There were a number of moments in the match against Sunderland that Manchester City looked a little off balance. The relegation-threatened hosts gave the Blues a sure challenge at times, but the result shows the ultimate strength that City were able to muster.
Here are three things we learned:
1 - Versatility
In the last 15 minutes of the match, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero lined up a number of vicious shots from the top of the box. On top of the soft-touch redirections that have gained prominence in recent matches, these long-range attempts complement the other areas of City’s attacking portfolio.
In addition, Raheem Sterling’s low crosses have been put into the back of the net with ease in the last few weeks, while Leroy Sané has taken to driving at defenders from the left flank with uncanny swiftness.
Agüero and De Bruyne showed clear frustration after their attempts were kept out of the net. If these guys (and others) consistently open space beyond the box with twisting, bending shots, the dynamics of the Blues’ offense could expand exponentially.
2 - Staying Focused
Willy Caballero has provided something crucial for City this season. He was livid on Sunday after his defense left him open to glances from the bottom-of-the-table hosts.
Pointing to his temples with both index fingers, he demanded that his team remained focused in order to escape from Sunderland with three points and, preferably, a clean sheet.
Other than a few flubbed passes against Monaco, Caballero has constantly given the team a manner of remaining more composed.
Whether it comes from the keeper, the center-back, or someone else, City need players to sustain the appropriate mindset.
3 - Longevity
Although Pep Guardiola prefers to shy away from questions about the goals for this season and for the future, it has become more and more clear that a vision for the club is coming together.
For the short-term, the squad gives enough depth to rotate midfielders and defenders with a focus on the productivity of an immensely talented front three.
Rumors swirling around the Etihad about summer transfers would surely bring further development of the approach currently under development, in the likes of more agile defenders and midfielders.
As it stands, the squad can definitely sustain a run in the three competitions they are currently pursuing. To do so, they will have to maintain and expand their current brand of mature, high-speed football.
Even with the defensive needs that will lead to spending this summer, City have an incredible foundation of talent and elite training that will serve them this season and for years to come.
It was not necessarily an emphatic win, but the display against Sunderland proved that the Blues can produce positive performances without their entire regime of advanced players.
No one will lament the outcome, but there’s much more to be desired. Upcoming Premier League matches, FA Cup dates, and a Champions League fixture at AS Monaco will surely test the resolve of the City machine.