Manchester City secured their biggest league win under Guardiola with a 5-0 dispatching of Crystal Palace. City now sit in third and a relatively smooth run means they could hold that spot until the end of the season.
Anis looks back on the win and draws some conclusions.
The Others contribute
“We missed goals from our attacking midfielders,” said Pep Guardiola, again lamenting the lack of goals contributed by the men behind the striker. Not entirely satisfied, he pointed out that this win was really nothing more than an anomaly and that while “today we scored goals, the other days we were not able.”
Guardiola is clearly hurt by what he feels is a lack of a killer instinct from a bunch of supremely talented individuals who can’t seem to regularly score. Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and both center-backs supplied the goals today yet all have less goals combined than Sergio Aguero this season. De Bruyne and Silva in particular – both of whom are the heartbeat of this side – haven’t produced enough this season but managed to have a decisive impact against Crystal Palace today.
While Leroy Sané only really got going in January, Raheem Sterling is another guilty of not getting enough shots on target, particularly for someone who spends more time in the box than any other player in the league. If Pep wants to be successful next season, then he’s going to have to figure out how to get more from his attacking midfielders and lessen the burden on whoever’s up front.
On his fifth consecutive start for Manchester City, Kompany delivered arguably the most popular goal in recent memory. Like a true striker, he instinctively found space behind the back four, begging for something to be delivered his way. Kevin De Bruyne duly obliged and Kompany hammered in a piledriver of a finish to seal the game for City.
Kompany’s rebirth from the ashes of pulled hamstrings and torn thighs has been a godsend for Pep Guardiola. While Stones remains mysteriously out, Vinnie has solidified the defence and somehow tamed Otamendi’s wild side.
City were expected to be in the market for a new center-back this summer but Kompany’s return to life I imagine has blurred things a little. Is it even still possible to send him packing after proving his fitness and form? Would another center-back stifle John Stones’ development? It appears Kompany’s return has asked more questions than they have answered.
Pep’s blueprint in full show
City’s 5-0 victory over Palace was one of the stand-out performances of the season, particularly at home where goals have been hard to come by. It’s no surprise that nearly every single team will come here and sit deep but it is a surprise that Pep has still not found a consistent solution to deep-blocks.
Today however was a showing of how it can be done. Palace were in hot form and they would’ve been reasonably satisfied to go up into half-time only one nil down. But City were not going to let this turn into one of those home games and upped the pressure in the second half. Yaya took the game by the scruff of its neck and Sterling and Sane each played well together for the first time in a while.
But perhaps most importantly, Gabriel Jesus played his false nine role to perfection; making smart runs, dropping deep to lay off his team-mates and generally occupying space Palace’s two makeshift center-backs, Kelly and Schlupp, couldn’t foresee. In turn, Kevin De Bruyne stole the show with a wonderful strike and two even better assists.