Manchester City fans will be rueing the cataclysmic calamity of the combination of Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and his defender Toby Alderweireld to allow Liverpool to sneak all three points at Anfield the past gameweek, that has seen the Reds leapfrog back to the top of the Premier League table.
Pep Guardiola’s Citizens, however, have a chance to hit the lofty heights again in the feisty title challenge with a home win over relegation battlers Cardiff City at the Etihad Stadium this midweek.
They’ll have to do it without Golden Boot-chasing Sergio Agüero, currently top dog in the entire Premier League with 19 goals this season, with the Argentinian being ruled out through injury.
In his stead will likely come his ‘understudy’, similarly straight from South America, Gabriel Jesus.
Jesus hasn’t started a league game since the 14th January, in a 3-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, though it was a match in which he popped up with a brace.
Though limited to cameo appearances in the Premier League, in 2019 he has now scored an impressive 12 goals for club and country, the latest coming in the recent international break for Brazil.
Against the Czech Republic, the Canarinho saw out a 3-1 victory. Roberto Firmino pounced on Czech incompetency to equalise after the hosts had gone ahead thanks to David Pavelka to drag Brazil back into the game, and then a brace from Jesus sealed the deal. He of the perpetually frightened eyebrows came on as a second-half sub with less than 20 minutes to play but provided the sparkle so Tite’s men didn’t leave Prague disappointed.
Close to skying it over with a tricky bobbling cross-ball from David Neres, Jesus emphatically thunked it into the back of the net to give Brazil the advantage, and followed it up with a second after an excellent Brazil move, and though the first shot was initially parried, Jesus demonstrated the composure and concentration and clinical touch to fire in to put the result beyond doubt at the Sinobo Stadium.
With that welcome boost, his club manager Pep Guardiola - as well as confirming Agüero’s absence - placed faith in the young striker, who just turns 22-years-old on game-day;
"It is a challenge but he's had a good season.
"It is not easy to play at this club as a striker, with the position of Sergio. Gabriel fights against a legend, an incredible player.
"[Jesus] is a respectful guy and when he plays, he plays well. Tomorrow he is going to help us, score goals and fight and create spaces for the others.” (SkySports)
Jesus was the first player to both score and assist in his first Premier League start for Man City, and at one point had the best minutes per goal ratio in the competition (from players with a minimum of ten goals).
Though at the beginning of the 2018/19 season he went on a run of 11 games without scoring a goal in the Premier League, Jesus has been directly involved in 22 goals in 37 games this season (17 goals, five assists), one more than he managed in 42 games last campaign (17 goals, three assists).
Man City are unbeaten in their last six home meetings with Cardiff, winning their only previous Premier league meeting 4-2 in January 2014.
Cardiff haven’t kept a league clean sheet against Man City in any of their last 13 meetings, having conceded 34 goals, or an average of 2.6 per game. The last time they were successful in doing so was in a 0-0 home draw over half a century ago, in February 1962, eight months before the first James Bond film came out.
Confident in the fortress of the Etihad, Man City have won 16 of their last 17 Premier League home games, with only that 3-2 loss to Crystal Palace the exception. They are unbeaten in their 35 EPL home games against promoted sides since a 2-0 loss to Reading in 2007 and Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock has failed to win an away game against City in six occasions, and with his side also failing to score in all meetings.
City also haven’t lost a midweek home game in almost nine years, since May 2010.
Manchester City v Cardiff City kicks off on 3rd April 2019 at 19:45 (GMT).
Gabriel Jesus scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to help Brazil seal a victory over Czech Republic 🇧🇷🙌