Manchester City’s weekend’s victory against Burnley was just the latest in a string of victories, but it was the most underrated. Here’s a look at the reasons why.
When we think about Manchester City’s football this season, we think about convincing, stylish and comely as descriptives. The penultimate and the latter wasn’t quite present on Saturday but the former was – and that’s the most impressive part.
Pep Guardiola’s team moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Burnley – in a game where Sergio Aguero equalled the clubs all-time goalscoring record with a penalty to join Eric Brook on 177.
Punters and pundits will overlook this victory as a normality – but this is why the win was one of their best this season.
The early stages saw a stubborn Burnley making their tactical stance clear. The middle of the park was already congested with white shirts by the second minute mark. The Clarets made the middle a no-go zone for the blues. And for the majority of the day – that’s how it was.
The breakthrough came on 28 minutes for City, when Bernardo Silva was brought down in the area by goalkeeper Nick Pope. The aftermath from the Burnley’s point-of-view was that the Portuguese international dived.
Aguero got his goal from the spot to equal the record, it was the type of goal the home side needed to open up a resilient and well-organised opposition.
In the second half, Nicolas Otamendi guided home a rare goal in two ways – one being the goalscorer – and the method. Yes, it was headed in from a corner, but it was impressive to see the home side show a more pragmatic way of scoring when the going got tough. The reason being, they have now shown that they can score any type of goal, and not just through an attractive build-up – which, by the way they are the best at.
Leroy Sane added a third, two minutes after the Otamendi’s goal in the 75th minute. This even more impressive. A counter attack which had just two passes in the build-up, the second pass being a trademark inside through-ball by Kevin De Bruyne for the German winger, who made his run inside to slot in.
It was one of City’s best wins this season. Burnley have proven to be a tough outfit this campaign – and up until Saturday they were unbeaten away from home. But the Blues told the world through the medium of that performance – that they don’t need to play so exquisitely all the time.
To be Champions – as they know – you need a bit of everything. Ugliness, which goes against Pep’s principles, but even he knows that he has to adapt his preparations for this type of league.