Five Things We Learned: Manchester City 4-2 Crystal Palace (Premier League)
| Last updated
Manchester City came back from the dead against Crystal Palace to win 4-2 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After an own goal from John Stones and a Joachim Andersen header saw Pep Guardiola's men go two down with less than 30 minutes played, an impressive second half comeback inspired by Erling Haaland saw the hosts take all three points against Patrick Vieira's side.
Bernardo Silva pulled one back less than 10 minutes into the second half before Haaland struck thrice in the space of 20 minutes to help the Premier League champions return to winning ways.
With City putting in a champions performance against a tricky Eagles side, here are the five things we learned from the third league win of their title defence:
Erling Haaland is a cheat code
Manchester City had never previously come back to win in the Premier League when they entered half time trailing by two goals.
Then again, the Sky Blues have not always boasted a certain Erling Haaland in their ranks and when the 22-year-old is in the kind of mood where he can net a treble from a mere 18 touches, doubt him at your peril.
For his first, the Norwegian’s positioning was textbook as he stood between Palace’s centre-backs to level proceedings from Phil Foden's inch-perfect cross.
A similar theme of right place at the right time was on show for Haaland’s second as Stones’ scuffed shot found Haaland, who tapped home from close quarters to put City in front.
Haaland saved the best for the closing stages and collected a well-weighted through ball from Ilkay Gundogan to finish past Vicent Guaita with ease to complete his first Manchester City hat-trick.
Bernardo Silva the gamechanger once again
While Erling Haaland will understandably be the biggest talking point from City’s comeback, it was Bernardo Silva who turned the momentum in the hosts’ favour.
On a day when City simply seemed off the boil in the first half, the Portuguese did not miss a beat for a second.
The 28-year-old's relentlessness towards turning the tide of the contest was backed up by his magnetic ball control and encouraging chance creation, which meant he seemed like the most likely player in blue to create something out of nothing.
As Silva did in the 53rd minute, as his long-range effort outside the box was deflected into the back of the net to give the nervy Etihad faithful a much-needed lift.
Minutes later, the former Monaco man ghosted past a series of defenders to nearly replicate an individual move and strike Lionel Messi would have been proud of.
It took an intricate give and go between him and Alvarez to find John Stones in the box, whose scuffed attempt led to Haaland's second and City's third of the evening.
"[My dad] will probably say he had more goals in the #PL than me so I will chase that!" 🇳🇴💙— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 27, 2022
More reaction from our hat-trick hero:https://t.co/1joPEqF7EL
A John Stones performance that deserves its flowers
After a rough outing against Allan Saint-Maximin last week and the concession of a freak own goal in the fourth minute against Crystal Palace, John Stones could have felt as if the world was against him and imploded as the game wore on.
Instead, the assured England international bounced back and put in a flawless defensive display despite conceding twice in the first 21 minutes on Saturday.
Keeping one of the league’s finest dribblers in Eberechi Eze quiet for large parts, the 28-year old rose to the challenge and every time he was called upon, his aerial and ground defending just left no room for complaints.
On the ball as well, Stones was typically brave in terms of carrying the ball out of defence and breaking the lines on plenty of occasions.
Ultimately, fortune favours the brave as the four-time Premier League champion’s miscued attempt landed perfectly in Haaland’s path to hand him an unintentional yet match-defining assist.
All in all, Stones reiterated once again why he is one of the best defenders in the world with a masterful showing.
Pep Guardiola’s tactics helped change the course of the tie
Make no mistake about it, Pep Guardiola’s tactical masterclass turned the game in Manchester City’s favour.
Bringing on Julian Alvarez and Ilkay Gundogan for Riyad Mahrez and Joao Cancelo, Pep Guardiola also made an in-game tactical change of instructing his side to set up in a 3-1-6 shape in possession.
With Alvarez taking up the role of a left winger from Foden, the latter moved into the middle of the park, alongside Gundogan, Rodri and De Bruyne, which created a box midfield that allowed the hosts to exact absolute control.
As the Sky Blues had established their ascendancy in central areas, they did so from wider areas as well, with Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as well as Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez stretching the pitch.
While the goals came down to a culmination of the shift in tactics and Erling Haaland’s individual brilliance, the change in shape is what set the blueprint for a spectacular comeback win.
Despite City’s reputation of always doing things the hard way, has there ever been an air of inevitability when adversity presents itself as much as with this bunch?
The answer may well be a resounding no, as Pep Guardiola himself admitted that he feels his side are capable of coming back from virtually any scoreline, after their heroics against Aston Villa on the final day of last season.
After pulling off a commendable comeback against Newcastle last Saturday, City went one better by putting Crystal Palace to the sword by scoring four goals in the space of 28 minutes.
Not only is that an ominous sign for their prospects of becoming Premier League champions thrice in a row, but also in a competition that ebbs and flows as much as the Champions League.
To possess such bags of quality as well as such an unbreachable mentality makes this City side a scary prospect for any and every team that has the misfortune of coming up against them.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter
Topics: Manchester City, Premier League, Crystal Palace, Erling Haaland, Pep Guardiola, Bernardo Silva, John Stones