Man City Dominate Stoke City 7-2
Manchester finally looking like a Pep Guardiola team in the 7-2 drumming over Stoke City on Saturday. The team gained first place in the league when Manchester United drew at Anfield. In the eight games to start the year, they have seven wins and a single draw, scoring 29 goals and allowing 4 goals in that stretch.
Last year a lot of people were critical of Pep Guardiola and his managing skills after spending so much money and not winning a single trophy. Many claimed that he can’t actually build a playing style he likes because he doesn’t have the players and that his success has always come from managing two of the top five teams in Europe. The Spanish man is known for coaching teams playing beautiful football during his time in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but many feel that level has not been seen in Manchester.
Yet this weekend Manchester city performances look right on par with the other great teams he has managed. If Manchester city had worn the old Barca kit you might not have noticed it was another team. They were playing on all cylinders creating chance after chance creating interlocking play and holding possession with ease. Real progress to the elite level is being shown.
Defensively they still have work to do they allowed two goals, but that didn’t stop them. They took a Stoke City to the clinic a team that had beaten Arsenal and got to a draw against Manchester United. Still, they looked in a different league having no solution to the constant pressure City was creating. Against Europe elite, they cant allow cheap goals like they did Saturday. Still, the best solution to allowing two goals is scoring seven goals.
The heart of the team is clearly Kevin de Bruyne. In this impressive start of the season, he has looked like the clear centerpiece of the team, The player that drives the ball and isn’t afraid to go in for a tackle. Guardiola this year has played him deeper in the midfield that we have seen in his career and what it has done is highlight the great vision the Belgian has to change the point of attack. He got two assists on Saturday getting his tally up to 6 assists on the year.
Another aspect that is surprising of this Guardiola team is he has a very young and expensive front line of Man city playing like seasoned veterans. They all the challenges they have had this year. Gabriel Jesus scored the first goal of the day finishing a great pass from Kyle Walker. The Brazilian is just 20 years old and in 17 premier league appearances, he has scored 13 goals, with six goals coming this season and two on Saturday. His movement upfront is special and puts back-lines under constant pressure. He is proving to be the perfect front-man in a Guardiola system, This why Aguero Starting spot has been put in doubt.
Yet, Jesus is not the only expensive young talent that has started the season in fine form. Raheem Sterling has had in the best form in a Manchester city shirt to start this year on the right-hand side. He has six goals to start the year one shy of his record with the club and it is only October. On the left-hand side, Leroy Sane seems to be finally be setting in, scoring four goals already this year and proving a big problem for left backs going forward.
Guardiola started all three on Saturday. They are all under the age of 22 making this a setup that could last many years to come. When news came out on Aguero injury in the car crash there were some doubts if the team would miss his goals. The answer has been no, between Sterling, Sane and Jesus they have scored 16 goals in 8 games to start the year.
This team is currently without the most expensive defender in the world in Mendy and their club legend Sergio Aguero, and you wouldn’t have noticed. Two starters are out and the team still holds a world-class level creating seven goals. This is finally starting to look like money well spent, like a project finally starting to take foot.
The core of the Squad is very young and with Guardiola guiding it maybe they do really have a chance to build from starch (or money) a generational team that plays beautiful free-flowing football. If they use their financial resources to make sure many of these players see their career out in the sky blue shirt., then they are set up for something special.
While the defensive issues still loomed over the team and are something that has to be worked on if they want to win the Champions League, one thing is for sure: This team can score on anyone.