Manchester City went nap at the weekend to pull level with their neighbours at the top of the English Premier League. It was a high scoring, myth busting performance by Pep Guardiola’s men. It may just have lit the blue touchpaper on the Citizens season.
It would be easy to get over excited by a high scoring win. It should be remembered that Liverpool played over half the match with ten men. Man City won this game, however, with without ever needing to hit top gear. Sergio Aguero’s now customary goal against the Anfield side had City ahead and looking comfortable before Sadio Mane’s 37th-minute red card. After Gabriel Jesus doubled the home sides lead in first half stoppage time the second period was a mere formality.
The Blues chalked up three more goals in the second half. Substitute Leroy Sane’s spectacular curling effort was the icing on the cake against an opponent which City have struggled with in recent times. The Mane red card, for his challenge on City keeper Ederson, may have stolen the headlines. There were a few sub-plots here though, which shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Sergio Aguero returned to the City starting lineup after beginning their last outing at Bournemouth on the subs bench. The pairing of the Argentinian and Gabriel Jesus is a much talked about one. Since the Brazil international joined up in January there has been much speculation about Aguero’s position in the side. Many felt Jesus would replace City’s top Premier League marksman. Some speculated that they couldn’t play in the same side. Some even going as far as to suggest that one, or both, didn’t want to play with the other. There is a simple statistic which puts paid to those opinions though. In the six fixtures which the South American tandem have started together, both have five goals to their name. In addition, they also have five assists between them. Can’t/won’t play together? Myth, well and truly, busted.
There is another piece of Manchester City based mythology which may be true. ‘City can’t defend without Vincent Kompany’. This hasn’t been busted yet, despite the clean sheet. Kompanys assuredness and leadership is extremely important to them. Nicolas Otamendi still doesn’t inspire confidence whilst John Stones hasn’t quite improved defensively as City would have hoped. However, the introduction of fullbacks Mendy, Walker and Danilo have certainly added strength to Pep Guardiola’s defensive options. Mendy, in particular, looked very impressive on his home debut, most his good work though, coming in an attacking sense.
Sat on the bench for the game was German international Ilkay Gundogan. His return from long term injury may well be the thing to shore up Citys shaky defence. Gundogan isn’t an out-and-out defensive midfielder. His return to the team will though, provide a welcome layer of protection in front of the City rearguard. Another plus point on this 5-star day in Manchester.
More to Come
Despite a few shaky moments defensively and having an extra man for almost an hour, there’s a feeling that this was an important win. Any five-nil demolition of a fellow title contender must be considered as impressive. That’s without hitting top gear and without Gundogan, Kompany and Sterling. City will hope to carry the good form into their Champions League campaign which kicks off midweek. You can only imagine how good this team will be if and when they hit top gear. The creativity of Silva, De Bruyne and Bernardo is a delight to watch making City’s attacking prowess beyond doubt. If the defence can take confidence from this clean sheet and tighten up, City would finally be able to marry results with their undoubted potential. This result may just be the springboard to a special season at the Etihad.