Manchester City`s Best Performers So Far
Manchester City fans look set for another entertaining campaign with Pep Guardiola at the helm of what looks like a very well-oiled machine. They have been fantastic in their opening seven games and, with a repeat of this stage last season, they are top of the league (courtesy of an emphatic goal difference of +20). Many experts have said that it is already a two-horse race for the Premier League title between the two Manchester sides as both teams have picked up 19 points from their seven matches. Only four goals have been conceded by their combined defences, but it is the blue half that has managed more goals.
Keeping the Tempo with Bruyne
While a lot of credit for the brilliant early season form is given to their Spanish boss, several players have been vital towards their lightning start. Kevin de Bruyne is one player who deserves a mention and has already registered three assists as well as scoring a cracking winning goal away at Chelsea. There are only four players in the top flight who have made more assists so far this season. The Belgian is thriving in the ‘number 10` role, leading the league in through balls and setting the rhythm as he looks for every opportunity to feed the ball into the deadly strikers.
One of these strikers and someone who has benefitted from two of the Belgian playmaker`s assists is also is in top form at this early stage. Sergio Aguero started yet another campaign at a blistering pace and is currently the front-runner when it comes to goal involvements, with six goals and three assists. The former Atletico striker fractured his rib in a car crash in Amsterdam before the clash with Chelsea and is currently on the bench, with a return just around the corner.
How Manchester City is Coping Without Aguero
Guardiola had an easy choice with the absence of Aguero, with in-form Gabriel Jesus stepping up. After signing for Man City back in January, the 20-year-old has managed 11 goals in just 16 league appearances and looks to provide a long-term replacement for Aguero, who was surprisingly linked with a move away in the summer. Jesus already has six goals, and one assist this season and will be looking to add to this tally while his strike-partner is injured. The young Brazilian was the favourite to score first against Stoke City. With the ability to bet in play on any game, it would have been a wise move to jump on Man City early, as the home team ran riot with a 7-1 thumping.
The other two pint-sized attackers in the Citizens side, David Silva and Raheem Sterling, have played vital roles in their side`s unbeaten opening sequence of matches. It shows just how good the former has been as the quality of his performances is being talked about more than his controversial haircut, one that is very similar to that of his manager! Sterling hasn`t gone for the bald approach in order to winning Pep`s trust, but he has also been great so far this term and is possibly heading towards his best goal scoring season. The English wideman has five goals in his six games and needs just five more to beat the nine goals he scored for Liverpool back in 2013/14.
Strength at the Back
Something that Guardiola was desperate to improve over the summer was defence. It was the frailties of the back four that proved his downfall as they dropped out of the title race last term. However, those regular mistakes are a thing of the past as only two goals have been scored against Man City in the first seven games, one of which was an absolute screamer from Charlie Daniels which went on to win August`s Goal of the Month.
Ederson, who was signed for £35 million, has shown considerable improvement between the sticks while Kyle Walker has brought similar security to the wing-back/full-back position. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have formed a perfect partnership at centre-back, a stark contrast to the many breaches that occurred last season. Stones is known for his great composure on the ball, but it is the defensive aspect of his game that has become stronger over the summer.
Champions League Test
While Man City must ensure they balance their title race in the Premier League with their involvement in the Champions League, Guardiola`s side is going strong on both fronts. Their next three league games shouldn`t pose too much of a threat to their top spot.
Manchester City tore apart Stoke on Saturday, 7-2, to take a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League. The Blues have another home fixture against Burnley and a slightly tougher trip to West Brom. But it is the game in the Champions League which won`t be easy. Napoli travel to the Etihad on Tuesday evening, and while Man City don`t have any real chance of losing their place at the top of Group F due to superior goal difference, the visitors would go level on points with a win. If they can overcome that Italian challenge and take all three points, it will take just one more win to ensure their qualification to their knockout stage.
Keeping the Focus
It is essential that each player in the side stays fit throughout the campaign if they are to go on and win the Premier League title for the third time. But with a strong challenge from their red neighbours, it certainly isn`t as simple as that. Although, this season does look like it could be the one where Pep Guardiola gets back to his record of at least one trophy every year (we`ll just say that last year was a gap year).