Canarian stuffs Eagles…and not a turkey in sight! Man City 3 Crystal Palace 0

A City team led by Mark Hughes could see the blue half of Manchester top of the Premier League table just in time for Christmas.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the ex-Manchester City manager could help put his former employers in pole position to retain their title – five years and three days after he was unceremoniously sacked by the Etihad outfit.

Silva lining - City were without any strikers but Merlin conjured up two goals. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva lining – City were without any strikers but Merlin conjured up two goals. Courtesy@MCFC

If Hughes’ Stoke City can repeat last season’s shock win over Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium on Monday night, it will give Manuel Pellegrini’s men the edge in the two-horse race with Jose Mourinho’s side.

Despite being deprived of all of their senior strikers, Manchester City still scored three goals to overcome a resolute Crystal Palace and go level on 39 points with Chelsea – just one goal shy of hitting the pinnacle of the PL.

Job done - Yaya, Milly & Lamps know the three points are going City's way. Courtesy@MCFC

Job done – Yaya, Milly & Lamps know the three points are going City’s way. Courtesy@MCFC

With Aguero, Dzeko and Jovetic consigned to the stands with injuries, it fell to a Spanish wizard to conjure up the win, on a day of magical milestones for Merlin the Magician – David Silva.

The magic of Merlin - Zaba & Silva celebrate. Courtesy@MCFC

The magic of Merlin – Zaba & Silva celebrate. Courtesy@MCFC

On this, his 200th appearance for Manchester City, Silva received a special award to mark his achievement as the club’s all-time international appearance record holder.

His 49 games for Spain since joining City from Valencia in the summer of 2010 surpassed the 48 played by Colin Bell for England, so it was fitting that ‘Colin The King’ made the presentation to ‘El Mago’.

And as if that little lot wasn’t enough, the man from the Canaries downed the Eagles from London with a second half brace to effectively secure the three points.

Silva lining - The record-breaking Spaniard is up there with Sergio Aguero as City's finest ever. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva lining – The record-breaking Spaniard is up there with Sergio Aguero as City’s finest ever. Courtesy@MCFC

Sublime Silva took the Man of the Match honours as he set the rhythm for a City side that could easily have been out of tune without a conventional forward line.

His 49th minute opening goal – deflected off Palace defender Scott Dann – was greeted with relief by the near capacity 45,302 crowd (that’s tickets sold rather than bums on seats) as City went about shattering Neil Warnock’s family Crystal.

Silva’s second, in the 61st minute, was the culmination of a swift flowing passing movement, with AK47 Kolarov firing in a trademark cross, which City’s grand Canarian swept home past a despairing Julian Speroni.

Captain's performance - Yaya led by example. Courtesy@MCFC

Captain’s performance – Yaya led by example. Courtesy@MCFC

20 minutes later, stand-in skipper Yaya Toure, in what was arguably his most effective game of the season, sealed the win with a thunderbolt shot.

City broke at speed from their 18-yard box with Jesus Navas and, after a lung-busting 70-yard run, Yaya was on hand to smash home James Milner’s beautifully weighted assist.

Palace were denied a legitimate goal when James McArthur’s header was wrongly disallowed for offside.

Team spirit - City are battling to great effect as the injuries pile up. Courtesy@MCFC

Team spirit – City are battling to great effect as the injuries pile up. Courtesy@MCFC

Had ‘assistant referee’ Peter Kirkup not have made the cock up, it could conceivably have altered the complexion of the last 20 minutes of play. As it was, City’s domination of the game (73% possession & 15 shots compared to Palace’s 6) was justly rewarded.

Typically, the apparent ‘injustice’ meted out to Palace is the main media focus after what was a comprehensive home win – City’s eighth consecutive victory since November 8th – when they languished nine points behind Chelsea and, effectively written off in the title race.

Trusted Engineer - Manuel Pellegrini has City on a tremendous run of form. Courtesy@MCFC

Trusted Engineer – Manuel Pellegrini has City on a tremendous run of form. Courtesy@MCFC

Quite what Manuel Pellegrini and his team have to do to ‘earn’ the appropriate recognition is a mystery…but who cares? Actions speak louder than words and City’s winning streak drowns out any mutterings from Mourinho or loquacious offerings from Louis Van Gutteral.

According to a large proportion of the press and pundits, Chelsea won the title last month… and yet more recently, Manchester United are going to win it in March/April when the top two teams are distracted by Champions League commitments…go figure?

Simply Zaba - World Class & the City fans love him. Courtesy@MCFC

Simply Zaba – World Class & the City fans love him. Courtesy@MCFC

You couldn’t make it up, but then again there’s no need, we can leave it to the ‘experts’ because that’s what the City haters and City baiters do best.

Of course, Pellegrini’s ‘One Man’ team have been in freefall since a tearful Sergio Aguero hobbled off in distress against Everton with the game all square at 0-0.

Birthday Boy - Fan's favourite Martin Demichelis came of age against Palace...but did he get a cake? Courtesy@MCFC

Birthday Boy – Fan’s favourite Martin Demichelis came of age against Palace…but did he get a cake? Courtesy@MCFC

Four wins and four clean sheets – despite losing Captain Kompany and the entire attack – later, and the Champions of England are showing their class and professionalism.

Martin Demichelis marked his 34th birthday alongside 23-year old Eliaquim Mangala at the centre of a City defence rapidly returning to the miserly ways of the old Mancini rearguard.

The Mangler - Eliaquim is gaining in stature and confidence. Courtesy@MCFC

The Mangler – Eliaquim is gaining in stature and confidence. Courtesy@MCFC

The combination of experience with exuberance is standing City in good stead. Clean sheets are back in vogue and that’s a big factor in winning matches, especially when you don’t have any fit forwards.

Pablo Zabaleta’s return to world class form is also key to City’s resurgence. Both he and Aleksander Kolarov provided good width and penetrative play down the flanks.

No entry - Joe Hart kept his fourth consecutive clean sheet. Courtesy@MCFC

No entry – Joe Hart kept his fourth consecutive clean sheet. Courtesy@MCFC

Zaba came within inches of his third goal in as many weeks, only to see his cheeky first half ‘dink’ shot elude Speroni, but go agonisingly the wrong side of the post.

Great credit goes to ‘Centre Forward For A Day’ the ever versatile James Milner, who, worked tirelessly and to good effect against a physical Palace backline.

Centre stage - James Milner gave his all for the cause as a makeshift striker. Courtesy@MCFC

Centre stage – James Milner gave his all for the cause as a makeshift striker. Courtesy@MCFC

Samir Nasri’s sustained top quality showings, aligned to the re-awakening of Yaya’s appetite for success in Sky Blue, bodes well as City strive to end the year at a dizzy height.

It doesn’t come much higher than sitting aloft the Premier League as the Fatman in red rolls up in his sleigh. Over to you Hughesy!

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

COMPETITION TIME

In conjunction with Manchester City Football Club, we’ll be announcing the winner of the MCFC Legends Stadium & Club Tour on Christmas Eve, when one lucky City fan will get an early present of two tickets worth £140.

The Legends Stadium & Club Tour - we've two tickets worth £140 for one lucky winner, to be announced on Christmas Eve.

The Legends Stadium & Club Tour – we’ve two tickets worth £140 for one lucky winner, to be announced on Christmas Eve.

The lucky dip draw will take place when David Smith, Business Development Executive at the Etihad, pulls out a name from the countless dozens of entries.

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

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