Gabriel Jesus scored his first Premier League goals since August as Manchester City defeated Everton 3-1 at the Etihad.
The 21-year-old Brazilian scored twice, either side of half time with a low shot and a header, both from Leroy Sane assists.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave Everton hope midway trough the second half, but just four minutes later Raheem Sterling scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute to seal the points for City.
It was a typical performance from the Citizens as they bounced back from last week’s defeat at Chelsea, Jesus exemplifying the improvement in their attacking game.
He was one of three changes from last weekend, with Nicolas Otamendi and Ilkay Gundogan also coming in for John Stones, David Silva and Raheem Sterling.
Everton also made changes after their draw with Watford on Monday night, Idrissa Gueye and Theo Walcott making way for Kurt Zouma and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as the Toffees switched to a back five.
Jesus arrives at the party
Since netting in City’s 6-1 victory over Huddersfield in August, Gabriel Jesus had gone over 400 Premier League minutes without scoring.
With Sergio Aguero only limited to the bench after a spell on the sidelines, Jesus was recalled after being dropped for the loss at Chelsea.
He repaid his manager’s faith in style, clinically converting a quick move in the first half before powerfully heading past Jordan Pickford after the break.
The 21-year-old has recently been joined in Manchester by his mother, and commented after the game of his improved confidence in what has been a difficult period in front of goal.
De Bruyne returns from injury
Pep Guardiola has continued to rotate his squad through the course of the season, despite an unfortunate injury list.
David Silva was this week ruled out for the remainder of 2018, and fans could have been forgiven for worrying about their side’s ability to continue their title defence through the busy festive schedule.
But fans will have been delighted to see Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero return to the matchday squad for the visit of Everton, with De Bruyne playing the last 14 minutes from the bench.
The Belgian midfielder has not yet played a full match in the league this season, but City had barely seemed to miss his influence until last week’s display against Chelsea.
Pep Guardiola will continue to ease both De Bruyne and Aguero back to full fitness, and their return hugely aids City’s quest to retain the Premier League title.
Richarlison misses huge chance at 0-0
Everton were well beaten on the day, but things could’ve been very different if Richarlison had given them an early lead.
The Brazilian missed the target with a volley with the score at 0-0, at which point City had barely threatened the Everton net.
The 21-year-old summer signing from Watford has been a key figure for Everton so far this season, but will not look back fondly on this game.
City home form impressive
This victory over Everton was City’s ninth win from nine home league games this season, in which they have scored 33 goals.
Only Liverpool and Arsenal have scored more goals in all of their home games, demonstrating City’s utter dominance when playing in front of their own fans.
It must be said that they have not yet played any of the top five at the Etihad, and those sides will likely provide the biggest test of City’s home resolve.
Everton themselves have the fifth best home record so far, but are 15th in the away table. The Toffees must improve on the road if they are to mount a serious challenge for the top six.
Everton much improved this season
Despite being one of only three sides to leave the Etihad with at least a point last season, 2017/18 was something of a disaster for Everton.
But Marco Silva has transformed the club this season, playing better football and improved in both defence and attack.
The Portuguese’s decision to move to a back five proved unsuccessful as City completely dominated possession in the first half, but Silva’s second half reshuffle changed the game and saw the Toffees consistently threaten the City goal.
Though second best to City, Everton had chances and scored a good goal. This game will not be an indicator of how their season will finish, but if Everton can improve their away form they have a realistic chance of keeping pace with Manchester United.