Earlier in the season, teams that pressed and attacked Manchester City made them look uneasy. AFC Bournemouth were expected to play aggressively, as opposed to simply packing everyone behind the ball and kicking long balls as most relegation-bound teams tend to do.
After a long, tough effort from both sides, here are three things we learned:
1 - Speed is making a difference in a number of ways
In every position, the Sky Blues have gotten faster. Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling have set the tone constantly in recent matches, but it has become a general trend in the side. From covering space to handling the ball, each player seems to have improved.
Kevin De Bruyne stuck out against Bournemouth with pressure from box to box. He and David Silva connected the team by tucking in on defense and then bolting up the pitch with the ball to turn.
With this spark, the Blues put more players behind the ball immediately when the Cherries gained possession. With intelligent, reliable defensive formations, they were able to constantly frustrate Bournemouth’s offensive hopes.
2 - Security has been developed
The back five for City had outstanding performances. Savvy positioning throughout the match allowed them to achieve an ideal balance of defensive composure and offensive efforts.
They also showed what it means to be stronger in the box. John Stones and Aleksandar Kolarov provided excellent positioning and immense physical presence in front of Willy Caballero.
The versatility and speed of the entire formation allowed City to cover second and third runs from Bournemouth’s frequent bouts of proactive play. Although the Cherries had their looks, the Blues were able to frustrate their final attempts and keep a clean sheet.
3 - City’s excited
For a period late in the game, the entire formation weaved and overlapped, rotated and passed with ease. Although they will face more reputable foes in the near future, City have activated valuable assets in remarkable ways since the start of 2017.
There’s more to see from the squad, of course, but the defensive confidence and the passing performance of the last minutes in the match are just two signs that the Blues are honing their sights on this season’s objectives.
Even before they entered the stretch of complete domination late in the match, the traveling supporters could be heard with a full repertoire of burly chants. If the players keep pushing themselves to the fullest degree, their fans will give them an incredible boost in the final stretch of competitions this year.