Belfast Telegraph

Fernandinho enjoying Manchester City's goal rush

Midfielder Fernandinho claimed goal difference was on his mind as free-scoring Manchester City hit five against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

City took their goal tally for the Premier League season to 21 in just six games as they thrashed the bottom side 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

It was not enough to shake off Manchester United and move clear at the top of the table but it did give City an edge courtesy of a goal difference four better than their rivals.

Fernandinho said: "If you compare with last year - we created so many chances to score goals but we didn't score. This year we just score.

"I don't know what has changed, to be honest, I am not a specialist to talk about that, but I am so happy we are scoring goals.

"This is important because one of the things that can decide the title is goal difference, and we are on the right way."

City's emphatic victory sent out another strong warning of their title credentials to the rest of the competition on the back of a 5-0 hammering of Liverpool and 6-0 demolition of Watford.

Fernandinho insisted, however, that any title talk was far too premature.

The Brazilian added: "It is just the beginning of the Premier League. We all know how tough it is.

"The most important thing is to get to December in the same level we are in now and try to get the most possible number of points, then to arrive there in February or March with a good chance to fight for the title."

City had no need to bring Gabriel Jesus off the bench as they swept Palace, who are still to register a point or score a goal in the league, aside.

It was not all plain sailing for Pep Guardiola's men as the visitors survived a flurry of chances early on and then threatened themselves with Ruben Loftus-Cheek hitting the post and spurning another chance.

Guardiola even showed his frustration on the touchline but once the outstanding Leroy Sane showed neat control to open the scoring after 44 minutes the result was not in doubt.

Raheem Sterling struck twice after the interval and Sergio Aguero notched his 176th City goal, one short of the club record, before substitute Fabian Delph completed the rout.

"It's ridiculous to sit and talk about positives when you have been beaten 5-0," admitted Palace boss Roy Hodgson, whose side face United and Chelsea in their next two games.

Hodgson, appointed earlier this month, hopes to summon the spirit of a decade ago when he kept Fulham in the top flight from a seemingly impossible position.

He said: "It is equal to that, without a shadow of a doubt, but the difference is when I came into Fulham there were 18 games to play. Here we have still got 32 games to play.

"What we have got to do is make sure we don't start panicking and accept we are in a hopeless position at the end of September, because October, November, December, January, February, March, April and May can change so many things."

City's immediate thoughts now turn to Tuesday's visit of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. For Fernandinho, that means a reunion with the club he left to join City in 2013.

The 32-year-old said: "The next game is my former team. I am so glad to play against them. I had great times over there, with my team-mates and the fans. It will be nice to see them all again.

"We have to be prepared because they are a dangerous team. They're full of good players, they like to play technical football. It will be a great game."

Fernandinho is now in the final year of his contract at City but discussions are under way over a new deal.

Asked if he would like to stay, Fernandinho said: "Always. We're talking, we'll see what happens."

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