City roared back to form after thrashing Crystal Palace 4-0 at the Etihad.
Two goals in each half - plus a third successive clean sheet - were enough to send the Blues back to the top of the Premier League, if only for a couple of hours!
Manuel Pellegrini had hinted fresh legs may be needed for this game and was true to his word as he shuffled his pack for the visit of Alan Pardew’s side.
There were five changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Everton in midweek with Fabian Delph, Aleks Kolarov, Pablo Zabaleta, David Silva and Kelechi Iheanacho all recalled
...City v Palace...
Palace started impressively with City unable to get out of their own half for the first few minutes and the visitors should have made their superiority count with a gilt-edged opportunity less than two minutes in.
Connor Wickham’s excellent cross into the six-yard box found Damien Delaney’s well-timed run and the Eagles skipper powered his header towards goal - but Joe Hart made a fine instinctive save to keep the scores level.
In freezing conditions, it took the Blues several minutes to warm to the task with Silva and Iheanacho trying to spark the hosts into life and though the breakthrough didn’t arrive until the halfway point of the opening period, it was worth waiting for.
There seemed little on as Delph picked up the ball in Palace’s half, but the England midfielder drove forward unchallenged before unleashing a powerful low shot from fully 30 yards that squirmed under Wayne Hennessey and into the net.
Palace continued to look lively, particularly from set-pieces, but it was Aguero who came closest to adding to City’s lead with an unusual shot from a sitting position on 38 minutes as he poked a shot a foot wide after stumbling in the six-yard box.
Two minutes later, the Argentinian doubled the Blues’ lead as Iheanacho played a short pass to his strike partner who decided to have a crack from 20 yards out – it was worth it, too as his effort brushed the head of Scott Dann on the way, giving Hennessey no chance.
City hadn’t played that well yet went into the break with a two-goal cushion and the promise of perhaps more to come.
Snow was falling steadily as the second half began and the general pattern of the game continued with City not at their sparkling best, but still comfortable.
During a break in play there was even time for the South Stand to serenade Zabaleta’s 31st birthday – also his 200th Premier League appearance for City – as the clock ticked on.
The Blues finally put the game to bed on 69 minutes with a superb team goal, started by Silva who found Yaya Toure on the edge of the box; the Ivorian bided his time, slipped in Kevin De Bruyne and the Belgian’s pinpoint cross was thumped home by Aguero.
Palace almost pulled one back as Yohan Cabaye’s 30-yard drive curled inches wide of the target, but it was City who had the final say with a fourth six minutes from time.
De Bruyne won a challenge just inside of his own half and Aguero was first to react, pushing the ball past the last defender and powering towards goal.
Unselfishly, as he approached Hennessey, he played the ball to Silva instead of completing his hat-trick and the Spaniard made no mistake from eight yards to round off a handsome win.
A job well done, considering all four shots on target found the back of the net, and the Blues very much back on track.