Saturday’s FA Cup match against Crystal Palace will allow Manchester CIty a brief moment of celebration before looking forward to a Premier League match against West Ham United on Wednesday. City’s goal scoring machine warmed up the visitors' stand as sleet threatened to halt the match at Selhurst Park.
In the end, it was a relatively dominant match that sees the Sky Blues into the next round of football's oldest competition. Here are three things we learned:
1 - Vincent Kompany can help City stay composed
The captain’s return to health could send ripples of confidence through the rest of the squad. Those directly next to the Belgian center back will be comforted by his strong presence as they step to opposing attackers.
As the team built up from the back against Palace, Kompany often rotated to open space for back passes and to hold the center in front of Willy Caballero.
It will make sense for him to get rest occasionally as Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones also seek playing time but, in general, Kompany’s active presence surely has a key centering effect.
2 - There are more goals to score!
There are many reasons for City fans to be satisfied with Saturday’s FA Cup result, along with many other reasons to be excited about the potential to score far an abundant amount of goals.
The Blues were able to let Kevin De Bruyne get a day of rest while David Silva and others worked their way toward Crystal Palace’s box.
Gabriel Jesus had a number of good looks and, with his incredible positivity, deft touches, and bursts of speed, it is only a matter of time until he starts supporting the scoreline in a serious way. He provided the assist for the first goal with a pin-point pass between the lines to Raheem Sterling.
Leroy Sané continued an excellent run of form with City’s second goal. At this point, it must be hard to take the German's name out of the starting XI as his speed and confidence in front of goal has been City’s most constant threat in recent games.
Wednesday’s Premier League fixture against West Ham will merit the utmost in terms of team selection, pressure when the Hammers have the ball, and speed in the attack. With those ingredients fully engaged, they’ll be looking to make it 3-0 before the half again.
3 - Concentration is key
When City were upbeat in the match against Palace, they threatened regularly.
The game hit a lull before Sterling’s counter-attack goal gave City a 1-0 lead going into the break. During that dip in possession, Palace had a number of free kicks and corners that were eventually controlled and cleared.
Over the course of long games, whether they’re looking for a goal or defending a lead, City have to show comprehensive concentration. The return of Kompany, the arrival of Gabriel Jesus, and the end of Fernandinho’s suspension are huge boosts. However, they are insignificant if the team cannot show real concentration for the remainder of the season.
The squad rotation employed by Pep Guardiola seems to be operating more efficiently. Regardless of where players stand in the formation, the ability to step into a fluid, forward-thinking, open system in order to manage Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League matches will be a huge sign of how far the squad can go this season.