Three games. 15 goals. None conceded. Not often is such dominance maintained over a period of three matches, but Pep Guardiola’s Man City seem to have found their groove and then some in their most recent spell. What exactly can the recent display of dominance be attributed to?
New Squad Depth
For the first time in a long time, City do not seem to be riddled with key players’ being unavailable. Mindful of recent seasons, City fans cannot help but cringe every time talismanic striker Sergio Aguero, midfield magician David Silva, or the paper-maché Vincent Kompany go to ground. Yet not only are two of those three fully fit and in fine form, the rest of the roster seems to have them covered should they be forced to miss extended spells down the long 2017/2018 road.
City’s impressive depth should be a comfort to fans—coach Guardiola and director of football Txiki Begiristain have done wonders to prepare City for the trying English year of football.
In addition to added depth, the philosophy of ex-Barcelona player and manager Pep Guardiola seems to finally coming into full effect for City. The defenders are playing aggressive yet accurate passes forward to slice open the high press and find space in the attacking midfield. The outside wingers and fullbacks are working together to make channels down the flanks, and have developed deadly accuracy on the final ball delivery. Attacking veterans Sergio Aguero and, to a lesser but still important extent, Yaya Toure, have worked hard to adapt their games and become ideal players in Pep’s system.
On the defensive end, City have not only become more aggressive on the signature Guardiola press, they have developed better anticipation and are using their hard work in smarter ways. In all three of the Blues’ games against Liverpool, Feyenoord, and Watford, City smothered center halves and midfielders, managed to nick a pass, and scored at least one quick counter-attack goal. When opponents did manage to progress into their attacking third, City refused to back down—and were rewarded for their solidity with three clean sheets. Every Blues fan knows that such a feat is particularly special for the infamously porous City back line.
With so much dominance early in the season, title hope becomes title talk, both among fans and pundits. But City have proved in the past two seasons that the first five games hold no bearing on success for the rest of the season. It is best for fans to remain cautious in their dreams for Premier League glory—but, more importantly, to enjoy the success while it lasts.