Five goals scored. No goals conceded. Whether it’s Liverpool or Crystal Palace it doesn’t seem to matter to the Blues at the moment. City are looking absolutely relentless and till now have had no problems putting several goals past the ‘lesser’ teams in the league, taking us fans back to the flat-track bullying era under Mancini.
Here’s what I learned from the game…
Out of Superlatives for Sané
It has been said countless times now by each and every City Watch writer and with every superlative imaginable that Leroy Sané is a talent. So I’m just going to take the easy way out and say that he is very very very very very good and can only get better. When deployed on the left-wing he is the stuff of nightmares for any opposition full-back who will know they are in for a torrid 90 minutes of football. The way that City set up usually drags the opposition wide players into the midfield and throughout the game against Palace, Sané consistently found himself 1 v 1 against Timothy Fosu-Mensah and made the Eagles pay for it on a number of occasions. The first goal, coming towards the back of a frustrating half for City, was a piece of individual brilliance from the young German as he got behind the back line from a lofted Silva ball, touched it over the head of Scott Dann and coolly poked it under the legs of the onrushing Hennessey. It was exactly what we needed before the break and in a half where Aguero had seemed to go missing, Sané was there to drag us into the lead.
Now the fact that this guy is special is not exactly news, so what did we learn from his performance this game? Well, we learned that he should definitely be starting more games than he has done this season. Often finding himself on the bench due to Pep’s preference to deploying Aguero and Jesus in a front two, Sané hasn’t gotten himself the minutes most would have expected after his dazzling displays last season. Today however, we saw the best parts of last season – but this time with a defence.
Guardiola has one hell of a selection dilemma on his hands now though. All of his front men are banging them in at the moment and it doesn’t appear there is a formation that allows them all to play at the same time – without shipping a tonne of goals in at the other end anyway. It’s a good problem to have obviously but in this form, it seems that Sané has moved his way to the top of the team sheet.
Options in defence
When the transfer window shut I was slightly concerned that we were in a very similar perilous position to last season. If the captain went down, the ship would go with him. Sure enough, a couple of days later on international duty Vincent Kompany got injured and we were left with two legitimate options at centre-back with Mangala appearing to not be in Pep’s plans.
The midweek cup game against West Brom was a bit of a revelation for the defence and some of the players. Mangala returned and Delph was deployed at left-back. Pep showed that we had options, maybe not good options, but options none the less. Today was another example of this. After starting the game with a back four of Walker – Stones – Otamendi – Mendy we ended with Danilo – Walker – Otamendi – Delph.
The injury to Mendy early in the game really worried me. We were struggling to break through as it was and losing the width and crossing that he brings to a game was a huge loss. Danilo is a fine replacement in my opinion but his natural instinct on the left is usually to turn back onto his favoured right foot rather than whip a cross in first time.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Delph was brought into the picture later on. The game was won when Stones was taken off and I think that Pep wanted to test out the adaptability of his back line for 20 minutes in a real game. Danilo – who has been deployed at centre-back in the past – moved over to the right. Walker moved into the centre and Delph took up the position on the left. There will be much tougher tests over the season no doubt but City have a big squad at the moment and Pep is showing that he is ready to utilize his players in whatever position he can.