Manchester City enjoyed a comfortable afternoon at the Etihad as they ran out 4-0 winners over a Crystal Palace side whose poor run of form continues.
Sergio Aguero was at his brilliant best, notching twice before teeing up David Silva for the fourth, after Fabian Delph had put City ahead with a long-range strike.
For Palace it all went wrong after the opening couple of minutes, when Damien Delaney squandered a golden opportunity to put them ahead but planted his free header straight at Joe Hart.
A couple of strikes from Yohan Cabaye threatened to find the net but it was City’s day, although Pardew suggested the scoreline was harsh on his side.
“We still had moments in our offensive play that could have been better, but this does flatter Man City, no doubt about that,” Pardew told the BBC.
“I can’t really be too disappointed – we’ve had chances. It’s a kind of tough one to take really, but, we have to.
“Goals obviously change the complexion of a game. The first goal, Wayne Hennessey should save, the second goal was a deflection – we didn’t deserve to be 2-0 down at half-time.
“”It was a strange game really all day.”
Eagles on the slide?
When does a blip become a slump? After three straight league defeats and five games without a goal it is perhaps fair to suggest it is becoming the latter for Palace. Here, they were annihilated at times by a slick City attack and failed to take the few chances they did create to put any pressure on the hosts.
The hopes of European qualification still exist, but where they were level with fourth-placed Tottenham just a month ago, they are now eight points adrift of their fellow Londoners and the bunch around the middle of the table is becoming tighter. Just ten points separate West Ham in sixth from Chelsea in 14th and ninth-placed Palace have to be careful that they don’t start to drift away from the European challenge and towards the bottom end of that tightly-packed bunch.
Pardew throws down gauntlet to Hennessey
Wayne Hennessey was at fault for Aston Villa’s winner on Tuesday when he fumbled Joleon Lescott’s header into his own net and made another error yesterday by allowing Fabian Delph’s long-range strike to creep under his body and gifting City the lead. Pardew has shown great faith in the Welshman as his number one ahead of Alex McCarthy and Julian Speroni but the manager stressed the need for Hennessey to raise his game and prove his worth this week.
“The ball is in his court to keep out the other two goalkeepers but I need to see it in training,” Pardew said.
“I need to see a reaction from him. Wayne is going to have to show me this week. A mistake at Villa, he needed to respond today and he’s made another mistake.”
City signal title intent
A goalless draw at home to Everton in midweek saw City slip behind Leicester and down to third. It also renewed questions about their title credentials and their stuttering approach under manager Manuel Pellegrini.
But their recent form is good. Unbeaten in their last five league games, City are the Premier League’s top scorers and gave another glimpse of their title credentials by demolishing Palace.
The return to fitness of Sergio Aguero and David Silva is crucial to their hopes and the pair both were on the scoresheet yesterday. If they want to pip Arsenal, and indeed Leicester and Tottenham, to the Premier League title they will have to keep that sensational duo fit between now and the end of the season. With those two on top form, City are tough to stop.
Palace’s need for striker only increases
Pardew reiterated his desire to bring in a striker this window and their display at the Etihad only highlighted the need for attacking reinforcements. While Connor Wickham had a good game and lead the line well, his strengths are in holding the ball up rather than putting the ball in the back of the net. With the creative spark of Yannick Bolasie missing due to injury, it’s hard to see where the goals come from and Pardew needs to solve that conundrum.
The arrival of Charlie Austin at Southampton for a reported £4m might raise a few eyebrows at Selhurst Park. There is a man who scored 18 Premier League goals last season and has scored 10 in 16 games this year in the Championship. A few weeks ago, Pardew insulted former Palace boss Neil Warnock for suggesting they should sign Austin and also suggested they weren’t interested in him. Perhaps rather than lashing out at fellow managers, Pardew should be explaining just why he isn’t interested in a man with a proven goalscoring record, especially in comparison to his goal-shy strikers.