Man City got the boost they needed vs Luton - and it was off the pitch
Source: Manchestereveningnews

Manchester City recorded a third straight Premier League win with a 5-1 triumph over Luton Town at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Back on home soil after a midweek trip to Spain to face Real Madrid in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final, City made light work of last season's Championship play-off final winners. After being given a helping hand inside just two minutes, the Blues produced a glut of goals late on to put plenty of gloss on the scoreline.

With both Arsenal and Liverpool not in action until Sunday, the win moved City back to the top of the Premier League table, giving them yet more confidence to take into Wednesday night's second-leg against Madrid at the Etihad. The tie is evenly balanced at 3-3 after a breathtaking 90 minutes in Spain and both sides will fancy their chances of progressing to the last four.

Manager Pep Guardiola had to contend with a defensive shortage ahead of last week's first-leg, travelling to the Spanish capital without both Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake. Josko Gvardiol was initially a doubt but was deemed strong enough to start.

Both Walker and Ake, however, made the cut against Luton, being named on what was a star-studded bench. They each joined the likes of Jack Grealish, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and Rodri in taking up a watching brief.

Guardiola's selection, unsurprisingly, was made with half an eye on the upcoming reunion with Carlo Ancelotti's side. City, regardless of the XI fielded, would have felt confident of getting the better of a side who arrived in Manchester having shipped 38 goals on their travels this season.

It is why Guardiola's decision to rest the likes of Rodri and Foden should stand City in good stead ahead of their midweek showdown, likewise his refusal to throw Walker back in for a game where his side were heavy favourites. The right-back has not played for City since the 2-0 win over Newcastle United in the FA Cup on March 16, after picking up a hamstring injury on England duty during the international break.

Despite turning 34 at the end of next month, Walker remains one of Guardiola's most important and trusted lieutenants, racking up 38 appearances in all competitions so far this season. As a result of his speed and defensive awareness, he remains one of the best right-backs in the world.

It is why he will almost certainly play a key role in the second-leg against Madrid. If recalled to the starting line-up, he will likely to be handed the task of dealing with the threat of Madrid speedster Vinicius Junior.

The fact the Sheffield-born defender was named on the bench against Luton suggests he will be in contention to start the clash with Madrid. It was wise of Guardiola to avoid taking any unnecessary risks ahead of a game of such magnitude.

If he does start, it will strengthen City's case to get the better of the LaLiga heavyweights for the second season running and keep their European dream alive.