Man City 3 Crystal Palace 0

In the Saturday lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League at the Etihad, it was pretty much business as usual for last season's champions as they ran out convincing 3-0 winners against a well set up Crystal Palace side. Neil Warnock's men battled throughout, especially during a goalless first-half, but were ultimately undone by the better side.

The truth is that even lacking in a recognised centre-forward, City were always the more likely winners and so it proved. Their first was as a result of a fortunate deflection off Scott Dann's legs from a goalbound shot from David Silva. Silva (and City) required no fortune for his second, as he stroked the ball home with aplomb. Likewise for the third, which confirmed the three points for the home side with ten minutes to go, as a typically forceful drive from Yaya Toure ended with the Ivorian thumping the ball emphatically high into the net (his fifth goal in eight games).The win ensured that City continue their pursuit of early pace setters Chelsea (who play on Monday).

Manuel Pellegrini admitted that his squad had been practising playing without a striker this week in preparation for the weekend game and seemed basically content with the way his team implemented the gameplan and showed patience to eventually earn the win.

Warnock was "annoyed" by an offside decision at 2-0 that denied his side a way back into the game, as James McArthur's perfectly legitimate headed goal was denied by an overzealous flag. Warnock, a recent pundit on BT Sport (among other stations) bemoaned the fact that he could no longer say what he truly felt about the decision, for fear of sanctions against him!

As it was the better side were victorious in the end, but it would have been interesting from the game's point of view how the dynamic may have changed with a Palace goal, especially as there were still over twenty minutes left to play in the game at the time. Football is constantly full of such questions and "what if" scenarios, which is why the fans love it.

City now sit behind Jose Mourinho's title favourites only on goal difference (one more goal and they would have gone top) and whatever the result of Chelsea's game in hand, seem to have regained their "mojo" and are back as genuine title contenders.

Both Chelsea and Man City harbour hopes of Champions League glory this season, especially now they start with the "clean slate" of elimination rounds with group qualification behind them. Chelsea seem more likely to progress on the European front (especially if the influential Sergio Aguero can not be patched up before hostilities are renewed on that front), but domestically it is a different matter.

It will be interesting to see which of the two expensively assembled squads fairs best through the extremely demanding and often pivotal holiday period. 

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