Manchester City secured three crucial points away at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday to stay within two points of local and title rivals Manchester United courtesy of a late Raheem Sterling winner. However, City’s win was less than comfortable. Because of this, many questions have been raised as to whether City were lucky to win on the South Coast and if questions still need to be asked. Or if this victory is an important step in the right direction for Pep Guardiola’s men.
A lucky win?
On one hand, it can absolutely be argued that City were lucky to claim all three points or rather, that Bournemouth were extremely unlucky not to come away with at least a draw. Guardiola, following City’s frustrating 1-1 draw with Everton last week, changed the formation, dropping Argentine talisman Sergio Aguero and bringing in Monday’s late hero Raheem Sterling into the lineup. However, the change in formation didn’t change how prolific City were in front of goal. A continuing theme from Manchester City over the past few seasons is how much they’ve struggled to break teams down and score goals and this was ever apparent on Saturday. Despite a wealth of attacking talent, City spurned several chances to put the game to bed.
In addition to this, it can be argued that Bournemouth were unlucky not to come away with a point. Whilst that’s technically irrelevant to the outcome of the match, credit has to be given to Eddie Howe for his approach to the match. In the past two seasons, Bournemouth have played City in an arguably naive fashion and have come away with their tails between their legs. This season, however, they set up very differently. They were solid and sought to frustrate City and this nearly earned them a more than respectable draw.
A mark of Champions?
On the other hand, however, it can be argued that this result was very promising for City. In recent years, City have really struggled against sides that have used Catenuccio tactics and this has been a significant factor why City have failed to win back the Premier League title. However, this game, along with the other two league games of the season, have shown this City side to be a lot more resilient and patient, as well as not letting defensive sides frustrate them successfully. We’ll never know for sure, but it would not surprise me if City would’ve come out of these three games with one point rather than seven had these games been played last season or the season before. If Pep Guardiola can instill the same ruthless play, along with never say die attitude that made Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United one of the greatest football teams of all time, then City fans have a lot to look forward to.
In addition to this, there is the argument that this game is the mark of champions. Whilst Manchester United have so far taken this season by storm with their exciting attacking football, with Romelu Lukaku looking like the striker they were screaming out for last season, it can also be argued that they haven’t really been challenged as of yet, especially with West Ham and Swansea looking especially poor. The same, however, can’t be said of Manchester City, who have faced three sides intent on frustrating them and denying them the chance to play their style of football. Yet City have still come out with two wins out of three. With both wins being secured thanks to late goals. This shows that Guardiola’s side possesses the aforementioned never say die attitude.
Overall, I believe that this game can be looked at from both perspectives. I do believe that the side lacked the killer instinct in front of goal, which will be vital when playing sides that won’t allow them as many chances. City have struggled against the bigger sides in the Premier League in recent years. Therefore they will need to be much more clinical to improve on that poor record this season. However, the team can no doubt take heed from the fact that they’ve been too easy and predictable to play against for certain sides for a long period and yet, this season, they’ve been able to turn the sort of games they’ve drawn in the past into wins. So overall, whilst improvement is no doubt needed, City can definitely look to the future with a great deal of promise.
What side are you on Manchester City fans, does this win bode well for the future? Let us know in the comments below!