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The curious case of Manchester City rolls on into another Tuesday night, and even still, none of us know what they’re about. There were glimpses of them being back to their old selves against Burnley, but relying on a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick isn’t really the new wave of Citeh we expected to be challenging Liverpool for league honours this year.
In a way, it felt like a throwback. Walloping Burnley 5-0 is peak Pep and Co from 2018 and the nature of the goals felt similar – a full-back and a young kid completing the rout. But, if this is to continue from here, it’s all momentum.
Never underestimate the importance of it, especially in the middle of a truncated season that will have fixtures every couple of days. Luckily for Pep, he can preach slightly more than just ‘keep it up’ for this, as not only did Porto take the lead against City at Eastlands, they’re also only three points behind them and could easily win the group if they turn them here.
I suspect we’re about to see City find their gear, and in the home country of players that need to produce more this season to properly meet their hefty price – Bernardo Silva, Cancelo and Ruben Dias – there’s no better stage is there? Here’s your three best bets.
I know Burnley’s only conceivable outball is a wallop up the pitch to Chris Wood, and I understand that with no support players behind him to win second balls, as he was effectively taken out of the game by Sean Dyche’s selection.
However, City looked balanced for the first time in over a year. What I mean by that is, City could go from 0-60 in little or no time at all. They were clever in when they attacked; seeking the opposition full backs to tuck in ever-so-slightly too much and then switching play.
If you want an example, look at Mendy’s goal. It’s As good as you’ll see all season, I promise you.
They’re the ominous signs that Liverpool don’t want to see, and if they continue that trend here, a comfortable tie against Fulham at the weekend is the perfect pillow to land on if the intensity is high in Porto.
He’s the third best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. Unfortunately for everyone else around him, he may get whipped off when the job is done, but he starts when City need something and he’ll be doing the exact same thing here.
Not only does he now possess a monopoly on set pieces, he’s also occasionally thrown on the edge of the D for corners instead of taking them, affording even more opportunity to take aim in situations where he’s got space. Look at how big the pitch is in Porto. See where I’m coming from?
It’s the killer instinct that Guardiola craves again. This is the best possible way to show that the players on the pitch are the ones willing to carry that out.
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