Manchester City made it seven wins out of their last ten with a comfortable victory over Bournemouth. In the process, City might have just reopened what looked a title dead set on returning to Stamford Bridge. Here’s what Anis learned from today’s 2-0 win.
A resolute and aggressive performance
We’ve seen many times this season the lethal brutality of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. This side can cut open even the most stubborn defences and wreak havoc on the unfortunate softer ones. Yet City have struggled for the consistency of champions and their flaws have been laid bare for teams to exploit at the times this season. Only now, for the first time, City’s attacking edge has been coupled with a resolute and sturdy defence. City’s attack is finally working in tangent with their defence and there is conclusive evidence that Pep Guardiola’s blueprint is beginning to stick. Professional performances like today’s are becoming the norm and the horror shows of Leicester and Everton now seem a distant memory.
Willy Caballero has provided a comforting, safe pair of hands in goal, City’s play continues to flow through David Silva like blood through veins and the duet of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané have condemned Nolito and Jesus Navas to the abyss. The players are finally beginning to understand their roles in a Pep Guardiola side.
This doesn’t feel like a watershed moment – no game this season particularly feels so – but rather a confirmation of the successful and gradual rebuilding process Pep Guardiola has strived for.
Another clean sheet
It was another superb performance at the back for Manchester City today and it is no coincidence this has coincided with Willy Caballero’s reinstatement. The clean sheets that were so hard to come by under Claudio Bravo are now being handed out like sweets at a children’s birthday party. In Willy’s last five games City have recorded four clean sheets and conceded only one goal. But more importantly, Caballero has restored faith and confidence to the same defenders who were all over the shop against Leicester.
The complex systems and formations of 2016 have now appeared to be have been dashed in favour of simple back fours and structures the defenders understand. It’s no secret Guardiola wants to experiment and change more of this City side but something after the Leicester defeat made him realise that it was a season too early for him.
The magnificence of David Silva
There were a few awkward performances at the back end of 2016 for David Silva; one or two insipid games where maybe you thought he still hadn’t put his poor 2015/16 season behind him. You began to doubt – just a little (not too much, this is David Silva) – whether Silva’s magic touch was beginning to abandon him.
So, just like any great, David Silva turned the heat on and reminded everyone why is he is one of the best players in the history of the Premier League. At the ripe age of 31, Silva is still producing performances as well as he ever did and City’s improved form can be attributed to his own upturn in form. His first half was mesmerising and to get a standing ovation from opposition fans only minutes after sending their best player back to the medical room is some feat.
Number one Willy Caballero
The 35-year old Argentinian opened up this week about his difficult start to life at Manchester City and offered Claudio Bravo some words of advice on how he turned it around. This time last year Manchester City fans were pleading with Manuel Pellegrini to start Joe Hart against Liverpool in the League Cup final, such was their distrust in Willy Caballero. A legendary penalty shoot out and one year later and Willy has become the stalwart of this City side, making leaping saves and gung-ho lunges to safeguard his goal. His transformation has been one of the stories of the year and City are indefinitely better for it.