Another week, another two wins for the blues as they continue to defend their Premier League and League Cup titles.
First up is Oxford United in the League Cup. This was a potential banana skin for City, considering the number of times the blues have fallen to lower league opposition, the memories of Blackpool, Doncaster, Chesterfield and Brighton to name a few still haunt blues fans to this day. It is always difficult to go to the home of a struggling lower league side and come away with a win. On Tuesday, Oxford had nothing to lose against the blues, while City and Pep would have been left with a huge amount of egg on their faces should they have fallen to the league One side.
And it is testament to Pep’s winning mentality that he played a very strong side. Okay, there was no Aguero, Bernardo Silva and co, but stars such as David Silva, Vincent company and Gabriel Jesus, all of which represented their country at the World cup during the summer, were in the team. All too often in the past, Premier League sides have fielded weakened sides for matches like this and personally, I find it disrespectful, not only to the competition but to the opposition. Oxford fans will have been thrilled with the draw and would have been looking forward to seeing world class stars on their pitch. And they were not disappointed.
The blues won 3-0, but the real star of the evening was Phil Foden. The youngster, who started his City career as a ballboy, took to the field and controlled it. His passes to begin the move which ended with Jesus nodding home, and the ball to Mahrez to score the second showed incredible vision and skill to accomplish, and his night was capped off with his first goal for the club.
There have been calls for Foden to be playing more in the first team and to get into the England squad, but I personally think Pep is getting his management of Foden spot on. Of course the kid wants to play, who wouldn’t? But we have to be mindful that Foden is only 18, and thrusting an 18 year old straight into the first team, then the England squad will ruin him. Look at Michael Owen for example. In 1998, we thought we had one of the world’s best strikers when he scored that wonder goal against Argentina. By the time the 2010 World Cup would come around, we all thought he would still be there. He didn’t even make the squad and spent most of his later career injured.
The same happened with Wayne Rooney. He was selected far too early, and while he was great to start with, but he was a shadow of his former self in the later years. I believe this is because they were blooded far too early. Their respective clubs saw a prospect and pushed them too much too soon, and the end result is that they were burned out when they should have been in their prime. The same thing cannot be allowed to happen to Foden, so give him time to adapt, he will be a first team regular before long.
Top of the league
With Liverpool’s 100% start, it was all down to City to keep the pressure on them, and a win against Brighton would send the blues top of the league. City beat a defensive Seagulls to replace Liverpool at the top, and when the Reds drew with Chelsea, it meant the blues will go to Anfield next Sunday as league leaders.
Despite having 80% possession, the blues found it difficult to put the game to bed, although some, okay practically all of the credit for that has to go to the Brighton defence. They came here to stop us scoring and for long stretches, they achieved it. There was barely any intention from the visitors to even try and score, and Ederson would have been forgiven for getting a deckchair out and reading a good book!
Two wonderfully crafted goals undid Brighton, with the second from Aguero leaving the viewers speechless. It was a brilliant goal, which showed the skill and awareness of the team. Sterling didn’t really need to look to know where Aguero would be; all he had to do was put it there and the Argentine would finish it off. Talking of Sterling, he is still receiving a lot of criticism, and I’ve noticed some coming from the fans. Not a huge amount, but enough to feel the need to comment on it.
The young England man is yet to commit to a new contract, despite talks ongoing, and Sterling has made no secret of his desire to one day play abroad. But we have to be patient with him; it’s no good getting on his back just because he won’t put pen to paper at the moment. The only thing that will accomplish is driving him out of the club.
But in fairness, if he wants to play abroad, who are we really to stop him doing that? Of course we want him to stay, but he wants to experience playing in Spain or Italy, France or Germany, who are we to stand in his way? Of course we want him to stay, but it won’t be the end of the world if he leaves.
A Look Ahead
On Tuesday, City travel to Hoffenheim in the Champions League, hoping to secure their first win in this season’s competition, and put the misery of their defeat to Lyon behind them. We’ll be here with all the build up from tomorrow, and a live blog on Tuesday.
Then Sunday sees the top of the table clash as the blues travel to Anfield to face Liverpool. City lost twice at Anfield last season, and they will be eager to gain a measure of revenge and inflict a first defeat on the reds this season.