Manchester City have been knocked out of the EFL Cup after a Round of 16 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford, with Juan Mata winning the Derby for the Reds.
Here's a few takeaways from what we saw on Wednesday night:
1 - City's future is secured
Aleix García and Pablo Maffeo were simply EXCEPTIONAL. They absolutely dominated their positions, and stood up to United's high-quality players with amazing composure for their age. Aleix was Pep's player on the pitch, the man who passed the ball around and helped create plays, and García was fantastic doing it. His defending was also on point, and helped Fernando make Paul Pogba disappear from the game.
Maffeo absolutely destroyed Marcus Rashford, who didn't go through the young Spaniard for the whole game. Pablo was tasked with stopping the United rising star, and he did a superb job. His passing was also very good, and for the few times City did play out of the back, he wasn't afraid of the pressure. He should be starting regularly from now on, and with a coach like Pep who's willing to give the youngsters a chance to shine, he will have those opportunities going forward.
2 - Losing in the EFL Cup is good
While the loss extended City's winless streak to six games, it was by fair the least worrying result/performance. It was the second team against a United team at near full strength, and City put on a fight. Had Iheanacho put his chance away at the start, it could have been a different game, but at the end of the day, the result isn't as bad or deserves any type of overreaction.
The best thing about the loss, though, is that it gives Pep three full weeks of training. Had City gone through on Wednesday, they could play a quarterfinal match and two semifinal legs in November and December, and Guardiola would continue to play every three days until the end of the year. While the elimination hurts a little bit, it gives Pep a chance to have a full 5-7 days to practice with his squad and help them understand his system even more, and that will happen THREE TIMES. That time to train and teach was not something Pep was expecting, but something he welcomes greatly in the first few months of his debut season.
3 - Sergio Agüero is in trouble
One of the greatest strikers in Premier League history seems to have fallen down Pep's pecking order, and this is a worrying sign. Despite starting the season red hot, with 11 goals in just six appearances, Kun seemed to be struggling more than most to find his place in this system. A Guardiola striker is not really a striker, it's just another player who needs to be involved in chance creation, but is closer to the goal than the rest. Agüero has always played like a pure striker, waiting for the ball to come to him and then fire shots on goal. With Pep, you have to chase the game, help dominate the action and always be involved. You can't just be the guy who shoots, and that's what Agüero is struggling to understand. Maybe Pep needs to adapt to Sergio, but Agüero also has to put in the work and be humble enough to accept a new role. If he doesn't, well...