Manchester City bounced back from their annual defeat at Anfield with a 2-1 victory over Burnley. But it was anything but straight forward. Fernandinho’s red card in the first half made things difficult for City but some inspired substitutes claimed the victory. Here’s what Anis learned from today’s win over Burnley.
Manchester City show resolve and spirit
Fernandinho’s foul had to be among the stupidest of the six red cards Manchester City have already received this season. Of the six suspensions (seven if you include Aguero’s elbow ban), three of them have been awarded to Fernandinho alone. The Brazilian has long been a reliable character at City but has shown an increasingly reckless side to his game this season. His lunge at Gudmundsson was wild and desperate, and at such an early stage of the game, could have cost City all three points. But instead of crumbling, City showed resolve and spirit to claw back and claim all three points.
Yaya Toure shifted into the deepest midfield position and held the fort brilliantly in a man of the match display. Like everyone else, the Ivorian struggled at Anfield but showcased his ability on the ball against Burnley. At half-time, Pep brought on two of his best players, Sergio Aguero and David Silva and subbed off City’s two worst performers Kelechi Iheanacho and Jesus Navas. It was an inspired move and City looked dominant and aggressive as they have done in many second halves this season. Why Pep can’t get them to do the same in the first half is a question I’m sure is worth a million bucks.
Pep has to appreciate Aguero
This might sound obvious to say but Guardiola has to realise that Aguero is still the man to do the business at City. A lot has been made of their relationship this season and some poor performances in several high-profile games this season has seen Aguero’s future placed under increasing scrutiny. Most recently, after Liverpool, a few City fans themselves started to turn on Aguero online.
But on the week Gabriel Jesus is set to fly into Manchester, Aguero proved once more why he is still the top dog around these parts. He reinvigorated City’s attack on his introduction and inspired City to score the goals to win the game. His goal from a ludicrously tight angle was a delightful finish and sucker punched any hopes of a proper Burnley comeback.
Aguero, if you believe Frank Lampard, is tough to deal with off the pitch but Pep has to realise that a fit and motivated Sergio is better than any striker in the league. And if Pep wants to win anything this season, then he has to unlock that player on a regular basis.
Pep needs a big second half of the season
It would be wrong to state that the fans have turned on Pep Guardiola. A lot still hold him in high regard and although City linger in 5th place, they are only two points behind title challengers Liverpool. But public opinion of Pep is waning. Guardiola doesn’t seem as invincible as he once was when he flogged Joe Hart and threatened to do the same with Yaya Toure. Those actions were vindicated by City’s early season form but after a third defeat in December, all the pressure is now on Guardiola to prove he is still making the right decisions.