A resounding 4-0 win against Brighton and Hove Albion leads us into the first international break of the campaign. A brace from Sergio Aguero put the game to bed after a brilliant Kevin De Bruyne goal after only 68 seconds, before Bernardo Silva scored the fourth shortly after coming on from the bench.
A grey cloud hovers over any celebrations at the Etihad Stadium however, with Aymeric Laporte being forced off in the first half with an apparent knee injury. We will have to wait and see what the extent of the injury is and what that will mean, so for now, here’s five things we learned from today’s victory.
KDB – What more is there to say…
It is rather easy to forget after how well City played last season in the league that the probably-should-have-been Player of the Season Kevin De Bruyne had an extremely minimal part to play. And this season we have seen time and time again just how big of a boost he is proving to be to the side.
Another goal today for the Belgian, but it’s his overall game that truly makes the difference for City. His workhorse mentality and the eye for the passes that no one else thinks to make – that’s what De Bruyne is all about. Stay healthy and City should be shooting for the stars in terms of achievements this campaign.
Rodri Making a Statement
Pep Guardiola has wasted no time in integrating his new number six into the starting 11. Three starts to begin the season, but the Spaniard was dropped to the bench for last week’s trip to Bournemouth, with the more attacking-minded Gundogan preferred in the holding role. What transpired, especially in the second half, can only truly be described as almost a basketball game. Gundogan simply could not take control of the game. Enter Rodri, who immediately dominated the midfield and restored City’s dominance in a game that was looking to go either way for a bit.
Today was simply a continuation on that. The new arrival was a strong presence in the middle of the pitch, consistently breaking up play and continuing to prove how astute of a signing he is.
Fernandinho’s New Role
An unfortunate circumstance has given Fernandinho his first run out of the season in what will most likely turn out to be his new position. If Aymeric Laporte is forced into an extended layoff due to his knee injury today, Fernandinho will undoubtedly be called on much more than what it would have been before. John Stones has returned to training this week, and that has become that much bigger of a boost.
With that being said, what did we see today? Fernandinho looked assured and confident in the centre-back role, albeit against Brighton. The Brazilian has spent time in defense before, most notably against Arsenal at the Etihad last season where he put in a fantastic performance playing in the back four without the ball and jumping up into midfield with it. His inclusion in the squad more often could see a variation of that being played this season as well. Laporte will be a big miss for any time he is out for, but Fernandinho’s reintroduction into the fold could expand the side’s flexibility exponentially.
Mahrez likes his Starts
Many were shocked at Riyad Mahrez’s inclusion in the opening day eleven against West Ham, at the expense of last season’s player of the season Bernardo Silva. However, Mahrez more than proved his worth, and was integral in each goal City scored on the day. In the previous two matches Bernardo had been restored to the starting side, with the Algerian having to settle for cameos at the end of the matches. Specifically against Tottenham, Mahrez struggled upon being introduced, and lost possession a couple times in key areas as City were chasing the winner.
Today he was brought back in from the get-go and put in another great performance, even without a goal or assist to his name. It has started to beg the question, why are we seeing two different Mahrez’s, dependent on if he starts or if he is subbed on? This will certainly be on Pep Guardiola’s mind as we enter the international break. The winger will definitely play a bigger role than he did last season, but if Pep can solve the puzzle and have this Mahrez consistently coming on in cameos, it represents another new dimension for matches in which City need that little extra at the end of the game.
Like a Fine Wine
Pep’s comment after the match is all you really need to sum up Sergio Aguero at the moment: “He will die scoring goals.” And at this rate, can anyone really argue. Today’s brace brings the Argentine up to five goals this campaign, level with Raheem Sterling and Teemu Pukki on top of the scoring charts. Aguero continues to show why he will he looked at as the best foreign striker to play in the Premier League once he calls time on his career.
Two goals and an assist will draw the headlines but his constant work rate throughout the match and desire to help his team will be what Pep Guardiola will love. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Gabriel Jesus would push Aguero out of the side upon his arrival, but the club’s all-time top goal scorer has proved that currently, such a feat is not even remotely possible.
And of course, we can’t forget David Silva. We might be in the last season of an already phenomenal career at City, but he is certainly not content with just resting on his laurels. The minutes totals will have to be watched, as we saw last season where his productivity levels slowed down towards the end, but Silva has shown why Pep Guardiola finds it almost impossible to drop him to start this season.
Merlin is the best in the world at finding little pockets of space between the midfield and defence where no one is able to pick him up. It’s here where he does his damage, constantly allowing himself to receive and quickly distribute the ball to teammates on the run. The left sided trio of Silva, Raheem Sterling, and Oleksandr Zinchenko have already shown a great understanding between them and this should only continue as the season goes on.
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