$190m recruit ignites City's title defence

2 months ago 18
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Manchester City's Jack Grealish closed his eyes, looked toward the sky, and stuck his index fingers into his ears.

A goal celebration most famously performed by Netherlands star Memphis Depay probably didn't stop the England international hearing the chant of "Super Jack Grealish" that was ringing around Etihad Stadium last night.

Manchester City might just have a new fans' favourite.

Scoring scruffy tap-ins against a team like Norwich wasn't the reason why the Premier League champions spent a British-record fee of $190 million on the England international during the offseason.

There is plenty more to come from Grealish — most notably on the Champions League stage where he has been desperate to perform for so long — but it's not a bad start.

Jack Grealish of Manchester City celebrates scoring their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Norwich City at Etihad Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images) (Getty)

Grealish marked his home debut for City by scoring the second goal in a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich, the heaviest win so far in a league campaign that is just halfway through its second round.

He might not have scored an uglier goal — a cross from Gabriel Jesus went through a crowd of players, struck a surprised Grealish on the inside of his left leg, and dribbled over the line — but they all count.

Grealish certainly looked like he enjoyed it.

Much tougher tests await for City, but the way the champions overran Norwich showed they might be starting to find their form after a disappointing start to the season at Tottenham, where they lost 1-0 last weekend.

Players of Manchester City celebrate their side's first goal, an own goal by Tim Krul of Norwich City (not pictured) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Norwich City at Etihad Stadium on August 21, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Manchester City FC/Manchester City FC via Getty Image (Getty)

Second-half goals by Aymeric Laporte and substitutes Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez completed a win that was set on its way by an own-goal from Norwich goalkeeper Tim Krul.

"Still we are not in our top (form)," City manager Pep Guardiola said. "Still we have many things to do."

Two teams have started with two straight victories and one of them is among City's big rivals for the title.

Liverpool beat Burnley 2-0 through goals by Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane. That came a week after its 3-0 win at Norwich, whose return to the top flight couldn't have gotten off to a tougher start.

Liverpool now goes to the top spot on the table.

Brighton is the other team with six points after beating Watford 2-0.

Diogo Jota of Liverpool celebrates scoring with team mate Sadio Mane during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Burnley at Anfield on August 21, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Image (Getty)

FULL HOUSE

Since the last time there was a full house at Anfield — in March 2020 — Liverpool has won the league title for the first time in 30 years and relinquished it to Man City.

Liverpool's fans were back in force and there was something of a celebratory atmosphere against Burnley, which had claimed a shock victory in the same fixture last season to end Liverpool's 68-game unbeaten run at Anfield in the league.

Jota scored for the second straight game to put Liverpool ahead and Mane converted a pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold to seal the three points.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp expressed his concern after the game about the directive that looks to be pushing referees to let games flow more this season and therefore involve fewer interruptions by VAR. He was unhappy about aggressive challenges by Burnley's players.

"Watch wrestling if you like these kind of things," Klopp said.

BRIGHTON IMPRESSING

Shane Duffy marked his return to Brighton's team by setting up the win over Watford with a thumping header.

It was the first Premier League goal since November 2019 for the Ireland center back, who spent last season on loan at Celtic after making just 12 starts in two years under Graham Potter at Brighton.

Brighton and Hove Albion's Neal Maupay (centre) celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game with team-mates during the Premier League match at the AMEX Stadium, Brighton. Picture date: Saturday August 21, 2021. (Photo by Kieran Cleeves/PA Images via Getty Images) (Getty)

Neal Maupay latched onto Yves Bissouma's interception for his second goal in as many games, with Brighton having started with a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Burnley. Maupay was forced out of action at halftime with a suspected shoulder injury.

SPECTACULAR INGS

Aston Villa used the funds raised by the sale of Grealish to buy Danny Ings from Southampton in the offseason, and the striker has made an impressive start with his new club.

He scored with a stunning bicycle kick in first-half stoppage time to help Villa beat Newcastle 2-0. Ings also netted, via a late penalty, in Villa's loss at Watford last weekend.

Anwar El Ghazi converted a penalty for Villa's second goal against Newcastle, which has slumped to consecutive losses.

Leeds twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Everton, while Brentford remained unbeaten in its first top-flight campaign since 1947 after drawing 0-0 at Crystal Palace.

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