City flew to Italy this week off the back of a series of ‘job dones,’ five more straight wins that cemented the club`s drive to stay ahead of the pack both domestically and in Europe.
The fact is that if Pep Guardiola’s squad can maintain the work rate and intensity that is fast becoming recognised as The City Way and not ship many more injuries, then the sky is the limit this season providing the side can continue to effectively deploy sound ‘game management’ as required. The sensational win at home to Napoli was a case in point. The reinvigorated Blues look fitter and a yard or two quicker this season and they needed to be when Maurizio Sarri`s men began to turn the screw. Sarri has since acknowledged City`s ability to repel his men’s pressing and those efforts will need to be redoubled in the return fixture, but whatever happens in Naples, City have again shown that they can mix it with the very best the continent has to offer.
There have been concerns whispered around the Campus that City began to tire in the first Napoli fixture and have shown similar signs of fatigue since then following such a blistering first quarter of the season. I`m not buying it. These lads are athletes with the finest training and rehabilitation facilities in the world at their disposal. There can be no excuses. A more settled side and subsequent nucleus have also shown as a unit, especially throughout October, a tightening bond of togetherness and will to win that bodes well for the winter months. I thought this was emphasised in the attritional League Cup struggle with bustling Championship front runners Wolves. I sensed that no matter how long the night dragged on and to whatever extent, the side had the collective belief to pull through, and I don’t think I have ever seen a more professionally executed penalty process than the one Pep’s men delivered.
We’ve seen some wonderful football from City this Autumn with not only us Blues but hacks and pundits, let alone begrudging rival fans queuing up to praise the side’s football. Predominantly, as the Stoke thumping showed, it has been a question of how many the team will score inside 90 minutes, especially if we strike early. The team have looked like scoring every single time they’ve raced forward.
The platform for that endeavour has been built upon a defend from the front approach and Pep’s assertion on arrival in Manchester that his footballing philosophy is built upon ‘I want the ball’ has been ruthlessly defined. As a result, by the end of October City had only conceded 6 goals across 3 competitions this season and City`s backline, superbly marshalled by Ederson have seen a weight of pressure lifted due to greater protection and ability to get forward themselves.
The only note of caution I would guard against is any complacency, although with Pep doing his fruit in the technical area the odds are stacked against any of the blips we witnessed at West Brom being consistently repeated.
We wouldn’t be long suffering Blues if we weren’t a little hesitant or doubting the longer a superb unbeaten run has continued, but I sense the sands of time are shifting. Nevermind what a rival side could do to us, regardless of what a biased media might talk up, there will be nobody out there wanting to take on Man City right now. Relish it and pour it on Blues. We want no let up.
Manchester City’s unbeaten run since 23rd April:
Played 21, Won 18, Drawn 3. Goals For 62, Goals Against 12.
How Did Johnny Do?
City 4 Stoke 0 W
City 2 Napoli 1 W
City 3 Burnley 1 W
City 4 Wolves 2 W
West Brom 0 City 3 W
And Lo It Came To Pass?
City 7 Stoke 2 W
City 2 Napoli 1 W
City 3 Burnley 0 W
City 0 Wolves 0 D City beat Wolves 4-1 on pens
West Brom 2 City 3 W
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