Manchester City vs. Sunderland: Score, Reaction from 2015 Premier League Match – Bleacher Report

Manchester City managed to gain ground on table-leading Leicester City Saturday at the Etihad Stadium as the Citizens routed Sunderland 4-1 in a Boxing Day clash.
Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony and Kevin De Bruyne scored for City, with De Bruyne also adding two assists. The victory was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that defender and captain Vincent Kompany exited after just nine minutes on the pitch due to injury.
Despite the negative, the Citizens pulled to within just three points of Leicester City, as the Foxes fell 1-0 to Liverpool Saturday.
Per Squawka Football, Saturday’s victory was also the latest example of Manchester City’s dominance on their home pitch:
Manchester City have picked up more points at home (24) than any other Premier League side this season. #MCFC
Manager Manuel Pellegrini decided to insert Sterling and Bony into the lineup in place of Sergio Aguero and Fabian Delph, and those moves paid immediate dividends in the first half.
Sterling found the back of the net in the 12th minute, as he headed the ball past Black Cats goalkeeper Vito Mannone off a beautiful feed from De Bruyne.
That tally led Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News to point out that those critical of Sterling’s ability to score haven’t paid close enough attention to the stats:
Sterling, who can't finish apparently, is now joint top scorer with Aguero and De Bruyne, on nine
Sterling’s goal was a significant one for Manchester City, as no EPL club is better after taking the lead, according to OptaJoe:
91% – Manchester City have the best win percentage of any team in the Premier League after taking the lead this season. Banker.
That advantage would continue to grow over the next 10 minutes, as Yaya Toure made it 2-0 in the 17th minute by virtue of a gorgeous, left-footed shot that beat Mannone low and to the left.
The lead then ballooned to 3-0 five minutes later when Bony converted a head off yet another perfect feed from De Bruyne, who distributed the ball via a free kick.
Per Squawka Football, that helper bolstered the Belgian star’s status as the Premier League’s top playmaker since the start of last season:
Kevin De Bruyne has now registered 27 league assists since the start of 2014/15, more than any player in Europe’s top five leagues. #MCFC
According to OptaJoe, only Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil has been in the same class as De Bruyne in terms of dishing out assists:
8 – Only Mesut Ozil (15) has more Premier League goal assists than Kevin de Bruyne this season. Craft.
City have been much maligned at times for their decision to acquire De Bruyne, but Brennan scoffed at the notion that it was a bad move after watching the youngster’s wizardry:
Another De Bruyne assist, whipped free kick and Bony ahead of defender to head in; That's 8 in 14 starts for a player dubbed a "flop" #MCFC
The Sky Blues entered the locker room with a commanding 3-0 lead due largely to De Bruyne’s spectacular play, and while the desire to keep pace with Leicester likely played a role, there may have been some added motivation as well.
Manchester City unveiled a new crest prior to the match, which generated no shortage of buzz and excitement leading up to game time, as seen in this photo courtesy of Squawka Football:
Manchester City unveil their new club crest against Sunderland today. #MCFC
That carried over into the early portion of the second half, as De Bruyne was rewarded for his efforts with a goal to make it 4-0 in the 54th minute.
De Bruyne received a fortuitous bounce off a Sunderland defender prior to smashing it home, but it can be argued that he made his own breaks after setting up his teammates so expertly in the opening 45 minutes.
Little went wrong for City up to that point, but the tide started to turn a bit in the 58th minute, when Fabio Borini broke up Joe Hart’s clean sheet with a goal off a rebound.
Bony had a chance to restore the four-goal advantage with a penalty in the 68th minute; however, he skied it over the bar.
Despite Manchester City’s large lead, things continued to snowball in the wrong direction, as Kompany was forced to exit the match in the 70th minute, just nine minutes after coming on as a sub.
Per Sammy Lee of, Kompany aggravated the calf injury that had kept him out of action previously:

Pellegrini: "The Vincent news is not the best news. He worked all week normally and it's difficult to understand what happened." Calf again.
According to Brennan, Kompany’s unexpectedly short cameo took a great deal of air out of the Etihad Stadium faithful:
Total stunned silence as Kompany goes off, looking utterly dejected
Kompany had missed nearly two months due to a calf injury, and while his return energized the fanbase, his setback had the opposite effect.
Man City managed to finish off the 4-1 victory despite the Kompany situation, but uncertainty regarding his health puts the Sky Blues in a tough position moving forward.
Even though Saturday’s win was a huge one, especially with Leicester City falling to Liverpool, the possibility of being without Kompany for an extended period of time once again is daunting.
Kompany is a strong, steady presence on the back end, and Manchester City’s defending isn’t as sure without him.
The Citizens are extremely talented from an attacking perspective, however, as evidenced by what De Bruyne and Co. were able to accomplish in the first half.
If they can continue to excel in that area, then they still stand a chance to ascend to the top of the EPL table regardless of Kompany’s status.
Manchester City should have gained a ton of momentum from their convincing win over Sunderland Saturday, but there is no question that Kompany’s injury put a damper on things.
Even so, Pellegrini stressed how big it was for his club to come out on top as City continue to battle for positioning in the table, according to the Sunderland Echo:
'This was a very important victory.' says Manuel Pellegrini, first manager into post-match press conference. #MCFC #SAFC
After confirming Kompany’s calf injury, Pellegrini focused on praising those who performed well Saturday, and he most notably discussed the play of both De Bruyne and David Silva:
Pellegrini full of praise for Silva/De Bruyne after watching them tear #SAFC apart out on the pitch. Confirms Kompany's problem is same calf
Aside from the Kompany injury, Pellegrini revealed Aguero sat because he was banged up, although he is expected to be available moving forward, per Lee:
Pellegrini: "Kun had a small problem so it was better not to take risks. I think it was better for him to rest, he'll be 100% on Tuesday."
While Pellegrini was largely happy with how things went for his club, the same can’t be said for Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce.
With the Black Cats in position to get relegated, Allardyce was very clearly searching for answers after yet another loss:
Allardyce: 'Gifted teams goals, we are slipping back, it is hard work to actually think what is the best team now?'
City’s situation may not be ideal, with so many question marks surrounding Kompany, but there is no doubt that Sunderland are in a much worse way.
The Sky Blues proved Saturday that they can put forth a dominant showing even without Kompany, and they’ll need to continue that trend moving forward in order to keep pace with Leicester City, Arsenal and the rest of the EPL’s top teams.
 Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.


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