Manchester City began the new Premier League season in winning fashion, dominating new boys Brighton and leaving the south coast with three points in the bag. A textbook Sergio Aguero goal and a wonderful own goal from the Seagulls’ Lewis Dunk gave the Citizens the win, but it was the wonderful Kyle Walker who caught the eye in a one-sided affair.
The rampaging right-back, who signed from Tottenham Hotspur this summer, impressed throughout his Premier League debut in Sky Blue, winning both BT Sport’s and City Watch’s own Man of the Match awards.
Walker started at wing-back in the 3-5-2 formation that Guardiola tested rigorously during pre-season. The new man put in an assured display, providing width and attacking options for David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as they looked to unlock a stubborn Brighton backline.
Several times in the game, Walker was City’s most advanced player, providing a different attacking option than City are used to. In a game that was essentially attack vs. defence, City struggled to breakdown a resolute Brighton but Walker’s attacking contribution helped to stretch the pitch and drag opposition players out of the comfort zone.
On the ball, Walker was just as effective, linking up superbly with Silva and De Bruyne and finishing the game with an 89.4% pass completion rate. The right-back’s ball retention was excellent, helping City keep possession and dominate the game from start to finish.
Walker also worked hard defensively and performed well at the back when called upon, winning the joint-highest amount of aerial dues in the City side. This proves that Walker can excel in both facets of the game, something which City have been crying out for in recent years.
What will he add?
A different option going forward
Whether he is used as an out-and-out right-back or a wing-back in a 3-5-2 system, Walker has demonstrated that he can provide the Blues with a new attacking option. His display against Brighton showed his ability at getting high and wide, thus helping the likes of Silva, De Bruyne and Fernandinho by creating the space in the half channels for them to exploit.
3-5-2 is an option
Walker’s display against the south coast outfit, as well as his impressive displays in pre-season, demonstrated that the 3-5-2 system is a viable option going forward this season.
The introductions of Walker, Danilo and Mendy mean that this is now a doable formation for the Sky Blues, with Walker fitting the system perfectly. This gives Pep the option to mix up formations with confidence, something that would have been an issue last year.
So, even after 90 minutes of Premier League football Kyle Walker looks to be a fantastic addition to the City squad, providing a wealth of options to the boys in Blue. A MOTM display on his Premier League debut is a great benchmark and I have a feeling he’s only just getting started.