Manchester City’s comfortable win against relegation-battling strugglers may not have been the most entertaining match of the year™, but in every game there are lessons to be taken away. With that in mind, here’s a (very) brief look at what we learned from the latest instalment in a tense title race…
Foden Lives Up to the Hype
It feels like we’ve been waiting two years for Phil Foden’s first Premier League start and, although Guardiola has his reasons for waiting, it felt long overdue when his name appeared on the teamsheet tonight. This landmark for the Stockport Iniesta went very well indeed. Foden almost never gave the ball away, worked like a true Guardiola midfielder and had some fantastic efforts at goal, including one moment where he hit the post in the second half.
The exciting thing for City and England fans is that I can’t see Foden’s stock(port) going anywhere but up after this showing. His improvement has been clear and visible since that first team debut against Feyenoord less than a year and a half ago, and it doesn’t feel like he’s even close to peaking yet. We have a club legend on our hands.
Jesus and the Cross
Look, we all know how good Gabriel Jesus can be. How good he will be. But tonight was just one of those nights for the young Brazilian, and his 22nd birthday didn’t bring the goals he was hoping for.
That’s not to say he didn’t get any presents. De Bruyne alone giftwrapped a trio of chances for the striker who somehow missed all three, leaving him cutting a frustrated figure. Early on, especially, came a fantastic fizzing cross that the forward simply had to convert. Hopefully he can pick himself up in time for the Brighton game this weekend, where we’ll need a clinical edge.
Keeping it Clean
For all the talk about Liverpool’s incredible defence, City are now just one clean sheet and two goals worse off than Klopp’s men. This is largely down to a fantastic run of solid form after the loss to Newcastle in January, meaning City have more league shutouts this calendar year than anyone else. With this upturn in goal difference, aided by Nicolas Otamendi’s return to regular football (I know!), we can feel that little bit more confident going into the business end of the season. Keeping Juventus and Barcelona out may be a different prospect, though…
A Full-back Crisis?
Zinchenko injured. Danilo and Walker suffering scares. Delph out of favour. Mendy… well, who knows what Mendy is up to these days? It’s a scary time to be a full-back at Manchester City.
After the game, Pep Guardiola stressed that Oleks Zinchenko will be out for ‘a while’, which is a blow given his recent form. The Ukranian had fought tooth and nail to force his way into City’s team but this injury threatens to end his season early. Meanwhile, recurring issues for Benjamin Mendy and Fabian Delph may leave Kyle Walker and Danilo as our only fit options on each side- and surely they can’t play all of the big games we have coming up? On the plus side, we do have Pep Guardiola in charge, so he might just stick a midfielder there and turn him into the next Kimmich…
Sané Waiting in the Wings
In recent months, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva have basically established themselves as City’s go-to pairing on either side of the striker. But Leroy Sané, a world-class talent in his own right, isn’t about to be demoted to the bench that easily. Today he reminded us of his capabilities with a superb low drive into the far corner- a goal Aguero would have been proud of- that secured the win for the home side.
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