they are fearful of what Guardiola’s men can do. They are fantastic to watch right now.
FOUR THINGS I NOTICED THIS WEEKEND…
Sloppy Stoke defenders
Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Stoke have conceded three or more goals in 12 games.
Not only that, the manner in which they collapse is shocking.
In those games, they tend to concede goals CLOSE TO EACH OTHER within the space of just nine minutes AT THE MOST FROM 1 TO 2 OR TWO TO THREE.
And that makes it extremely hard to stage any comeback.
Be more charitable, Christian
Christian Benteke should never have taken the penalty for Crystal Palace.
Luka Milivojevic scored the first penalty and is the Eagles designated spot-kick taker.
FOR A STAGE AT Stoke, I took all the penalties myself. The only time I didn’t was when Ricardo Fuller won the penalty himself. At least then, everybody knew where they stood.
Benteke should have followed club protocol.
Fourteen of Huddersfield’s 18 points this season have been won at home.
Burnley stayed up last year thanks to winning 33 of their 40 points at Turf Moor.
David Wagner’s side need to make the KIRKLEES stadium a very tough place to visit.
Do that and they will avoid a relegation struggle.
Keeping clean sheets
The influence of David Moyes and Sam Allardyce can be seen in recent games.
The two managers have respectively improved the West Ham and Everton defences.
Any team that is strong defensively has a greater chance of staying up.