Manchester City showed no signs of rustiness following the international break as Pep Guardiola’s men comprehensively beat Fulham by a 3-0 scoreline at the Etihad Stadium. A sucker punch early goal from Leroy Sané knocked the wind out of the London club almost as soon as the match got underway, whilst added goals courtesy David Silva and Raheem Sterling allowed City to complete what turned out to be fairly routine victory.
With Fulham unable to present any sort of formidable challenge, the Blues were able to keep a valuable first clean sheet at home, ensuring they keep early pace in what is proving to be a full-throttle first couple of months to the 2018/19 Premier League season. Here’s how we rated the players…
Ederson – 6.5
Whilst Ederson probably could have driven home to see his newborn child in the minutes he was left untroubled inbetween the sticks, it is for that exact reason that he earns a slight ratings boost. In a team that sustains such dominance in the opposition half, it is reassuring to know the Brazilian is always on his toes in the case of any defensive lapses. Rewarded for both performance and parenthood with a first home clean sheet of the season.
Kyle Walker – 6.5
The Englishman was not able to continue his goalscoring form from last time out, having to settle for a competent defensive display instead. Having marshalled the right side for two thirds of the match, Walker dealt well with an unorthodox tactical switch to left back. However, the disparity with his power in his favoured right back position was evident nonetheless. A lesson learned, though unlikely to reoccur with Mendy is available.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6
Otamendi will have been thankful for such an easy return to the Premier League, such was the impotence of Fulham’s front line. Suspected to have been deployed to deal with the physicality of Aleksandar Mitrovic, the Argentine would not have been blamed if he thought he was playing a game of hide-and-seek, with the Serbian often found nowhere near goal. A clinical tackle in the first half proved to be his only real call to action.
Aymeric Laporte – 6
Much like defensive partner Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte was hardly troubled in City’s defence, having more to do bringing the ball up toward the opposing goal than protecting his own. Though mostly twiddling his thumbs, it bears noticing that Laporte has been the most consistent centre back so far this season. Still only young, more games will only bring the best from the Frenchman as he looks to be getting a firm foothold on City’s backline.
Fabian Delph – 8
Having gotten his first minutes of 2018/19 in last Tuesday’s international friendly for England against Switzerland, Delph did well to soothe those irked by Benjamin Mendy’s match day absence. Just as with that match in Leicester, Delph distinguished himself from others around him with his boundless energy, with today seeing him make crunching tackles when needed as well as push the team higher up the pitch. It is a credit to the Yorkshireman that he made most forget about Mendy’s absence in much the same manner he did for the majority of last season, reminding us of the quality of City’s squad depth. Unlucky to go off with a knock.
Fernandinho – 7
It was a resurgent performance from Fernandinho this afternoon as he shook of some of the cobwebs that he had been plagued with before the international break. The added rest from not being called up the The Brazil squad served him well as he had that extra stride to get forward and poach the ball early on and assist the opening goal. An experienced decision by Guardiola to move the Brazilian to left back late on, allowing his quality to remain on call if needed.
David Silva – 8
Mercurial. Majestic. Magician. As ever, all three apply to David Silva, who dances around the opposition with a grace that is perpetually effortless. Scoring his 50th Premier League goal merely served to highlight just how enduring Silva proves to be, yet to say it spoke of his whole game would be criminal to the Spaniard’s tireless contributions. In fact, it is laughable to expect anything else but excellence at this point.
Bernardo Silva – 9 (Man of the Match)
Just when you think you have it all, life finds a way to surprise you. This could certainly be the case for all involved with City, for just as David Silva looks to be emphasising his midfield supremacy, Bernardo Silva comes along and upstages him. With a touch as light as a feather, Bernardo’s performance against Fulham was enough to almost be a perfect 10, spare missing a forgivable goal chance. What a gift we have on our hands here. Even Pep thinks as much, stating in his post-match quotes: “Thank you so much to Manchester City fro buying him.” The heir apparent to the Silva throne in more than name.
Raheem Sterling – 8
To think that there is uncertainty around Sterling’s contract situation is somewhat bewildering, not on the fault of the Englishman, but that City have simply not agreed to his demands already. It stands now at 3 goals in 5 games for Sterling, a player who, even when having an off day, is continually able to arrive at the right place and right time. It might not have been as sparkling as those against Arsenal or Newcastle, but the goal today emphasised that Sterling is sure enough becoming one of City’s most reliable performers.
Leroy Sané – 8
Either someone needs to lambast him in the press more often or the German needs to have more children, because today was as quick a turnaround in form as Leroy is up the wing. Emphatically silencing his critics in 97 seconds, Sané then proceeded to show his quality in the best way possible, quietly slotting back into his left wing position as though he had not had a single minute away from the first eleven or the first team. Some of his link up play with David Silva was astonishing, providing quite a few opportunities that would have been easy contenders from Goal of the Season. Let us hope he can build upon this in the same manner he did last season.
Sergio Aguero – 7.5
Preemptive talk of a return to full fitness may have been an unfortunate jinx for Agüero, as a run-of-the-mill descent from an aerial duel was enough to give the Argentinian ace a problem with his ankle. Before being substituted off just after half time, Agüero had looked his dependable self, darting around the box and pressuring defenders with a vigour that brings a smile to your face. The fact that he had enough time and energy to provide an assist for Sterling should prove that his injury concerns are not that serious, as well as remind Blues of his unquestionable potency once more.
Gabriel Jesus – 5.5
Gabriel Jesus is slowly becoming an intriguing issue for Manchester City. Originally billed as a potential successor to fellow South American Agüero, the young Brazilian is not quite pushing the envelope for his inclusion over the Argentine just yet. Some may point out that a hard chance came straight into his shins, yet it warrants further thought that those half chances are the exact ones that a top class striker needs to put home. When today provided him with an unexpected chance to impress, he was unable to deliver. The clock may be ticking, especially when he might be called upon in other competitions.
Ilkay Gündogan – 6
Perhaps the biggest detractor of Gündogan’s performance was not in his own appearance, but the failure of another. With a new season and national team pressures bringing increased clamour for the inclusion of Stockport lad Phil Foden, an authoritative lead seemed tailor-made for the young Englishman’s inclusion, essentially meaning that Gündogan functioned mostly as a pin for further atmosphere. The German admittedly had little to do, though had little chance to excite in the doldrums of defensive midfield.
Riyad Mahrez – 6
Again, there was not much opportunity for Mahrez to put his mark on the game in his late appearance, especially considering the relative starvation of the forward line once the Algerian was up and running and the match had accordingly dried up. Mahrez is the one player who City fans may expect more from given the performances he put in for Leicester, but players like Bernardo Silva or Sané likewise took their time to get up to speed under Guardiola. There is hopefully much more to come.