By Greg Stobart at the Etihad Stadium
With every passing week, Manchester City present another reason as to why they can usurp Manchester United and win the Premier League title this season.
On Saturday, Norwich were the victims at the Etihad Stadium as Roberto Mancini's side produced a performance that oozed confidence and control to win 5-1, even though the hosts barely got out of third gear.
City have now scored as astonishing 48 goals in 14 Premier League matches in which they have dropped only two points, while they have scored three or more goals in 11 of those fixtures. They had to wait until the 32nd minute to breach Norwich's backline through Sergio Aguero, but turned the result into a rout with second-half strikes from Samir Nasri, Yaya Toure, Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson.
It is a mark of just how much quality City possess in the final third that five different scorers found the net in a win that rewarded Roberto Mancini's faith in their playing style as much as anything.
Norwich arrived in Manchester with the sole objective of trying to secure a goalless draw, highly organised and playing with 10 men behind the ball whenever City were in possession. While other teams might have grown frustrated by the visitors' tactics, City always looked completely confident, even when they were struggling to create chances in the first half-an-hour.
The league leaders manipulated the ball and worked the little space that there was, knowing that they have players capable of producing a moment of brilliance to turn a game.
That came from Aguero, who wriggled into a fraction of space in a crowded penalty area before expertly toe-poking the ball between two sets of legs into the far corner. It was his 13th goal of the season – and just about the only way he could have scored in that situation.
City Firing | Aguero's great strike set hosts on their way to victory over Norwich
|CITY'S IMPRESSIVE HOME FORM
However, by 10pm on Wednesday night, they could once again find themselves in Europe's second tier after their home match against Bayern Munich. To keep their Champions League dream alive, City need to beat the German giants at the Etihad and hope Napoli fail to beat Villarreal.
While City have looked somewhat naive in the Champions League this season, they have been relentless in the Premier League. In his pre-match programme notes, Mancini wrote about the importance of the next two months, during which City face tough fixtures against Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham.
But if they carry on as they are, City could have the title all but wrapped up by the end of March. They simply have too much quality for their domestic opponents at the moment – and they are making it count.
In the second-half of Premier League matches alone, City have scored 35 goals, more than any other side has scored in total. They are tearing teams to shreds. Their home form against sides who park the bus has been particularly important.
While some of their rivals fail to break teams down, City have had no such problems. Like a boxer who knows he is superior, City tire opponents with their manipulation of the ball, they work them over. Then with their opponents fatigued, bedraggled and sapped of belief, City take them apart late on. Aston Villa and Swansea, among others, have suffered the same fate in the second-half of matches at the Etihad.
With such form comes the swagger of potential champions, highlighted when Balotelli, on as a second-half substitute, decided to turn the ball in with his shoulder from a yard out for City's fourth. Johnson, another substitute, rounded off the victory in added time, as if to prove City's strength in depth.
It has been goals galore for Manchester City this season. And they don't look like stopping.
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