As the final whistle echoed through the sweeping rain at the Etihad, Pep Guardiola breathed a huge sigh of relief. He knew that any points dropped here would severely dent the confidence of the team heading into a busy festive period where the fixtures come faster than a swarm of bees from a disturbed hive.
The Curious case of Pep playing with a Pivot!
Playing with 2 defensive midfielders against top teams who are a threat on the counter is understandable, but Pep these days seems to prefer the pivot in all of the matches. What makes this even harder to understand is the fact that city now have 2 top class centerbacks who are very much comfortable defending one on ones and have decent pace to get back. Pep had not put a pivot even when city were struggling on counters with Otamendi at the back, but something seems to have turned this season. The champions league defeats seem to have really got on to pep and I think that pep now looks at the pivot as the way to conquer Europe’s Premier Prize. Also, I think that pep realizes that Rodri is not as mobile as Fernandinho and that extra bit of steel is necessary, specially against big opponents. Playing a pivot in all of these matches could be to build the necessary chemistry in the team for big European nights All of these seem to be pointing towards Pep taking the Champions League extra seriously this season.
Gundogan bossed the Midfield
Gundogan seems to have come alive this season, he already has 4 goals and he is making great runs forward into the box. His attacking intent is refreshing to see in a team that is struggling for goals and is more aligned towards maintaining their defensive stability. The interesting thing is that Gundogan is taking the responsibility to dictate play from the deep, thus relieving Rodri and allowing him to focus on the defensive side of things. Gundogan deserves a lot of credit for City’s clean sheets, he knits the play together and also makes those intelligent fouls that Fernandinho used to make and thus he breaks down a lot of attacks even before they develop. This was one of the most sublime performances for city in the middle of the Park this season. Since David Silva had left, no one controlled the midfield like Gundogan did today.
Excellent Cancelo shows why he one of the World’s best
Cancelo is an attacking full back like no other in World football, he is better than most wingers in world football. The way he played that ball to Sterling to open up Newcastle’s defense for the first goal was sublime. He played in central midfield more often than not in the first half and looked right at home. His runs and crosses into the box were a continuous menace for Newcastle and in all fairness he should have had a hat-trick of Assists. All of his balls into the box were spot on today and his positional sense was excellent. His understanding with Sterling was one of th major reasons why Newcastle struggled to defend well. Sometimes sterling would hold the width and Cancelo would make those runs Inside and on some occasions the reverse would happen. At some moments, Cancelo would drift into the midfield. All of these movements were too much for Newcastle to deal with. They simply did not know whom to mark. It was being said in the summer that Cancelo should be sold and he will never be able to settle down and play Pep’s style of football. Cancelo is showing that he is probably one of the most versatile full backs in the world. He could even play as a winger. This shows that we should be patient before judging any player, specially a player who is coming from a foreign country. Cancelo is finally showing the beast of a player he is and I think he is among the top 5 full backs in the world at the moment.
City can’t afford to relax in this Grueling title race
City have dropped too many points from winning positions this season. The fact that we have drawn 5 matches already and lost a couple more, highlights the fact that we cannot afford to relax any more. Every game is like a cup final for us and we need to be up for it if we want to chase down and put up a fight with Liverpool. People have been saying that City have lost their sharpness and will struggle to even get into the top two this season. We are a sleeping giant and we are slowly waking up, its just a matter of time until we start firing on all cylinders and take the league by storm. I think the return of Aguero to full fitness and the way he looked sharp in all of his movements and link up play is an indication to the league that we are up and running. The monster has woken up. It is now the turn of all the other teams in the league to be frightened and run for cover.