Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side made a statement on Tuesday night when they cruised to a comfortable 5-0 victory away from home against West Brom.
The game started tantalisingly fast with both sides trying to make a dent in each other’s defence, however it was City who broke the deadlock early on, when Gundogan neatly controlled Cancelo’s delivery and fired it past Sam Johnstone from outside of the area. The lead was doubled some fifteen minutes later, after a controversial offside call was overruled by VAR and Cancelo bagged his first Premier League goal.
Gundogan proved yet again that he is the man-in-form when he snatched his second of the game with a clean finish into the bottom corner, and just before the half time break Mahrez’ executed his signature left foot cut in and further compounded West Brom’s misery. Sterling tapped home a low cross in the second half to cap off the scoring for the night and leave his side in top spot until United play Sheffield United on Wednesday.
Here are five things we have taken following the performance...
Top of our game
What an absolutely mesmerising performance from the City side. Once again, they really showed glimpses of the team they once were back in 2018, and had the game put to bed well before half time – there haven’t been a great deal of opportunities for City fans to go into the break feeling somewhat comfortably recently, so that really was a big boost for the side.
Five goals, yet another clean sheet, eighteen game unbeaten streak, top of the table – Guardiola has undoubtedly turned the team around from the poor form in the earlier stages of the season. The West Brom players had to endure a mauling last night, as City kept the ball for nearly 80% of the game and strung nearly 900 passes together. Also, may I add all of this was without Kevin de Bruyne, and several other notable first team players – a truly remarkable performance.
There aren’t many games I can remember when you could’ve given man of the match to a player who was substituted just 50 minutes in. With Kevin de Bruyne absent through injury, Guardiola surely asked his midfielders to step up and fill his boots. That is exactly what Ilkay Gundogan did when he walked onto the Hawthorns field.
Two brilliant first half goals proved that Ilkay is growing into an even more pivotal player in the side. He is showing that he has the ability to find and complete key passes in the final third, yet also finish chances when he has the ball at his feet. There can’t be much else that Pep wants from him whilst his Belgian counterpart is recovering, so let’s hope we see more solid performances over the next month. Well played, Ilkay.
Do we really need a striker after all?
One of the focal points of these five things learned articles recently has been the need and desire to acquire a new striker for the City side to put away chances that get created, now I’m thinking, is that really necessary after last night’s performance?
Five well-taken goals from four different scorers, and none of them had any involvement from a natural striker on the field, proves that although the long-term goal must be to bring in a new striker, maybe City can actually make do with what they have at the moment? Gundogan has been ever impressive in midfield, Mahrez can still cut in and shoot, Cancelo is pushing higher, Foden is flying high – every player is managing to step up to the plate whilst Sergio recovers.
World Class Cancelo
Another stand-out performance on the night and my man of the match goes to none other than Joao Cancelo. A great goal, and a brilliant assist for Gundogan’s first, shows that Joao is really growing into the signing we hoped for when he got the title of ‘the most expensive right-back ever.’
A big attribution to his current form undoubtedly goes to Stones and Dias too, as the solid defence is giving Joao the confidence to push higher into the midfield and search for more time on the ball, allowing him to be the starting point of attacks and fast-flowing football. His first Premier League goal was going to come sooner or later, and he definitely deserved it following last nights performance.
Pictures of Pep smiling away on the touchline are very rare to see with a perfectionist like himself, so I think it is clear to every viewer that Guardiola had no issues with last nights performance from his side.
Some fans were left questioning City’s business when they offered Pep a new contract following a poor stint of results in the early stages of the season, but these worries have very quickly rescinded given the recent turn of the tide.
Pep has put trust into his defence, allowing them to improve and excel and giving the side the best defensive record so far in the league. The lack of a striker has proved difficult, but the Spaniard has clearly demanded a reaction from his midfielders which has come with open arms. It’s not a bad time to be in that City camp at the moment.
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