In a routine afternoon in Yorkshire, Manchester City beat Huddersfield 0-3.

The defending Premier League Champions were made to work in a tricky first-half, but came away with a simple win thanks to a devastating second-half spell. Who were the winners and losers?

Winner: Leroy Sané

What a majestic young man Leroy Sané is. The German started the season in something of a funk, and many wondered if he had permanently lost his spot in the Manchester City side given that Benjamin Mendy seemed to have taken his role of wide-left cross-machine and he thus found it hard to get into the side.

But then Mendy got injured, Sané got back into the XI and then good times were once again a-rollin’. Sané was supreme against Huddersfield in the second half, conjuring a magical assist for City’s second goal by bending the ball with Beckham-esque fury, ensuring that City don’t miss the talents of their oft-injured left-back.

That assist ensured that Sané is well out on his own in terms of goal creators; since the start of 2017/18 he has registered 23 assists, more than anyone else in that time-frame. Moreover those assists have come every 159.3 minutes, which is the smallest ratio by some margin amongst the top assisters (Kevin De Bruyne is next with an assist every 206.56 minutes).

As if that goal creation wasn’t enough, Sané added a goal to make his afternoon complete. It was actually a stunning goal too, surging in behind to latch on to Sergio Aguero’s header, driving into the box and then gently slipping the ball in at the near-post to complete the rout. The best winger currently active in the Premier League, for sure.

Loser: Riyad Mahrez

Poor Mahrez. He tried to sign for just about anyone in the summer of 2017 only to be denied. Eventually, however, he did leave Leicester and joined City for a colossal £60m. You’d think such a fee would ensure that he had a place in the starting XI, right? Wrong.

Mahrez has spent most of the season sat on the bench. He’s been an unused substitute 12 times so far this season, which is more games than he’s started (10) and come off the bench (9). This afternoon he wasn’t even on the bench as City coasted to an easy win, which should concern him greatly especially as it was the City wingers who settled the tie. In fact when the season is all over, it’s likely that his most noteworthy contribution is going to be missing the penalty that would have given City a huge win at Anfield.

Winner: Danilo

Danilo was part of Manchester City’s splurge on full-backs in the summer of 2017, but he has failed to live up to the expectation placed on him by his transfer fee in the same way that Kyle Walker has. He’s not even shown flashes of genius as well as being a crucial locker room personality and social media sensation as injury-hit Benjamin Mendy has.

But Danilo made a huge impact today. Playing at left-back (because Guardiola seems bounce and determined to avoid addressing either of his two positions of weakness in January) he opened the scoring with an absolute thunderbolt of a shot. Sure, it took a big deflection on its way to getting into the back of the net, but in a first-half where City were all too complacent and ripe for being picked off on the break by a plucky side with a new manager, Danilo’s goal was crucial. He also played a delightful early pass forward for City’s third goal.

Loser: Liverpool

The Reds rode their own rocky fixture against Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon to pick up a big win, extending their lead to seven points. Once again Manchester City had to wait a day before answering, and they were made to work at Huddersfield.

Perhaps it was the pressure of the situation, or maybe the fact that they could easily dominate the middle third of the pitch that lulled them into a false sense of security – but at half-time it was easy to see how they could come a cropper here against a motivated Huddersfield side.

Instead, City turned on the style in a brief second-half spell and absolutely blew Huddersfield off the pitch. They reduced Liverpool’s lead to four points again and did so with a terrifying hint of their true potential as they didn’t even start Bernardo or David Silva and Gabriel Jesus didn’t even have to come off the bench.

Winner: Kevin De Bruyne

Kevin De Bruyne was arguably the best player in the Premier League last season as Manchester City romped to a phenomenal title win, but this season injury has left him on the sidelines for the vast majority of the action. Today he started and although he was far from his vintage best, we saw slivers of his genius begin to flash again.

He played the full 90 minutes, which is always important for a player recovering. And some of his passes were sublime, including the pre-assist for City’s second goal when he found Leroy Sané in behind the defence. Moreover his pressing, a crucial part of his game, was beginning to creak into gear again; he was one of the key forces behind City winning the ball back in the move that led to their third goal too.

The last thing Manchester City’s rivals want is Kevin De Bruyne finding his form, but that looks like what’s happening.

Winner: Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola’s face as the match wound down to half-time looked like a man whose side were getting smashed by four or five goals, not one that was winning 0-1. But that’s the thing about Guardiola: he’s a perfectionist, and City were not playing with anything like the required energy and focus. It was so sloppy.

But City came out of half-time with a whole different energy. They blew Huddersfield away with two goals, and then even though they had full control of the game they didn’t let their intensity drop. They continued to boss and control the game, something which has to fill Guardiola with so much joy because he was able to lift his side at the break without making any substitutions or tactical tweaks.

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