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In a real showdown at each end of the Premier League table, Manchester City once again extended their buffer over the chase package with a 4-0 match away in Norwich on Saturday night.
While the runaway English giants could have faced a tough test during the early exchanges on Carrow Road, the relegation scrapers failed to finish what has become a remarkable purple patch from Pep Guardiola’s men.
Hoping Burnley can do them a favor when Liverpool take the trip to Turf Moor on Sunday afternoon, we have taken a look at key points of discussion as Manchester City took another step closer to this season’s Premier League crown.
Sterling steals the show
While the red-hot Riyad Mahrez could have found the net in seven consecutive appearances on his way into Saturday’s showdown in East Anglia, there is no doubt that Raheem Sterling stole the show here.
As Jack Grealish was not involved in Guardiola’s match day and Kevin De Bruyne had to settle for a place as an unused replacement, the English national team player emphasized why he has become such an important part of City’s race this season.
After opening the scoring just after half an hour with a wonderfully whipped effort from the edge of the box, the one-time Liverpool star has come by leaps and bounds since questions about his future last summer.
With no sign of signing a new deal with Etihad and linked with a move to Barcelona, Sterling is now in the middle of a free run.
The 27-year-old knocked home from close range after Ruben Dias’ guided header with 20 minutes left on the clock, and the 27-year-old got a golden chance to play his first senior hat-trick in two years with only seconds left on Carrow Road.
Despite seeing his last gasp denied by Angus Gunn, Sterling saw the ball fall kindly back on his way as he completed a Man of the Match show in eastern Anglia.
Always a tough test for Norwich
Watching Grant Hanley’s header over the post with 18 minutes on the clock, some around Carrow Road might have thought they could produce another famous victory at home.
But knowing they were facing a huge task in East Anglia here, Norwich really faced an uphill battle when Sterling opened the scoring just after half an hour.
Despite being blown backwards in the second half, Dean Smith was quick to praise his team’s performance and will be desperate for his team to quickly brush themselves off as they bid to extend their Premier League status.
As they fell back into the relegation zone after Saturday’s 4-0 defeat, the Yellows have still managed to find a much-needed form over the last month.
The former Aston Villa boss, who previously enjoyed a three-match unbeaten Premier League race before welcoming the runaway leaders to the city here, also saw his team extend their FA Cup adventure with an impressive 2-0 win at away against Wolves.
Norwich, who are definitely breathing life back into their survival battle, will next be seen in seven days when they take the trip to another heavyweight in Liverpool.
Three more points in the bag for City
When the trip to East Anglia on Saturday night was tipped as a landslide favorite to once expand their buffer to double digits, Manchester City simply sought to avoid another public drop on Carrow Road.
While Guardiola’s men may have avoided a ball when Hanley’s header returned from Ederson’s post earlier in the first half, the Sky Blues barely needed to get out of second gear.
With the mood in their camp apparently at a red-hot high, all signs point to the runaway leaders to claim yet another Premier League trophy this season.
The former Bayern Munich boss, who earlier this week ran past Brentford and claimed a deserved 2-0 win at the Etihad, now finds that his team is enjoying a remarkably unbeaten domestic race dating back to the end of October.
With their eyes fixed on carrying out a real silverware sweep this season, there is no doubt City will be desperate to keep this momentum up when they return attention to European duties in a few days.
Still looking to recover completely from last year’s Champions League final heartache in the hands of Chelsea, Guardiola’s team will be seen on Tuesday night as they head to Sporting Lisbon.
Norwich: Gunn, Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams, McLean, Lees Melou, Gilmour, Sargent, Pukki, Rashica
Subs: Dowell, Byram, Normann
Manchester By: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Fernandinho, Silva, Mahrez, Foden, Sterling
Subs: Delap, Kayky, McAtee
Goal: Sterling 31 ′, 70 ′, 90 ′, Foot 48 ′
Yellow card: Dias, Sterling
Red cards: REACH
Judging: Andre Marriner