Manchester City have got off to a flying start this season under new boss Pep Guardiola, winning their first eight games in all competitions and scoring 25 goals in the process- including eight in their last two matches, with comfortable victories against Bournemouth and Borussia Monchengladbach.
The question now is whether the Citizens can keep this sort of form up for the remainder of the season and whether they can transfer these performances onto the European stage, especially with two huge clashes with Guardiola’s former employers, Barcelona, coming up.
Having stormed to success in Spain with Barcelona and Germany with Bayern Munich, Guardiola looks on course for further honours with Manchester City- and we’ve dissected his squad today to have a look at his tactics.
With Joe Hart ousted and sent on-loan to Serie A minnows Torino for the season, Manchester City splashed the cash to bring in Claudio Bravo from Barcelona. His debut against Manchester United wasn’t the best of performances but he’s been a huge player in the past two years for Barca, who have won back-to-back La Liga crowns, and his ability on the ball is what makes him perfect in Pep Guardiola’s eyes.
The full-back positions at Manchester City are arguably the weakest in the squad, with ageing pair Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna featuring here, but under Guardiola’s tactics the French duo have been given a new lease of life. Both are crucial to City going forward, providing width and creating a partnership with the attacking midfielders ahead of him, so there’s certainly a lot more to come here.
Whilst Vincent Kompany has played a bit-part this season due to his recovery from injury, the skipper still remains as the best defender in the squad. When fit, he’ll lead the side and can hope to lift a trophy or two this season- whilst his experience can rub off onto his new central-defensive partner, John Stones, and potentially mould the England international into a future captain for club and country.
Another player who’s enjoyed remarkable form in the early days under Guardiola is midfield powerhouse Fernandinho, who in current form is one of the best defensive midfielders in world football. The Brazilian has shone and should improve his performances in the coming weeks with a new partner alongside him, German international Ilkay Gundogan, as the former Borussia Dortmund man is being bled into the side following his injury troubles.
At the focal point of attacking midfield is Belgian ace Kevin De Bruyne, who enjoyed a relatively good debut season back in the Premier League last term but has taken his performances up a notch this season- with two goals and three assists in his opening five games of the new season. If he continues this form, he’s a shoe-in for Player of the Year.
Out wide, Raheem Sterling is finally showing his potential once more after a difficult debut season following his move from Liverpool last summer and Pep Guardiola is certainly getting the best out of him. With two assists, he’s already equalled his tally for the whole of last season and his three Premier League goals thus far almost put him level on goals- with the England international scoring just six in 31 Premier League matches last term.
On the other side, Spaniard Nolito has shown positive performances in his first month in Manchester, despite a late red-card at the weekend against Bournemouth, and in his absence we can expect to see more of young Leroy Sane. Just 20, Sane will be in-and-out of the side this season but will be a huge part of the Citizen’s future.
Finally, leading the line is star-man Sergio Aguero- arguably the only Premier League player who has a chance of rivalling Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the crown of best player in the world. The Argentine is currently serving a suspension but, in his absence, Nigerian ace Kelechi Iheanacho has shown he is capable of filling the void- which is huge news given Aguero’s injury record in recent years, as previously it was suggested they would struggle without him.
As well as the mentioned names, City still have the likes of Nicolas Otamendi and David Silva to call upon, two players who are up there with the best in the division, and their immense squad depth should certainly help them this season as they look to compete on all fronts.
Last year, City reached the semi-finals of the Champions League but performed poorly in two-legs against eventual winners Real Madrid but this term they could potentially go all the way. Whilst there is a long way to go, given their performances this season you certainly wouldn’t bet against them.