Five Things We Learned: Burnley 0-3 Manchester City (Carabao Cup)
Manchester City brushed aside Burnley at Turf Moor thanks to a Raheem Sterling brace and Ferran Torres' first goal for City.
Pep Guardiola's side won comfortably on Wednesday night to progress to the next round of the Carabao Cup, with plenty of big-name stars hitting the pitch to help dispatch the Clarets.
Here's what we learned from the victory on the road...
Pep Plays to Win
Last week I was one of many City fans who were extremely surprised with the strength of our lineup, with several first-team regulars starting despite this being a low-priority competition in the middle of the busiest schedule in football's modern history. Things only got weirder against the Cherries when three more senior starters came on off the bench.
If that was surprising, the selection was even stranger. All but one of the starting XI were first-team players, including a multitude of players who played last weekend and are expected to play again against Leeds later in the week. I think we almost all expected some heavy rotation for Burnley's visit, and instead we got an extremely strong team. I'm not sure how to feel about this.
On one hand, it's worrying that the lack of midweek rest for these players could increase the risk of injury and fatigue. However, it's nice to know that Pep still takes every competition seriously- especially considering that forty miles west is a manager who barely even bothers turning up for cup matches anymore.
Torres Plays a Blinder
It's fair to say that Ferran Torres hasn't been given an easy job since his move to Manchester City in the summer, with the glimpses we've had of the young winger so far not offering much output. In this game he looked like a different player entirely.
You could argue that Torres was the most dangerous player on the pitch against Burnley based on his first half performance alone. The Spaniard was constantly threatening, showing off some tricky dribbling skills and a surprisingly impressive passing ability. In the second half things only got better as he set up Raheem Sterling's second and then scored his first goal from the club with a sharp and instinctive finish. If this is a glimpse of his future here, it went very well indeed.
Palmer's Unlucky Debut
Cole Palmer was a slight surprise in the starting lineup tonight, given that many City fans expected Liam Delap to lead the line after his impressive performance last week. Nonetheless, we were all excited to see how the talented teenager would perform surrounded by senior stars.
I thought it was a case of very nearly a perfect night for Cole. He was lively, involved in the game and displayed obvious ability almost every time he got the ball. I just think he got unlucky at times, and sometimes the last ball just didn't quite come off for him, or the goalkeeper got down to make a great save. If he keeps playing like that it won't be long before he starts grabbing goals or assists.
Mendy Plays for his Place
It was abundantly clear tonight that Benjamin Mendy is well aware of the speculation surrounding City's potential search for a new left-back. For one thing, this was one of his best attacking performances in a very long time.
Remember the early days, when Mendy used to bomb forward constantly and deliver deadly first-time crosses into area several times a match? Injuries robbed him of that power somewhat, along with most of the explosive pace that made him such a threat to begin with. Today's perfect assist for Raheem Sterling didn't magically make everything better; he hasn't reverted to that promising big-money player we signed in 2017. But it was an exciting reminder that the talent is still there.
Fourpeat on the Cards?
Okay, so it's probably fair to say that the Carabao Cup is not exactly a priority for City- nor for any side, particularly in a season where injuries promise to ravage a huge number of squads. But Pep seems to be taking it seriously yet again this year, as mentioned above.
That begs an important question: can City go all the way again? If they lift the trophy, they will go level with Liverpool as the joint most frequent all-time winners of this competition, and Chelsea are amongst the teams that are already out. Knowing the attitude that Liverpool generally take towards the EFL Cup, too, there's a good chance that they could be heading out in the early rounds once again. Here's hoping for another successful tournament...
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