Manchester City went down to 10 men and had to fight very hard to get a 1-1 draw against Everton on Monday night. It was a very good Premier League match with Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling scoring the goals, and despite some problems the Blues once again played very good football.
Here are a few takeaways from what we saw at the Etihad:
1 - Raheem Sterling deserves more time
The young Englishman changed the game once he came on at half-time. Sterling started as a wing-back on the right flank but was later moved centrally, and he was very effective. Sterling caused plenty of problems running in behind the Everton backline and moving all over the attacking third to link up with the midfield and create chances.
Sterling also scored a great goal, and even though he missed an easy chance before he found the back of the net, it was Raheem who rescued a point for the Blues. With the suspension of Kyle Walker for the next game, Sterling has a high chance of being in the starting lineup. After what he did in preseason and against Everton, he certainly deserves it.
2 - Leroy Sané should not play as wing-back
The young German is a fantastic footballer who already proved his talents last season, but with Pep Guardiola switching to a 5-3-2 formation, the only place for Sané in this particular system is as a wing-back, which does not suit his specific qualities. While City play a very attacking style and the wing-backs play very high up the pitch, Sané needs to track back as a normal full-back to form a back five when City are out of possession.
Because he has way more defensive responsibilities as a wing-back, Sané has often been exposed and it was his mistake that led to Everton’s goal on Monday. Leroy is a young player and will do anything asked of him, but Pep should maximize his offensive potential instead of looking to give him more defensive work. Either play a 4-3-3 again or use Sané as a second striker in the current setup. It suits Sané and it makes the team more solid defensively.
3 - Sergio Agüero and Gabriel Jesus don't look good together
Agüero and Jesus played very well together at the end of last season, but it happened in a 4-3-3 formation with Gabriel playing out wide as a winger. In the 5-3-2 the two are playing effectively as strikers, which is simply not working. There’s very little space for two central forwards in today’s game, and even though Agüero and Jesus are mobile and able to drift away from the box, they both want to be close to the goal and end up getting in each other’s way a lot of times.
Pep really wants to make the 5-3-2 formation work, but it doesn’t seem to suit many of the most talented players in the team, especially the two strikers. They CAN play together, but not in this system.