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Media Watch: Press purr over ‘relentless’ City

RELENTLESS: The press were impressed with City's ruthlessness in the 4-0 triumph over West Ham...

RELENTLESS: The press were impressed with City's ruthlessness in the 4-0 triumph over West Ham...

Another fantastic win, another heap of praise for the Premier League Champions…

Long may it continue!

City returned to domestic action as if we’d never been away, sailing into a 3-0 lead at West Ham after just 34 minutes with a blistering first half display before the superb Leroy Sane added the icing to the proverbial cake with his second of the afternoon in injury time.

While the footballing world observed the Blues were not at their scintillating best, they were impressed with the ruthlessness of Pep Guardiola’s men in the final third.

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Ian Herbert of the Daily Mail scribed: “Manchester City drive on so imperiously and inexorably that it is impossible not to fear for the competitive balance of this Premier League season.

“The inevitability of losing to them is becoming so great that defeatism lurks. Liverpool are unbeaten, just like City, yet every point they drop now has grave consequences.

“The usual narrative about the league leaders' supreme technical merit applies. The third goal was the high point: a drilled, 20-yard diagonal from Fernandinho, cushioned on the volley by Raheem Sterling into Leroy Sane, who 'sat down' Fabian Balbuena and clipped past Lucasz Fabianski. It was divine, football in art form and a privilege to watch.

“City have actually travelled a long way far from the place where Pellegrini left them, two and a half years ago.

“Their relentless intensity is borne of players' fear that once out of the team, they may not get back in a hurry.

“They had scored 11 goals here in three previous visits and needed only ten minutes to improve the tally.”

ESPN’s Jonathan Smith reflected: “It's been two weeks since City's last game with much of Pep Guardiola's squad disappearing all over the globe, but nothing seemed to have changed in that fortnight.

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“They picked up exactly where they left off, dominating possession, pulling the opposition apart with their movement and passing and ruthlessly killing off any chance of an upset against the terrified Hammers.

“Guardiola spoke before the game about his desire to stop the opposition from creating any opportunities, which they did effectively last time out in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United. West Ham, though, had a number of attempts on goal.

“For most teams winning so impressively away from home while giving up the odd chance would be seen as acceptable, only by Guardiola standards is that considered something to work on.”

Simon Bajkowski of the Manchester Evening News commented: “Manchester City have produced some spellbinding statistics under Pep Guardiola and their three goals in the first half at the London Stadium means they have now scored 21 goals in the opening 45 minutes of Premier League this season.

“To put that into context, only Liverpool (26), Arsenal (26), Chelsea (27), Tottenham (23) and Bournemouth (also 21) have managed that IN TOTAL, meaning City fans have seen their team score more goals before half-time than 15 clubs have seen full stop.

“It's a remarkable feat, and credit must go to Guardiola and his players for a relentless drive to score as many goals as possible. They may not have had to work particularly hard for their latest three but you need to be in those positions to take advantage of any errors, something the Blues rarely fail to do.”

In a separate piece, he also noted: “City do not need to be mesmerising for 90 minutes because even when they are far from their best - as was the case in the second half - bursts of quality are nearly always enough.

“Where past trips to West Ham have told us something new about Guardiola's side, this simply reaffirmed what is common knowledge these days: City are the team to beat in the Premier League, need no invitation to take advantage of slack defending, and possess remarkable squad depth to carry on as if nothing has happened while they are without three key first-team players.

“The problem everyone else is finding is that even if they know all they can about the champions, doing anything to stop them is an entirely different matter.”

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Echoing those sentiments, Sky Sports pundit Phil Thompson told Jeff Stelling he feels the ‘exceptional’ Blues could complete the league season undefeated.

“There wasn’t an absolute abundance of chances for this Manchester City side but they’re clinical and they’re all on the same wavelength when they’re attacking,” he declared.

“This game was over after 35 minutes for Manchester City. They’re 3-0 up and then just do what you’d expect in the second half.

“People will say West Ham made a fist of it but its only because City literally took their foot off the gas.

“West Ham did keep on going in fairness but some of the stuff from Manchester City is quite outstanding – the way they move the ball around.

“All the ‘S’s scored – Sterling, Silva and Sane, twice. They were quite exceptional. Sterling had two assists and a goal … Sane’s just unbelievable. It’s absolutely fantastic.

“This team… goodness gracious, how do you stop them? They don’t look as though they’re going to lose.”

One of those three ‘S’s – David Silva – received special praise from Four Four Two, who purred: “Given his persistent brilliance since joining City from Valencia in 2010, suggesting Silva is playing the best football of his career is not a statement to make lightly.

“But the way he weaves silken threads through all the best work Pep Guardiola's team produce – few players have ever felt so purpose-built for the Catalan's approach – is truly something to behold.

“A relative weakness in front of goal has generally been Silva's weakness throughout a decorated career. He now has five in City's past six matches and eight for the season.”

In other news, Bitter and Blue’s Caroline Sherratt has previewed today’s FA Women’s Super League clash against Yeovil, as Nick Cushing’s side also return to domestic action.

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“Twelve Man City Women’s players are returning from the international break, with Georgia Stanway and Ellie Roebuck making their senior debuts, captain Steph Houghton receiving her 100th Lionesses cap and Jen Beattie, Caroline Weir and Claire Emslie playing in a friendly against the USA,” writes Sherratt.

Keira Walsh was back in training this week, after suffering an injury against Liverpool that kept her off England duty as was Mie Jans. Another positive sign was Megan Campbell posting an image of her in football boots onto her Instagram story, which means a New Year return is possible.

“The Blues take on Yeovil at the Clayson Stadium in Dorchester on Sunday November 25th, kick off is at three o’clock with tickets available on the day. If you can’t make it, the game is being streamed live on the FA WSL Facebook page.”

Elsewhere, looking ahead to Tuesday night’s Champions League clash against Lyon, forward Nabil Fekir has declared himself available for selection.

As Goal’s Jon Fisher reports: “Fekir was taken off at half-time during the Ligue 1 derby clash against Saint-Etienne on Friday with an adductor injury, sparking concerns he could miss the midweek Group F game with Pep Guardiola's City.”

However, the France international stated: "Everything is fine, I'm recovering.

"We had some trouble in the first half but the most important thing is the victory. I'll be there on Tuesday."

Finally, there’s a snippet of transfer gossip as the Telegraph assert Wolves are ready to snub any interest in alleged City target Ruben Neves.

According to John Percy: “Wolverhampton Wanderers are ready to warn any interested clubs that Ruben Neves is not for sale at any price in January.

“Neves, the Portugal international, is staying with Wolves for at least the remainder of this season after an impressive start to his career in the Premier League.

“Manchester City, Arsenal and Juventus are understood to be admirers of the £15m midfielder but the Wolves board will make clear that he is not going anywhere when the transfer window reopens.”

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