Stoke City 0-2 Manchester City: Premier League – as it happened

Nick Ames on 12 March 2018

With that, I leave you. Thanks for joining, and indeed contributing – and see you again soon!

Oh and, before I go, David Sweet has emailed me about drop-ball etiquette/regulations and as he is, if we apply the letter of the law, completely right I shall reproduce it here:

“If there’s one thing that annoys me - and I suspect many other fans - it’s the false ‘etiquette’ around dropped balls and other injury stoppages. If the referee stops the game because of risk to players – head injuries I gather in this case – he must restart with a dropped ball. There is NOTHING in the rules to suggest that one team or another should not contest the dropped ball. Bravo to City for one less moment of farce.”

Stoke will probably shrug their shoulders at that. They competed well enough. Rarely looked like getting anything out of it. Ho hum, bigger battles to fight.

Full-time: Stoke 0-2 Man City

Not the most memorable of City’s wins this season but, as they’ve done recently, they cruised on through. Two lovely goals from David Silva did the job; they could have had a few more but generally kept things under control. Three wins from the title, now – possibly fewer.


90+5 min: It’s not going to happen for Yaya.

90+4 min: City actually want to bring Yaya Toure on but they’d have to lose the ball in the next minute.

90+3 min: De Bruyne wins a late corner, in the corner, and City choose to keep it close to the corner. Then they fan out a bit. Not a lot more will happen here.

90+2 min: We’re amid five extra minutes here and Stoke are pressing, though I’m not really sure what the point was in sacrificing Cameron for Sobhi that late in the game.

90 min: Kyle Walker inadvertently destroys one of the poles that support the rope surrounding the technical area. Guardiola helpfully puts the shattered upright back in temporary position. Then he returns to his day job and replaces Jesus with Gundogan.


88 min: I’ve liked N’Diaye for Stoke today. He’s a good, aggressive player full of intent. He starts a move that almost gives Crouch a glimmer. Stoke introduce Sobhi for Cameron in the meantime. Going for it!!

86 min: Crouch wins Stoke a corner. Grandstand finish? Nope, Ederson dashes out to claim it and quickly starts a counter ... five or six City men fancy this but Jesus, a little sloppily, runs offside.

85 min: Sterling is roundly booed, naturally, as Bernardo Silva – in very good form recently – replaces him.

84 min: Crouch wins another header, although not in a dangerous area. Lambert provided decent working for wanting Jese’s speed in there today but I wonder if Crouch might have been a better option from the start today.

82 min: Silva goes after a hat-trick, magicking a half-opening on his right foot and curling wide. Wouldn’t it be lovely if he managed it?

79 min: My word. There’s a drop ball after that stoppage and City, as is generally not de rigueur, contest it. The ball breaks through to Sterling, who looks certain to score and goes round Butland – only for N’Diaye to dash back and challenge at the last. Stoke are very upset about that; plenty of words being had. It all depends on what Jon Moss told them to do, I suppose.

Sterling in action with Stoke City’s Papa Ndiaye.
Sterling in action with Stoke City’s Papa Ndiaye. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters


77 min: Hmmm, Otamendi is still being attended to, I think the pair clashed heads and he sustained a bit of a cut. He’s having a Terry Butcher-style bandage wrapped around his head, and he’ll see the game out like that.

75 min: Butland parries Sane’s drive from range now, and City have just upped things another notch. Otamendi and Stafylidis are both down, in the meantime, and need treatment – but should be OK.

73 min: Oh, that’s a wild miss from Kyle Walker! He sprints like anything to get onto a De Bruyne pass after sensational play in the middle by Jesus, who spun Joe Allen like a top. Walker is at an angle but can see the whites of Butland’s eyes and nobody else is near ... but slices well wide of the near post!

72 min: Yes, at the moment City are at least dignifying the remainder of the occasion by operating above walking pace – but not by too much. There was never too much sting in this game but they’ve removed it now. As I type, Sterling does get away from Stafylidis on the right but his low centre is cleared.


69 min: City had that flurry where they could have scored a third but look quite happy to wait their moment again now.

67 min: This is the nearest thing Stoke have had to a “spell”. It might help that they have a target man now. Unfortunately that little bit of momentum is lost by a wayward N’Diaye pass that cedes a needless throw-in.

64 min: Crouch is in the action immediately! He towers high to nod the free-kick across goal at the far post, and Choupo-Moting then gets a header of his own in – allowing Martins Indi, just eight yards out, to turn and flash a volley just over! It was a bit behind him and not a simple opportunity, but was that Stoke’s chance to find a way back in?

63 min: Jese holds the ball well down the left channel and draws a dangerous free-kick from Otamendi. That’s the right time, decides Lambert, to replace him with the towering frame of Peter Crouch ...

61 min: Justin Kavanagh has just emailed something that occurred to me too – could Mark Hughes, the man who was apparently taking Stoke down, be on the possible list of Southampton saviours?

59 min: Now Sane transfers the ball to his left foot and snakes a whipped 25-yarder just wide of a full-length Butland’s upright.

58 min: Sterling almost scores the most *absurd* solo goal, teasing Stafylidis inside his own box until he quite literally falls over on his backside, but sees his close-range effort saved by Butland’s foot. Butland then beats a Zinchenko sighter away and City are enjoying themselves right now.

Sterling looks to score at the near post.
Sterling looks to score at the near post. Photograph: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images


56 min: Fernandinho should perhaps make it three, but his first touch from a lovely De Bruyne pass is a bit slack and he shoots into the side netting from an angle. In the event, he should probably have squared it.

55 min: Now the booing has stopped, and all we can hear are the City fans. They know they are going to storm the league and can spend the next 35 minutes – and of course many more over the next few weeks – celebrating that.

Our man in Manchester is absolutely loving it!

53 min: Yes, City just know how to turn it up when they need to. It’s not been vintage, full-throttle stuff but – as Matt Loten just told us – there may be a reason for that. They’ve come out after half-time, put the game to bed and guaranteed themselves a relatively calm second half.

Goal! Stoke 0-2 Man City (David Silva 50)

Oh, that’s so good again. Silva beats Bauer to what looks a 50/50 pass and nips it right to Jesus. He keeps running into the box, meets the lofted return and finishes delicately as Butland advances. That’s game over, I think.

Silva nets his second goal.
Silva nets his second goal. Photograph: Philip Oldham/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
Silva is hoisted aloft in celebration.
Silva is hoisted aloft in celebration. Photograph: Philip Oldham/BPI/REX/Shutterstock


49 min: Sterling and De Bruyne combine sweetly to win a corner. Not for the first time it results in very little, but does set them up for their first spell of really extended possession of the half.

48 min: Stoke make a fairly aggressive start, Allen running beyond Jese to earn a throw. It doesn’t come to much but perhaps they can still give this a real go.

Peeeeep! Second half underway

Will Stoke hang in there?

From Matt Loten: “Will we see another truly scintillating Premier League performance from City this season? Pep strikes me as someone who wants to win every game 6-0, but it seems as though City have been playing within themselves lately. Even in beating Arsenal they rarely shifted out of second gear. With England’s lack of a winter break, I wonder if the City players are saving themselves (consciously or otherwise) for the Champions League, safe in the knowledge that the title is wrapped up.”

There may be some truth in that, I think.

“With that sacking and the possible future P45 for Pardew, wouldn’t be a bit of craic if all the bottom clubs threw their managers in a bowl and took their chances with whichever manager they plucked out and who would no doubt ‘freshen things up’ for the last 8 or so games?” suggests Paul Fitzgerald.

Imagine eight or nine teams with New Manager Bounce! Everton could go down!

Odd timing from the Saints there. Who will they get in for the New Manager Bounce that would keep them up? They’ve actually played quite well in all three of their games I’ve covered in the flesh this season (Man Utd, Arsenal, Spurs, all at home) – but the suggestion was that they dialled it in, rather, at Newcastle on Saturday so clearly enough is considered to have been ... well ... enough.

Hot Premier League news: Southampton have sacked Mauricio Pellegrino.

“Re your comment about the Premier League not having seen a team like City before – do you think they’ll be equally imperious next season, or will they teams get wiser to their style / they run out of steam themselves?” asks Matt Collins. “One of the two seems to have happened to almost every league winner in the last 10 years.”

It will be the big question, won’t it, and City have previous for dropping off after winning the title. I just don’t think Guardiola does that, and he’ll probably freshen things up slightly in a couple of areas to keep everyone keen. I think other teams, perhaps Man United, will get a little closer to them but they are just so far ahead in most aspects as we stand.

Half-time: Stoke 0-1 Man City

David Silva scored a lovely goal and not *that* much else has happened really. Man City have been in near-total control although N’Diaye did come close with a deflected shot. There has been an edge to the game and Stoke won’t be unhappy that they are still in it.

45 min: A scrappy spell, now. Which means Stoke get a reasonable share of possession for a minute or two.

43 min: They have another three-on-three break, now, but Sane dallies and is crowded out by Choupo-Moting and Zouma. The crowd are making a heck of a din, I must say.

42 min: City have a three-on-three break, which ends with Sane connecting at the back post but volleying De Bruyne’s cross a metre or so wide.

41 min: Butland gets down to bat a Fernandinho fizzer round his post. The Stoke fans boo, they’re booing at everything here – City possession, perceived slights, the lot. So they’re, needless to say, booing most of the time. Except now, when they cheer as De Bruyne lashes over a wayward half-volley.

38 min: Anger now as Ederson sweeps up a long ball through with his chest and the home fans want a handball. Nothing doing, quite rightly ... and then Butland has to be out for a second time to mop up a wayward pass backwards.

37 min: Ederson has to paw the ball over his own bar after Kompany misses a header and Walker, getting ahead of Jese as the forward looks to run clear, loops a foot onto it. It was dropping in! The corner is overhit by Shaqiri and Lambert looks annoyed at that. You would be.

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson tips the ball over the crossbar.
Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson tips the ball over the crossbar. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA


36 min: Sterling is cut through on the right again, not dissimilarly to the goal, but settles for a corner this time. It results in a wayward Zinchenko loft. City are well in control here although it’s hardly a thriller.

34 min: De Bruyne whips in an absolute dream of a free-kick from the right, absolutely the perfect delivery with so much fizz and dip and speed, and it would only take a touch from one of about four City heads to make it 2-0 ... but none of them make it, and Stoke survive.

32 min: Butland is injured – and that came after he rushed out quickly to stop De Bruyne capitalising on an awful Martins Indi backpass. The goalkeeper is up for now but wincing visibly.

31 min: Shaqiri plays Jese in down the right channel with a nice, disguised, lofted pass but the Spaniard can’t quite work an angle and Ederson is untroubled.

29 min: Sane is just about stopped from snaffling up a De Bruyne cross, the long leg of a defender denying him a chance to gather possession. Zinchenko then causes minor aggravation by preventing Shaqiri from taking a throw-in.

26 min: And City still stroke it about. Stoke are, to be fair, still harrying them and denying too much space around the box. They do create some now, though, but Silva air kicks an attempted volley from De Bruyne’s right-wing cross. Fernandinho fires wildly over when the ball comes out to him.

24 min: Slightly affronted by that, City respond by hogging the ball for a very long time indeed. They haven’t really created a chance to make it two yet though.

21 min: So, of course, Stoke then almost score. Shaqiri nutmegs Zinchenko on the byline, forages towards the box and picks out N’Diaye, whose placed effort deflects *just* wide off Fernandinho with Ederson at full stretch. The corner comes to nothing.

20 min: The Premier League has not seen a team like Man City. I’m not saying it hasn’t seen one as good, before Arsenal or United fans start, but it hasn’t seen one like it. I’d be surprised if Stoke are allowed to lay a glove on them all game at current rate.

17 min: Fernandinho tries a clever pass through to Sterling and the forward goes down under the challenge of Stafylidis. The crowd don’t like that, and nothing is given – but actually I think Sterling was tugged back just outside the box.

15 min: Stoke get on the ball briefly but City are so, so good and won’t even give Zouma a second to build from the back, pressing him into a loose pass out of play. This City team work so incredibly hard and they wouldn’t be anything like the thrilling proposition they are if they didn’t.

13 min: So tough for Stoke now. Do they Benitez it and try to keep it down to one on the off chance they nab a set piece later? Probably all they can do.

12 min: City come again and earn a corner through Sane, but this time Silva is caught offside from the short one.

Goal! Stoke 0-1 Man City (David Silva 10)

City turn it on for the first time and punish Stoke with a beautiful goal. They get a little bit too tight at the back and Jesus is able to turn and spring Sterling clear on the right. He has to time the pass perfectly otherwise it’ll be too early for the onrushing Silva – he does, and it’s converted first-time in quite brilliant style. A perfect start for the champions-to-be.

David Silva wheels off in celebration after scoring the first goal.
David Silva wheels off in celebration after scoring the first goal. Photograph: Philip Oldham/BPI/REX/Shutterstock
David Silva scores the opening goal of the game.
David Silva scores the opening goal of the game. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images


9 min: Stoke earn a throw in, almost level with the City area, and a huge roar goes up. Oh for Rory Delap! They try something more intricate but don’t make anything of it. N’Diaye is scrapping like a terrier in there early on though.

7 min: De Bruyne tries a clever one round the side of the wall to ... I think it was Otamendi, weirdly, but the resulting shot is blocked quite easily.

6 min: Quite a few gaps in the stands, actually. Are people still waiting to get in? Is Monday night a bit of a drag? Is this season’s Premier League not a lot of fun for many teams? The answers are on hold as N’Diaye concedes a free-kick 25 yards out.

4 min: Stoke look in quite a hurry to get on with things, Bauer launching a long throw from his own half that can’t spring Jese away. City regain possession but their early play hasn’t offered any real threat.

2 min: Early City possession – of course – although signs Stoke will snap at them quite quickly. Sterling tries to link with Walker on the right but it’s dealt with.

Peeeeeep! And away we go!

Stoke, left to right, get us going. It’s noisy in there. Let’s hope we have a contest!

The teams are emerging. Do City fancy it? DO THEY?

The teams take to the field.
The teams take to the field. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA



Guardiola speaks about wet and windy nights in Stoke: “The opponent is stronger than the wind, the weather conditions. They are fit and have a good rhythm. They’re always tough.”

City won the home fixture 7-2 in October, of course.

Joshua Reynolds writes: “I’m not sure what to think of Lambert quite yet. He seems to have sorted out the defensive issues pretty well, although I’m sure we will lose 56-0 today, but there seems to be some missing cohesion in the squad. Shaqiri seems to be angry and yell at the other players a fair amount for not being very good.”

Paul Lambert on whether the pressure is off tonight given the identity of Stoke’s opponents: “Probably a little bit, with the results at the weekend as well. But we’ve been playing well in patches. Not winning games when we should have but performance-wise the spirit is pretty lively.”

How does he take on City? “You’ve got to make it ugly. We ain’t going to beat them at football. We’re going to have to run, with or without the ball, we don’t want to make it easy for them.”

“With their team within spitting distance of the title, I’d imagine that only City fans are truly salivating about tonight’s match,” quips Peter Oh, so I don’t have to.

“In the aftermath of Jamie Carragher’s unfortunate car window moment, I’ve written the opening of a joke that only needs a punchline. Frank Rijkaard, a llama, and Jamie Carragher walk into a bar ... “


Stoke fans – how’s it been under Lambert? I guess it’s too early to say what the long term “thing” is, and his appointment wasn’t universally welcomed ... but I’ve always felt he was a very good manager who, post-Norwich, took bad jobs. Anyone convinced yet?

Usually at this stage of the evening there’d be some trenchant pre-match analysis on yer telly from a panel including Jamie Carragher, but the programme has been shortened this week – presumably because of this:

Stoke: Butland, Bauer, Zouma, Martins Indi, Stafylidis, Allen, Cameron, Ndiaye, Shaqiri, Jese, Choupo-Moting. Subs: Johnson, Adam, Shawcross, Fletcher, Crouch, Haugaard, Sobhi.

Man City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva, Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Sane. Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Gundogan, Laporte, Bernardo Silva, Toure.

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Raheem Sterling is back for City! So are Fernandinho and Vincent Kompany. For Stoke, Jese starts his first game since 21 October. Absorb these, by all means email your thoughts in too, and we’ll talk again in a few minutes.


Amid all this talk of spitting and pitch invasions there’s still more actual football to get your teeth into – before we can all relax and look forward to ... well ... even more actual football. Tonight it’s Man City’s turn to take a further stride towards the title, and Stoke’s to continue leaving us none the wiser about who will take the final two relegation places. Done and done. Right?

I mean, probably. Even if City have recently been almost as down-to-the-bare-bones as your average Harry Redknapp side, and have another reshuffle to undertake now that Sergio Aguero is missing for a while. Other players are coming back and, whoever plays tonight, it’s still a team that should be able to do it on a moderately chilly Monday night in Stoke.

Stoke – remember them? They seem to have flown beneath the radar a bit since Paul Lambert took over even though they are still in a world of trouble. There’s none of the vitriol of Mark Hughes’ latter days but things have not really got any better or worse. They have won once in Lambert’s six games. They have drawn four. They have lost one. That’s not bad, but their run of opponents has been pretty kind – and they still sit second from bottom. Three of their next four fixtures are against Man City, Arsenal and Spurs; you’d think they need to pull a couple of wins from somewhere although, saying that, the general uselessness of the bottom eight or nine teams means they’ll probably be in with a shout of staying up in the final couple of weeks whatever happens.

Can they take a gigantic step in their survival bid tonight? Or will City just be City? Stay tuned!

Nick will be here shortly, but in the meantime, here’s Pep Guardiola on David Silva:

Manchester City’s David Silva is still being allowed compassionate leave to spend time with his wife in Spain, where the couple’s prematurely born son is still receiving medical attention.

Silva was permitted to return home while City wrapped up the home leg of their round of 16 Champions League tie against Basel last week but is back in the UK and ready to play at Stoke on Monday evening. Following the game they have a fortnight off, part of which they will spend warm-weather training in Abu Dhabi, although Silva will be granted more time in Spain.

“The family is always the most important thing,” Pep Guardiola said. “David wants to be with the team but sometimes he needs to go back and see his son and his wife. He knows he has to keep training, too, so he trains alone in Valencia.” Silva was man of the match in his last outing against Chelsea; his form has held up remarkably well whenever he has played in the last couple of months.

“David is a guy with a lot of technical skills and this league is so complicated because of the physicality and the weather conditions but he survives; he’s been one of the best players in England for a long time now,” the manager added. “All that time he has played at a high level and we are so happy to have him, and to extend his contract. He’s a huge competitor. He doesn’t speak too much but on the pitch, the moment the game is on, he steps forward. He never hides, even when the going is tough, and that is so important.”

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