Manchester City marked a return to competitive football with a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Arsenal. Although the joy of the triumph to kick off the Premier League restart was tainted by the serious injury to Eric Garcia, it was still a good day in the office. That was accentuated by the following five positives.
1. Raheem Sterling Scores for the First Time in 2020
The Englishman has been instrumental to Pep Guardiola’s achievements in the Premier League and English football as a whole for the last two seasons. His 18 goals and 11 assists in 33 league appearances in the 2017/18 campaign played a key role in the Citizens emerging champions. He was at it again last term notching 17 goals while laying on 10 assists in 34 outings to help City retain the crown.
Having started this term in brilliant fashion, he took the foot off the pedal after netting 11 times to close off 2019. For three months of football in 2020, he could not find the back of the net. Naturally, it became a concern. But he marked the return to the pitch against arsenal with a well-taken goal. His strike opened the flood gates as City rolled over an injury-hit Arsenal in a largely one-sided encounter.
Speaking after the game, Sterling revealed he has been looking forward to the end of the dry spell.
“It’s something I’ve beat myself up about.
“But I knew at some point I’d get an opportunity I just needed to take it. That’s what I’ve done today.”
2. Kevin De Bruyne as Influential as Ever
Speaking of opportunity, there was one man at the centre of creating it. It’s the usual suspect - Kevin De Bruyne. The mesmerizing midfielder did not start the game in blistering form. But he grew into it as did the team. It wasn’t long before he was spraying passes and bringing his teammates into the game. Unsurprisingly, it took one of his trademark long passes to create the chance for the first goal.
The Belgian is battling the Premier League to restore his assist after it was chalked off having bounced off David Luiz’s thigh on its way through to Sterling.
3. Eric Garcia Ready for a Starting Role
Despite coming off worse after a collision with Ederson, Garcia had made his mark on the match. Displaying maturity and confidence on the ball, the young Spaniard continues to show why Guardiola has so much faith in him. For such a young player to be able to hold the experienced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ransom, preventing the Arsenal striker from having a foothold in the game speaks volumes about his quality.
Suffice to say, he has proved his readiness for a starting berth even in the big games.
4. Phil Foden on the Up
Phil Foden’s quality has never been in doubt. But the young Englishman is showing exactly why. Despite starting the game from the bench, he came in deep into the second half and gave a good account of himself. The 20-year-old capped off a good performance with a goal to seal the win against Mikel Arteta’s side.
Sure, David Silva is on his way out. But Foden is showing why “El Mago” will not be missed too much.
5. Sharpness Will Take Some Time
It was a bit strange to see Manchester City getting dominated by Arsenal in the early exchanges. But then as the game progressed, City picked up the pace and began to click. Yet, it’s clear that after several months of not playing together, the players will need some time to regain their sharpness. Some good chances were missed in the game that will otherwise be buried.
Aguero could not believe it as he ballooned the ball wide when he was through on goal in the closing stages. Surely, the Argentine will do better in subsequent matches.
6. Ederson Pulls Off New Trick
Ederson could have definitely done better than brutally take out his teammate the way he did while trying to clear the ball. Communication is key here. A shout could have definitely alerted Garcia to his approach allowing the teenager to give way and escape such a horrific collision. That said, it was an accident. I do believe the Brazilian goalkeeper should show more concern about his teammate’s well-being than to be chatting and laughing when the young man is on the ground struggling for dear life.
Is that the new trick?
Of course not.
Did you see how the long balls from the shot-stopper led directly to goals?
Perhaps he should be trying them more often, especially in difficult games.