City extend winning run with victory over Sheffield United
City made it 12 straight wins in all competitions with a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United at the Etihad Stadium as Pep Guardiola made it 500 wins as a manager.
Gabriel Jesus scored the winner inside 10 minutes, finishing from close range after fine work from Ferran Torres who went past Jayden Bogle and Ethan Ampadu inside the area before squaring for the Brazilian.
Bernardo Silva almost made it 2-0 when he capitalised on a poor attempted backpass, but he couldn’t get enough on his header to guide it past Aaron Ramsdale.
City were dominant in possession – but struggled to create clear-cut chances, with Sheffield United defending in numbers and making it difficult for us to break them down.
Oleksandr Zinchenko forced a good save from Ramsdale with a powerful long-range effort, and from the resulting corner the 'keeper tipped over Aymeric Laporte's header.
John Fleck flashed a half-volley just wide with four minutes remaining as the visitors enjoyed a decent late spell, but City weathered the storm and almost added another when Jesus was put through but Ramsdale produced an outstanding stop to deny him in injury time.
This was by no means our most compelling performance but it’s now 19 games unbeaten in all competitions, with our last defeat coming away at Tottenham in November.
THE DIAS EFFECT
It’s rare a new signing has such an impact, but Ruben Dias has been nothing short of a transformational addition to our squad. We have rarely looked this solid.
City haven’t lost in 19 games. During that period, he has played 18 times and we’ve have conceded just four goals.
So far this season, we’ve conceded 13 in 20 Premier League games, keeping a clean sheet in our last nine home matches.
Of course, that isn't down to one player – the way the team presses and defends from the front means every player can bask in the glow of those stats.
But there can be little doubt Dias has brought leadership and defensive quality to our backline.
He’s comfortable in possession, reads the game superbly, is a vocal presence and executes sliding tackles beautifully.
He’s an artist, a fine exponent of modern-day defending, and he could well prove to be one of the best signings we’ve made in some time.
The boss took charge in 2016 and since his arrival, we’ve outscored every other Premier League side (across all competitions).
City have won 35 of the 37 Premier League games Gabriel Jesus has scored in.
And how about this one...
City have won all nine matches in all competitions in January 2021, the most wins by a team in the top four tiers of English football in a single month since the formation of the Football League in 1888.
WHAT IT MEANS
It’s now a remarkable 19 games unbeaten in all competitions – with our last 12 all victories, including eight wins on the bounce in the league.
We are the ninth different leaders of the Premier League and the top of the table has rarely such a condensed look to it at this stage of the season.
We’ve managed to find some outstanding form in a season that has been difficult to predict and we find ourselves in a strong position.
Our relentless fixture schedule continues apace this week, with two more crucial Premier League games in the next eight days.
We travel to Turf Moor on Wednesday to face Burnley. Sean Dyche’s side sit 15th in the table but are showing signs of a resurgence having beaten Liverpool and Aston Villa in their last two matches. They face Chelsea tomorrow at midday.
And then next Sunday sees perhaps our toughest assignment yet as we face the current champions Liverpool at Anfield. Liverpool have been in stuttering from, but their 3-1 win away at Tottenham on Thursday reaffirmed their quality. It should be a fantastic game and it kicks off at 16:30 GMT.
Manchester City (1): Ederson; Walker, Laporte, Rúben Dias, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva, Gündogan; Ferran Torres (Rodri, 89’), Foden, Gabriel Jesus
Sheffield United (0): Ramsdale; Baldock, Basham, Egan, Ampadu, Bogle; Lundstram, Norwood, Fleck; Burke, Brewster (McGoldrick, 61’)
Goal: 1-0, Gabriel Jesus (8’)
Referee: David Coote. Booking: Norwood (24’), Baldock (82’), Egan (84’)