There was plenty to like about the football played by Manchester City over the past week. On Saturday both the men and women put their Premier League opposition to the sword. Then, yesterday, the men were in action in the first game of their Carabao Cup defence, completing a total of 18 goals scored by all three sides recently. Plenty to talk about, then, in the latest Manchester City manifesto.
Manchester City Manifesto
City Hit Hornets for Eight
Watford must have known they were in for it in Manchester City’s first Premier League game since losing away to Norwich City. In their last game against City, Watford conceded six goals in the FA Cup final, but when they stepped onto the field at the Etihad they had already lost the game, and there was really no sign of life throughout.
Even with a pulse, it would’ve been hard for Watford to do anything against Kevin De Bruyne on Saturday. The Belgian has absolutely started this season at his best once again and in a slightly different role. When he is on the field with David Silva, De Bruyne has been deployed as one half of a double pivot midfield with Rodrigo.
It’s really the perfect position for De Bruyne. He doesn’t have to run all over the field, though he will end up doing that because he likes to. What he does have to do is ping balls all over the field, controlling forward possession for the team. As the play moves between defence and attack, more often than not the ball is going to find De Bruyne.
Once it finds him, it’s virtually game over, just as Watford found out. He’s already picked up eight assists in six starts for City this season, far more than the two he had all of last year. His ability in transition has set him so far apart from every other midfielder in the world to start this season.
Carabao Cup Defence Begins
Manchester City’s midweek fixture was more of the ‘take care of business’ variety. They are always supposed to beat Preston North End, no matter where it is or who is playing. These games are a valuable opportunity for City’s young players and fringe squad members to be tested early on.
They passed this one with flying colours. It started in defence where Pep named a back four of Joao Cancelo, Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Eric Garcia and Angelino. The four of them have never played together and could’ve easily struggled on the road at a dogged Championship team like Preston.
Everyone knows Eric Garcia is one for the future. The former Barcelona youth player has been dazzling since coming and has already been dubbed one of the best future centre-backs, but if you didn’t know already, Taylor Harwood-Bellis is just as good. City think he’s the real deal, and so does the England national set-up too. Some of you may remember him as the captain of England’s U17 World Cup-winning side.
The other breakout star from that U17 World Cup was Phil Foden, and the attacking midfielder got another 90-minute chance against Preston, but this was not a performance that he will remember when he retires. However, the Englishman did produce the best chance of the second half when he hit the bar from the edge of the box.
Beyond that shot, Foden was not involved very much. He completed the least amount of passes of anyone on the pitch for the full 90 minutes, and that is a concern. In his position, basically the David Silva position, he is supposed to be one of the focal points of the attack, but City found more success by bypassing him and having Raheem Sterling or Gabriel Jesus dribble at the defence.
Foden did well covering his position but it would’ve been nice to see something more from him going forward. We did get to see some good play from Joao Cancelo in this game. The Portuguese international’s first start for City was a solid one. He showed some nice interplay with his international teammate Bernardo Silva and there is certainly more to come on this front.
Manchester City Women
The Womens’ team also got started on their Continental Cup defence with a 5-0 thumping of Leicester City. The part-time side are over 20 places behind Manchester City in the women’s football pyramid, but it was hard to tell on Saturday. For most of the first, half City couldn’t break down Leicester’s resolute defence.
Eventually, Caroline Weir got on the end of a lovely ball from Laura Coombs, rounded the keeper and broke the deadlock. Weir has been outstanding to start this season, and she had two goals in this game to add to her rocket from the Manchester Derby.
After she got the girls going, Pauline Bremer got her own brace before Tessa Wulleart completed the 5-0 win. City’s win against Leicester sets up a truly mouthwatering tie next month against Manchester United.
In the meantime, the women have a game tonight against Lugano in the Women’s Champions League. It’s the second leg after City hammered Lugano 7-1 in Switzerland 10 days ago.