Manchester City went into the first international break of the season with a vital away win against AFC Bournemouth on Saturday morning. Raheem Sterling scored the winner for the Blues, and the three points the earned at the Vitality Stadium are huge.
Here are a few takeaways from what we saw on Saturday:
1 - Benjamin Mendy will be a beast in the Premier League
The Frenchman made his debut as a Blue with a very impressive 90-minute performance against the Cherries. Mendy was a key component of the offensive machine on Saturday, as it seemed every attacking move eventually ended with a cross from Mendy. There were a lot of crosses (11, to be exact), and almost every one of them either hit the target or forced the defense into a desperate clearance.
Mendy was a nightmare for Bournemouth right-back Adam Smith, but Smith won’t be the only one suffering with Big Benji. The Frenchman showed he doesn’t need too much time to adapt to the famous “physicality of the Premier League”. Mendy is a unit for lack of better world, and he’s definitely got the strength. He’s also got incredible pace and stamina to keep running forward and tracking back for the whole game, and he will provide a lot of assists this season with his amazing crossing.
Mendy is the most expensive defender in history, and if his debut is any indication, he’s worth every penny.
2 - Bernardo Silva needs time, but he's also really good
Unlike Mendy, it was clear on Saturday that it’ll take some time for Bernardo Silva to show his full range of skills in the Premier League. That has nothing to do with his small frame, after all David Silva dominates English football and is just as short as Bernardo. For the young Portuguese, is much more about adapting to Pep Guardiola than the league itself.
Bernardo played in a very simple attacking system at Monaco. He was on the right wing all the time, and as soon as he had the ball he would cut inside and find one of the strikers, usually Kylian Mbappé, making a run in behind the defense. At City, Bernardo will have to get involved in the possession game and there will be many more players making runs. The game is also faster in the Premier League, and Bernardo will have less time to make decisions.
He’s a very intelligent player and we already saw a few glimpses of his talent against Bournemouth, so he won’t take too much time to be fully integrated into the system. Once he is, though, he’ll make the team much better.
3 - City can win ugly games now
This was perhaps one of the biggest problems last season: City would dominate and win games where the opponents allowed them to play football, but the Blues would struggle against sides that constantly wasted time and stopped the game with fouls and fake injuries. Against Bournemouth, City showed patience in the second half and kept looking for a goal even though the Cherries constantly committed fouls and wasted time.
It was a poor game to watch in the second half, but the Blues fought through it and eventually got a goal. What is interesting is that Raheem Sterling’s winner was the result of a long passing sequence that started in midfield and ended with six different City players touching the ball until it came to Sterling. It was a gorgeous team goal and it showed that Pep Ball can win games. Even the ugly ones.