I know that people looking at the headline might be thinking that I am out of my mind. I mean City have just played one friendly against Girona and nothing more. To be honest, I have not taken anything from the Girona game to come up with this statement about City’s sharpness. In contrast, my keen observation has been on Pep’s body language and the way he is speaking at press conferences. I have also been looking at our practice sessions and the way Pep is trying to drill certain tactics into certain players. All round you can sense positive vibes around the team
Each player has a point to prove
It gets very interesting when you look at the resumption of the season from the perspective of various players. There are players coming back with the disappointment of not fulfilling their world cup dreams. On the other hand there are players like Grealish who have not been utilized in any significant way for England. On top of that news is circulating regarding his future. He is said to be the player who will make way for Jude Bellingham
When you flip things around, you get players like Haaland who would have surely been running out of patience for the season to resume. Julian Alvarez meanwhile would be expecting to start most of our big games due to his world cup performance. The positive thing is that each of our players have their reason to be very hungry and resume the season in the way City generally do in December.
Tactical tweaks are inevitable
When you give Pep Guardiola a break, you would bet that he will utilize most of it on thinking about making his system more efficient. On top of this add that defeat to Brentford before the break. Surely, Pep would have had at least a few nightmares thinking about the way City were hit on the counter that day. Brentford was not a game in isolation where we were beaten by a team sitting back and breaking on us. You look at the early goals conceded to Palace and the draw against Newcastle. There is a certain template developing there.
The return of Walker would solve most of the problems we face against counter attacking teams. But, the genius of Pep is that he always wants to find out the reason behind the counter attack happening in the first place. He is a proactive manager and that is the reason for his tremendous impact on the game. I would not be surprised if he plays Kalvin Phillips more against teams that have extremely pacy attackers. It would also not be a surprise to see a double pivot of Rodri and Kalvin Phillips against deep defenses. This would give Kevin De Bruyne more freedom to break the low block
Overall, it looks like an interesting resumption of the season for City. We will see certain new tactical instructions infused into our game play. For me, the interesting bit will be the combinations of players Pep will chose for certain games. This is even more important due to the tight schedule that doesn’t give a moment to breathe. Pep will have to get his combinations right, other wise we might fall behind in this title race even further.