Five Things We Learned: Manchester City 5-0 Norwich City (Premier League)
In David Silva's final league appearance for Manchester City, the side ran out comfortable 5-0 winners over an already relegated Norwich side. The day marked the end of an era, as one of City's greatest ever players moves onto new pastures following ten years of service.
Here's five things we learned from the terrific display at the Etihad...
An appreciation for the City legend that is David Silva. After 10 years of service, the Spaniard played his final league game for the Blues in what proved a largely straightforward victory over Norwich. From scoring against Red Bull Salzburg in the Europa League, to his full stretch volley against West Ham, David Silva has been a constant fixture in this era of City dominance.
While the side has evolved so much since his arrival back in 2010, El Mago has been a fixed point of quality, calmness and brilliance. Always playing the right pass, at the right time, with the right weight, David has set the benchmark for players like Foden to live up to. We know we have at least one more opportunity to see David Silva in the sky blue of City in a fortnights time, but let’s hope there will be a few more after that. An exceptional player and servant for the club. One of our greatest ever players should and will be honoured with a statue outside the ground.
Record Breaking City
In what many City fans would call a frustrating and underwhelming campaign, Guardiola’s side have: scored 102 goals in the league, De Bruyne equalling the assist record (20) that has stood for 17 years, Sterling becoming the first Englishman to score 20 league goals for the club, Ederson winning the Golden Glove & winning the Carabao Cup back in February. Not too bad all in all.
Of course, the season has been peppered with off colour performances that left them adrift from top spot. Nevertheless, this side has demonstrated more often than not an abundance of excellence as the records attest to and may be corrected further with the return of Champions League football just on the horizon.
Cancelo at Left Back
Now, I should preface this section by stating my admiration for Benjamin Mendy and that he should be given one more year at the club to prove his quality. That being said, the full back does have issues that are well documented by many a City fan. In recent games, with the Frenchman’s suspension for the Madrid second leg, Guardiola has turned for another short-term solution at the left back spot. A recurring theme for the Catalan’s tenure at City.
Joao Cancelo has been given a trial run in the the past two games against Watford and Norwich and he has not disappointed. After an incredibly sub-par first season at the club, Guardiola spoke glowingly of the full back after the Watford affair, calling him a ‘completely different individual’ and ‘the best player in training.’ While this might be the usual pontificating from Pep, his performances over the past week have been extremely promising.
His dynamism and close quarter foot work in the opposition half proving to be a massive asset in the build up play for City. Eden Hazard and Vinicus Jr await, which will prove a much tougher task for the Portuguese full back, but so far, he has had a small renaissance on the left flank.
Fernandinho to start against Madrid
Eric Garcia has performed excellently since the restart showing all the hallmarks of a top central defender for years to come. Yet, his half time removal did have me wondering whether he may be rested for that game in line for Fernandinho to take over in such a crucial fixture.
While it could be seen as harsh given the youngster’s displays of late, it does make sense to leave nothing to the imagination against Madrid. Fernandinho has been slowly phased out since the restart after performing brilliantly throughout the season in the heart of defence. But with Benzema and Madrid just around the corner, his assuredness, savvy tackling & relative pace could work well in nullifying Madrid’s counter attacking threat.
Fluidity and on the Front Foot
Norwich were by no means a significant threat. With a few glimpses on the break, their naivety was greatly highlighted with City’s exactness in every part of the pitch. The classic blend of tepid defending and thrilling attacking, City constantly tore open Norwich with a fluid attacking core. Foden would drift inside with Jesus moving out wide left, Sterling up front and De Bruyne on the right touchline, City were a nightmare in every which way going forward.
Something we’d hoped to have seen in the semi-final a week ago, David Silva and co have returned with the fluid front play we have come to expect and enjoy in the past few seasons. Probably deserving to score more than the five goals, City attacked Norwich’s defence relentlessly with ten shots on goal and 24 overall. The wonderful mixture of frenetic and composed play is something that can dismantle any defence on the planet. If City are to right the wrongs of this season, that combination will need to be full force come the 7th.
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