Manchester City have kept pace on Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Gabriel Jesus gave Man City the lead after just 10 minutes, sliding the ball into an open net following Leroy Sane’s cross.
Things got worse for Wolves 10 minutes later when Willy Boly was shown a straight red card after a bad tackle on Bernardo Silva in the middle of the pitch.
Jesus got his second of the game shortly before half-time from the penalty spot, after Ryan Bennett had fouled Raheem Sterling in the box.
The win was solidified with less than 15 minutes to go as Conor Coady glanced Kevin De Bruyne’s teasing cross into the back of his own net.
Pep Guardiola’s side returned to just four points behind Liverpool after 22 games.
But who were the winners and losers on the night?
Winner: Gabriel Jesus
New year, new Gabriel Jesus, or so it seems.
The Brazilian had his struggles in 2018, starting off the year injured and ending it out of form with just seven goals from 24 games. But Jesus has started the past three games for City across all competitions and has scored in each match.
It started with City’s fourth in their 7-0 FA Cup third round win over Rotherham last weekend, having sat out their victory against Liverpool. Then, four goals in the League Cup as Pep Guardiola’s men thrashed League One Burton Albion 9-0 in their semi-final first leg.
There had been some minor fears Jesus’ form would dip again after his family, who had been visiting for Christmas, had returned to Brazil following the win over Burton. And, as a result, fans were not overly happy with the Brazilian starting over Sergio Aguero on Monday night.
But, within just 10 minutes, the forward had put the fears to rest opening the scoring with an instinctive finish. The move happened very quickly, with the defence splitting ball from Aymeric Laporte finding Leroy Sane. The German drilled the ball across goal and there was Jesus in the right place at the right time, sliding in to put City ahead.
There was a minor scare midway through the first half as Jesus’ head collided with a goalpost, but the Brazilian was deemed fit enough to play on. And he got his second five minutes before half-time, converting from the penalty spot after Sterling was fouled.
Back-to-back hat-tricks were not to be had for the Brazilian, as he was replaced by Aguero with 15 minutes to go, but Jesus’ slump is well and truly other.
To make things even more ridiculous for Jesus, the Brazilian has outscored 18 Premier League teams across all competitions in 2019. Only Tottenham Hotspur (11) and, of course, Man City (21), have scored more than his seven this year.
Loser: Willy Boly
Willy Boly was the centre of controversy when these two last met in the Premier League, scoring the opener in a 1-1 draw with his hand, in a game marred by calls for VAR.
However, the defender’s involvement in Monday’s game was certainly a lot clearer – and shorter.
August 2018: Willy Boly scores first Premier League goal vs. Man City. ⚽️
January 2019: Willy Boly receives first Premier League red card vs. Man City. 🔴
Mixed memories. pic.twitter.com/Kr6jnKdDyb
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) January 14, 2019
After going 1-0 down after 10 minutes, Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo would have been urging his players to remain calm and not to do anything silly to jeopardise the away side’s already slim chances of emerging with a point.
But, with the ball in a relatively harmless position 20 minutes in, Boly flew into a challenge on Bernardo Silva, catching the Portuguese midfielder’s ankle. Though it was certainly not intended, the tackle was rash and nasty – with all studs showing. Craig Pawson deemed it worthy of a red and Wolves were looking at the next 70 minutes against City with one fewer man.
It will go further than that, however, for Boly. The centre-back is set to miss important Premier League matches against Leicester City and West Ham United as well as Wolves’ FA Cup fourth round tie against the winner of Shrewsbury Town and Stoke City.
Winner: Leroy Sane
With every passing game this season in becomes even more bizarre that Leroy Sane was not at the World Cup.
23 – Since the start of last season, Leroy Sane has provided 23 Premier League assists, five more than any other player in that period. Vision. pic.twitter.com/KSpW9Vm0E6
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 14, 2019
The German was his usual exciting self on Monday night, giving Matt Doherty and Ryan Bennett a tough time throughout. It took Sane just 10 minutes to exploit the weaknesses in that partnership as he ran around the outside of Doherty with Bennett tucking in, to get onto the end of Laporte’s excellent through ball.
There was still some work for Sane to do, making sure his cross was far enough away from Rui Patricio in goal but not too far as to miss the onrushing Jesus.
It was a perfectly-weighted pass and Jesus had his sixth goal of 2019. But, perhaps more impressively, Sane had his 23rd Premier League assist since the start of last season. In that time no other player has recorded more, with City teammate Raheem Sterling his closest rival on 18.
Eight of those 23 have come this season, with only Eden Hazard (10) and Ryan Fraser (nine) managing more in the Premier League so far. The only thing really missing from Sane’s game was a goal, but with City taking their foot off the medal the German understandably preserved his energy ahead of a busy month.
Loser: Ryan Bennett
With Sane, the assists keep on coming. For Ryan Bennett, the penalties conceded keep on coming.
The centre-back was never going to have an easy task up against the likes of Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, and he potentially could have done better to stop Laporte’s through ball to Sane in the build up to Jesus’ first goal.
Ryan Bennett has given away both of the penalties that have Wolves have conceded in the Premier League season.
An unwanted statistic. 😕 pic.twitter.com/WYFxJkLSfQ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 14, 2019
However, Bennett’s part in City’s second was a lot clearer.
With City pressing for another goal just before half-time, the ball found its way to Sterling in Wolves’ penalty area. The Englishman beat Bennett easily, but the centre-back proceeded to trip Sterling inside the area giving the referee very little option but to point to the spot.
It was the second penalty Wolves have conceded in the Premier League this season, having also seen one given against them in their 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at the start of 2019. The guilty party then? Once again Bennett, as he brought down Wilfried Zaha inside the box.
Winner: Kevin De Bruyne
Ladies and gentleman, Kevin De Bruyne is well and truly back.
After a brilliant 2017/18 season, De Bruyne has endured a tough first half of the current campaign, making just 11 appearances in all competitions prior to Monday’s match.
The Belgian has been hampered with serious injury problems on two separate occasions, with each resulting on long spells out. Having missed the past two Premier League games, De Bruyne made his return to the City side for their 7-0 FA Cup drubbing of Rotherham and 9-0 thrashing of Burton in the League Cup – recording an assist against the former, and scoring against the latter.
But, rightfully so, Guardiola was not tempted to rush the Belgian back in fear of another injury layoff with De Bruyne starting Monday’s game on the bench.
He did come on with 30 minutes to go and immediately looked to get City a third goal whether by his own foot or setting up a team-mate. In the end it would be by neither, though he will receive all the plaudits.
With just over 10 minutes to go, a short corner was played to De Bruyne on the right of Wolves’ area. The midfielder sent a teasing in-swinging cross into the box which ended up in the back of the net, via Conor Coady’s leg.
It won’t officially go down as an assist for De Bruyne, but it certainly was another sign of the Belgian’s return.
Loser: Huddersfield Town
There is no good time for a team to part company with their manager during the season, but sometimes drastic action has to be taken.
That was pretty much the case on Monday evening when Huddersfield announced David Wagner had left the club by mutual consent, with chairman Dean Hoyle citing the German’s need for a break as one of the reasons.
📝 David Wagner has departed his role as Head Coach of #htafc by mutual consent.
The 47-year-old leaves Town after detailed discussions with the Board of Directors, with both parties agreeing this is the correct move for the future of the Club.
— Huddersfield Town (@htafcdotcom) January 14, 2019
Hoyle also confirmed coach Mark Hudson would be taking charge of the Terriers’ next game while the club look for a permanent replacement. Their opponents? Manchester City.
After a poor end to 2018, Pep Guardiola’s side look like a team of sharks smelling blood having scored 21 goals in four games since the turn of the New Year.
With 59 goals in total in the Premier League, no team has scored more goals than Man City, while Huddersfield have one of the worst defences in the division conceding 37.
City’s strength in depth showed once more against Wolves too, with Guardiola able to replace David Silva with Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane with Ilkay Gundogan and Jesus with Sergio Aguero.
Even as the game petered out, with City comfortable, the home side never looked close to conceding – something they will take into Sunday’s game against a team to have scored just 13 Premier League goals this season.