Five Things We Learned - Sheffield United 0-1 Manchester City (PL)

Manchester City repeated last season's result at Bramall Lane and earned the three points to move up to seventh in the Premier League table, we look at what we learned from the victory.
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In a repeat of last season's encounter at Bramall Lane, Manchester City emerged the victors courtesy of a single goal and a clean sheet. 

Last time, however, there would have been no prizes for guessing the goalscorer - Sergio Aguero. Today, it would have taken a braver man than me to predict Kyle Walker would net only the fourth goal of his Manchester City career. 

It was a much needed goal too, as City desperately need to build some momentum in the league if we are to stake our claim to finish as champions next year. 

Here's what we learned from the victory today...

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More fuel for the Kyle Walker fanfare 

Pep Guardiola, in the build-up to today's game, lauded Kyle Walker for his consistency and contributions to the club since he arrived from Tottenham in 2017. Pep believes that Walker is in the finest form of his time in Manchester. Well, today certainly bolstered the manager's view.

It was a sweet, powerful low-drive that managed to beat Aaron Ramsdale in the Sheffield United goal from Walker that proved the difference today. However, aside from the goal, the right-back helped to make sure the opponents had little joy on their forays forward.

No other player had more touches on the ball than Walker today, which reflected his energy and offerings at both ends of the pitch. His pace and nous is invaluable to City's defence, and here's hoping this form continues. 

Joao Cancelo is our best left-back

Well, Cancelo is predominantly a right-back, although he was also utilised on the left at his previous side, Juventus. Yet, despite his lesser familiarity with the role, he is proving himself to be City's best option for the position; one that has plagued the team for decades.

In the first-half, he created five chances according to the stats. He's a real problem for the opposition when he gets on the ball and it's no surprise that at other clubs he has been used as a winger. 

We need to be honest that all of our options, be it Mendy, Zinchenko or Cancelo, are not reliable defensively. The latter, though, is undoubtedly the most useful getting forward. He really adds a different dimension to our attacks. On that basis, the Portugal international deserves to continue there for the foreseeable future. 

Ferran - heir to Aguero's throne?

Obviously, Ferran Torres is not likely to become a world-class striker. That said, he was quietly impressive in the role today. His movement off the ball was fantastic and constantly kept the Sheffield United defence on their toes. 

There was one great run in particular across the six yard box from a Raheem Sterling cross which displayed a real striker's instinct to drift behind an opposition's defence at the perfect moment. 

Had our passing been a bit better, Torres could have possibly got himself on the scoresheet, as numerous runs in behind went unrewarded. His height is also a welcome bonus, as while he is hardly going to become an imposing aerial presence, at least with a good cross he stands a decent chance of getting to it. 

If Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus remain out, I reckon Torres may well be our best emergency option for the central position up top. 

Sterling still shines

I've long felt that Raheem Sterling's overall ability is underappreciated in the football world, and that includes the City fanbase. 

Pep Guardiola has had strong options for the wide roles, with the likes of Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Sterling to choose from in his time here. However, it is Sterling who has consistently been the Catalan's undroppable option. 

The record books will show that Kyle Walker scored the winning goal and Kevin de Bruyne set it up, but the real credit for the decisive moment lies with Sterling. He left two Sheffield defenders reeling with some silky footwork before powering forward and bringing de Bruyne into play. 

Sterling confirmed once again that he brings much more to the side than just being in the right place at the right time.

No Kompany, no problem?

When Ruben Dias signed for Manchester City, there was faith in the club's choice but it would probably be fair to say many were a little cautious, if not underwhelmed, with the Benfica defender's arrival.

After anticipating the arrival of the more established Kalidou Koulibaly, there was concern that Dias would not have the instant impact that the Napoli star likely could have. 

However, Dias is proving his worth so far. For the first time since Kompany left, City have a real leader at the heart of the defence. In a game where Sheffield did not test us too much, it was still clear to see how often Dias was there to deal with the danger. 

There were no moments for the highlight reel, just a competent footballer doing the basics of defending with minimal fuss - it's something our backline has sorely needed. 

It's early days, but the Dias-Laporte duo has the potential to be a truly world class partnership. 

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