Saturday 24 February 2018

Manchester City midfielder Fabian Delph delighted to return to winning ways

Fabian Delph struck as Manchester City beat Hull
Fabian Delph struck as Manchester City beat Hull

Fabian Delph felt Manchester City restored some stability with Saturday's routine 3-1 victory over Hull.

The recently-recalled Delph got on the scoresheet as City claimed their first win in five Premier League games in a one-sided encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

Successive draws against Stoke and Liverpool before the March international break followed by another at Arsenal and a defeat at Chelsea last week had just loosened City's grip on a top-four spot.

The Stamford Bridge loss to the competition's leaders, which killed off any lingering hopes of a late charge for the title, was particularly galling but the response was convincing and eased some concerns.

Midfielder Delph said: "The response was the most pleasing thing. We're delighted, mostly with the three points and the way we bounced back from the midweek game.

"It was important to get the three points and steady the ship and we are going home happy. Now we will have a couple of days to rest our legs and we will look to the next game."

City remain in a battle with Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton for Champions League qualification but they never looked like ceding any ground as they took on the relegation-threatened Tigers.

Pep Guardiola's men completely controlled the game and won comfortably with Sergio Aguero and Delph adding to a first-half own goal from Ahmed Elmohamady.

The hosts created several other chances without really hitting top gear, although Raheem Sterling tormented Hull throughout. City's second goal - the culmination of a move from one end of the field to the other in which all 11 players touched the ball - was also a perfect demonstration of the free-flowing game Guardiola wishes to play.

The only blip was a mistake from much-maligned goalkeeper Claudio Bravo five minutes from time. The Chilean, who had been surprisingly recalled after seven games on the bench, had little to do throughout the game but then allowed an Andrea Ranocchia shot to slip through his grasp for a Hull consolation.

Guardiola later highlighted the 33-year-old's positive involvement in build-up play but questions will remain over his shot-stopping ability having now conceded from the last seven attempts he has faced in the Premier League.

Delph, however, was pleased with his own contribution. Fitness issues have prevented him from having a prolonged run in the side since he joined City from Villa in 2015 and he has had to bide his time under Guardiola.

The 27-year-old said: "It's great to get some game time. We work really hard Monday to Friday and when you are selected for the game that's the icing on the cake.

"In the last couple of games I've got two 90 minutes, which is very rare for me since I signed for City, so I am happy."

Defeat was a blow for Hull after two consecutive victories had enhanced their chances of beating the drop, but they at least remained outside the bottom three and are still optimistic.

Manager Marco Silva said: "Our destiny remains in our own hands and this is important. We have to keep it this way. We are in a six-week fight now.

"We believe in our capacity to be successful. I believed that when I arrived here and I have tried to pass this on to my players. It is a big fight until the end."

Press Association

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