Manchester City went back to winning ways in a tense and ragged game against Bournemouth. While the talking points generally surrounded the chaotic final minutes, there were some positives to take as City head into the international break.
Anis Bazza takes a look at What We Learned from today’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth.
The Craziest End to a Game
Staring down the barrel of the worst start to a league season in seven years, Pep Guardiola imploded, losing his cool at yet another decision at the expense of his team. Bournemouth had been breaking up play in more ways than one, roughing up the City attackers and going down for extended periods of time.
And that continued all the way until the 98th minute where tactics and structure were out of the window and rigour and determination was favoured instead. It was any passion merchants’ delight with game seemingly on the verge of boiling over because of Mike Dean’s ineptitude and failure to listen to the players. City couldn’t control the game, Mike Dean lost control of the game and so Raheem Sterling put the game to bed.
The furore surrounding the final minutes took only moments after the final whistle to be realised. Raheem Sterling sent off for overt celebrating (Does Mike Dean despise euphoric happiness?), Aguero allegedly hit a steward and Mendy did what he’s done best so far at City, troll everybody on Twitter.
— Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) August 26, 2017
Manchester City must find a solution to the defensive midfield problem
Something hasn’t been right so far in this league campaign. The brilliant dominative play has been chequered at best over three games while large parts of our game has been sterile and timid. Even Pep Guardiola admitted before today’s visit to Bournemouth that so far it was a “little like last season”.
The only difference might’ve being that we don’t have a hologram in goal with new boy Ederson making several vital saves from softly-conceded counter-attacks.
One player guilty of conceding the ball in dangerous areas might be Fernandinho, who looks set to be our first-choice midfielder this season. He lost the ball several times against Bournemouth and generally looked uncomfortable dictating play. I said after City crashed out of the Champions League to Monaco that Fernandinho was no longer the man he used to be and there is no evidence yet to prove otherwise. Fernandinho looks devoid of the arrogance/confidence he had in years past, he’s several yards slower and watching today, it was clearly visible how frustrated players like De Bruyne and Danilo were when he had the ball because of his limited vision.
Manchester City must find a solution to their defensive midfield problem if they want to succeed this year. Yaya Touré played the role brilliantly last season but has yet to appear for City so far. Ilkay Gundogan is apparently being groomed for the role but trusting a player with such a terrible injury record would be horribly short-sighted. Might Guardiola relinquish his interest in a defender in order to plug the bigger hole in midfield?
Full-backs on the go
Benjamin Mendy completed 11 crosses from open play against Bournemouth, an astonishing figure dwarfing even the great crossing king Kevin De Bruyne. At every opportunity, he punished Bournemouth’s defenders with teasing drilled crosses, floaters, cut-backs – you name it. He has a fantastic array of different crosses and he exploits them extremely well.
On the other side, Danilo was just as effective, a player who hasn’t put a foot wrong this season. Whichever side he plays on, he bombs forward, cuts in on his other foot and dips in those early-over-the-center-back balls like a true playmaker.
It’s been utterly refreshing to see athletic and technical full-backs make their impact this season and long may it continue.
Raheem Sterling FC
It really is Raheem Sterling FC goes a particular Football Twitter expression. One week, two games, two big goals. Just like last season, when it really mattered Raheem Sterling turned up.
The truth is though that this week could’ve gone very differently for Raheem Sterling. Exclude his brilliantly hit volley and deflected finish today, his performances were devoid of the smooth trajectory he usually brings to a game. There were no lightning breaks or mazy dribbles. Instead it was choppy, archaic and rarely fluent. It could’ve been different week for Raheem Sterling but it wasn’t.
Despite those discrepancies, Sterling made his impact. While Sané struggled, Sterling constantly ran at opposition defences causing havoc and getting on the end of chances. He may have missed a few but he buried the important ones and for that deserves credit and a consistent run in the team.
Get in there @sterling7 🕺🏽⚽️
— Kyle Walker (@kylewalker2) August 26, 2017