It’s always foolish to draw too many conclusions about a team after just a couple of games, but one thing is for sure, Manchester City look like a side reborn after beating Chelsea 3-0 yesterday afternoon. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho meant that City were well and truly deserved winners on the day. Here is a look at the main talking points from the game.
With the opening of the newly expanded Etihad Stadium a record crowd (for the Stadium) of 54,331 turned up to roar the team. The combination of the electric atmosphere, quite unlike many other occasions at the Etihad, and the superb performance of the team seemed to be a perfect marriage. Here was team in a hurry to lay down a marker. Indeed, Aguero could have easily put City ahead within a minute, as Silva played him through on goal after 10 seconds.
What is abundantly clear is the collective mentality of the team has improved no end. Whereas last season the team lacked fight and often looked lethargic, this time around they look fast, decisive and willing to put everything on the line to help each other. Yaya Toure looks revitalised after a vital summer rest, Vincent Kompany is seemingly on a personal crusade to find his form and Eliaquim Mangala is beginning to consistently justify why City shelled out all of that money for him a year ago. Raheem Sterling, although not quite hitting his best form yet, is giving City a fresh edge to their attacks and the benefits of his presence team are obvious. I could do on. In some respects, it is futile to single out individuals for praise after a performance like yesterday as there were so many good ones. Pellegrini said after the game that, “These players are hungry and angry. Now they want to win every game.” If the first two games are anything to go by, you can tell.
Many City fans will have known it for some time, but after yesterday’s performance there can be no doubt that Aguero is the best centre-forward in the league. Bearing in mind he is not fully match fit, his performance could have yielded a hat-trick in the first half alone, which is pretty remarkable. Chelsea’s defence is renowned for its strength but the little Argentine made them look amateurish on multiple occasions. Only Asmir Begovic came out of the game with any credit for Chelsea given the number of saves he made to deny the City striker. John Terry’s substitution at half time spoke volumes about the problems that Aguero was causing for them.
Diego Costa is supposedly Kun’s closest rival in the striking department in England, but with both players on the same pitch yesterday, the disparity between the two was alarming. The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor summed it up perfectly in his post-match report when he said “Aguero spent the match trying to find a legitimate way past the Chelsea defence, always looking for space and an opportunity to draw back his shooting foot. Costa, on the other hand, seemed entirely preoccupied with winning free-kicks, throwing his hands in the air in barely plausible outrage and trying to pick fights that, for the most part, were only in his imagination.” It was not as if Costa wasn’t involved in the play either: Chelsea dominated the ball for most of the second half and could have fashioned more decent chances given how close they were to City’s eighteen yard box. We’ve seen it before where Costa has been a menace in such situations, but not yesterday. The difference in mentality told in the end as City were the team trying to score goals whereas Chelsea were merely a functional team that seemingly didn’t have the capability to hold out for draw or muster up enough opportunities in front of goal to seriously worry City.
The Bigger Picture
No doubt City fans across the land will be enjoying yesterday’s result, and rightly so, but it is important to not get too carried away. City have laid down a marker and have already built up a five point advantage over the defending champions. City fans will know too well after last season that constantly trying to close a gap is difficult and, as such, our current standing should not be sniffed at. That said, there are 36 games left and no doubt many twists and turns lie in wait, but for the meantime, enjoy it. That’s what it is all about, after all.
And what about Chelsea? Well, Jose Mourinho said it was a “fake” result, so what do I know? He has always been a detestable character and his levels are bitterness in defeat are outrageous. At least Ramires thought he had scored for about 30 seconds despite 54,000 other people cottoning on almost as soon as the linesman raised his flag for offside. The poor git.
Written by Robert Toole