Match Coverage

West Brom 0-4 Manchester City: What We Learned

Aguero snaps City’s winless streak

I’ll have to admit. I was beginning to get a little worried about our lengthy run of games without a win. The first mention of it – after our draw with Everton – didn’t bother me too much especially in context of the different competitions we had played in, however three quickly became six and before you knew it Guardiola had embarked on the worst run of games in his decorated managerial career. Pep in effect had sacrificed the derby earlier this week in an effort to get his League and European campaigns back on the trails. Today could be the first of a few games that would vindicate that decision.

Manchester City were quickly out of the blocks against West Brom, renewing the energy and pressing that was such a feature of their early season success. Aguero opened the scoring from a delightful Gundogan through-ball before burying a vicious shot from outside of the box for his second. West Brom threatened after the second half but City rallied with two clean close range strikes from Ilkay Gundogan to seal the deal.

Guardiola deployed Fernando at right-back, suggesting that last game’s man of the match Pablo Maffeo was perhaps not ready to face a physical West Brom side. The Brazilian did well enough and proved that – for the time being – a back four was a far better suit for this team than the back three Pep had been experimenting with in recent weeks. This shape and system triggered an impressive defensive performance which produced Manchester City’s first clean sheet since September 17th, a league match against Bournemouth, ten games ago. City’s defensive fragility had been a cause for concern all season so today will be a huge boost before the big face off against Barcelona next week.

Sergio Aguero is back, baby

It’s been a peculiar couple of weeks for Sergio Aguero. His Argentina woes were followed by a snubbing from Pep Guardiola when he was placed on the bench for the matches against Everton and Barcelona. Soon after, he was bombarded by media reports that suggested issues ranging from a conflict existing between Guardiola and Sergio Aguero to even Aguero being set to be the next star ejected by Guardiola.

Those brash suggestions had followed Aguero’s patchy form in-front of goal and the Argentinian hadn’t scored in five weeks before City faced West Brom today. So for him to score two and assist another would’ve helped settle a few nerves and please Pep Guardiola. Even more so though was Aguero’s desire to press, run the channels and offer everything that Guardiola asks of his center-forwards. Aguero spearheaded City’s attack wonderfully and for all his denouncers this season, he now has 13 goals in 14 games in all competitions this season, a handsome record to keeps him on course for another great goal-scoring season.

Ilkay Gundogan’s rebirth

Ilkay Gundogan hasn’t enjoyed the greatest of starts at Manchester City following his £20m move from Borussia Dortmund this summer. His arrival was billed as the best signing of the summer by many and his long injury-induced absence only built towards the hype. So far, he has showed only glimpses of what he’s capable of.

His dislocated knee kept him out for five months and precipitated his spawn of poor form. But anyone who knows Gundogan will know that he has a long history of taking a little while to pick himself up after an injury. Gundogan has struggled in certain games this season and failed to really impose himself across a whole 90 minutes so today would’ve been a lease of fresh life for the German. He controlled proceedings as City enjoyed plenty of possession but he also relished breaking forward at every presentable opportunity. He slipped Aguero in for his first and burst through late to convert De Bruyne’s cross for his second goal. Everything about his performance was vintage Gundogan and the signs he is finally finding his feet are there for all to see. A fit and on form Ilkay Gundogan is one of the best midfielders in the world and if City can help him reach that level then he can push this side to another level.

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