The camera panned to Sergio Agüero, poked at his ribs and asked ‘what do you think of that, mate?’ The striker wore a glazed expression. He’d just watched 19-year-old Gabriel Jesus finish off a hypnotising move and for a moment he became a forgotten man.
Pep Guardiola insisted in his post-match press conference that the club “cannot achieve our goals without his contribution,” but here Manchester City had scored four of them without Agüero on the pitch.
It looks as if Guardiola has found his best attacking trident. There were glimpses of Messi, Neymar and Suárez in the way that Sané, Sterling and Jesus impaled West Ham’s helpless defence in this 4-0 thrashing. City’s forward line galloped along the London Stadium turf like competitors in an Olmypic 100m final, rendering the definition of ‘threesome’ even more exciting than it was before. Even with a mind as advanced as his, Kevin De Bruyne conceded that “it’s almost impossible for us to follow them”.
What should excite City fans the most is that the average age of the trio is seven years younger than the one considered to be the best in the world at Barcelona. The future certainly looks bright for us.
For Agüero there is a battle ahead. For sections of the media it may be tempting to debate the 28-year-old’s future at the club for the sake of debate but to write off the guy likely to eclipse Eric Brook as our all-time top goalscorer would be daft. Footballers are inherently competitive beings, especially elite ones like Agüero. For the first time in his City career the Argentine is no longer guaranteed a starting place and I hope this competition will coax the best out of him.
For now, though, there’s no reason to tinker. We’ve scored nine goals in our last three games, conceding just two. Tottenham exposed the flaws in our back line but there’s been a noticeable improvement in our play recently and we’re finally taking our chances. Much of that progress can be attributed to the form our of wingers.
Metroflex gym owner Brian Dobson once said of 8x Mr.Olympian champion Ronnie Coleman that he took one look at the veins in his legs and knew he’d be the world’s best bodybuilder. Pay close attention to the height, build and trickery of Leroy Sané and it’s easy to make predictions about the German’s future. The son of a footballer and a gymnast, Sané has an enviable genetic cocktail that should see him develop into a muscular speed demon in the mould of a Gareth Bale over an Arjen Robben. This type of player excels in the Premier League where wingers need to be juggernauts as well as silky tricksters. There was a moment in the game where Winston Reid clattered into him with the type of challenge that may intimidate a young player new to the English game but Sané just got up and carried on. Right now I’d say he’s the best player to watch in our team.
As for Sterling his tactical awareness is so impressive. He too, although much smaller than Sané, is a fighter. He seems to be involved in absolutely everything nowadays and his decision making in the final third, though still in need of some adjustments, has improved dramatically. In this game he bagged two assists because of his quick thinking in the penalty area.
Scurrying in between those two was Jesus. The Brazilian chases the ball like a dog with a frisbee, competitive for everything. There’s a toughness to the Brazilian acquired from the favelas of São Paulo where he grew up and his persistence in this match made him look like the N’Golo Kante of the final third. The 19-year-old claimed his second assist in as many games when he layed De Bruyne off to curl in the opener.
Having conceded five goals against City just three weeks earlier the West Ham fanbase buckled themselves for another drubbing. The impressive London Stadium was built to cement West Ham’s status as a key player in the division and to create a feel-good vibe around the club but so far it seems to have had the opposite effect. The buzzing atmosphere fans were able to create at the Boleyn ground seems to have completely disappeared, perhaps into the vast space between the pitch and the seats. It’s a lonely place to be when you’re behind. And as Sané poked through the legs of Sam Byram and switched to Silva who made it two, seats began to empty. It was an unbelievably fun bit of wing play from the 21-year-old that had City fans purring.
Slaven Bilić’s team had rallied in the absence of Dimitri Payet winning their last two league games comprehensively but looked bad enough to ship more goals than they did in that cup clash at the beginning of January. On a pitch this size they looked clueless, unable to close gaps, and five minutes before the break they were carved open again. Sterling could have been forgiven for accepting Sané’s through pass and smashing at goal himself, but instead squared to Jesus. The Brazilian made no mistake.
Yaya Touré’s 69th minute penalty following some excellent work from Raheem capped off one of the most dominant displays you’ll see all season. It’s Chelsea’s title to lose but Antonio Conte, present at the London Stadium for this game, may be wary that things are beginning to click at City.