City eased to a 5-1 win over Bournemouth despite a lengthy injury list - but what were the factors behind the victory?
Wilfried Bony has not had much luck since his January arrival, with the usually robust forward suffering a string of nagging injuries. With Sergio Aguero out with a hamstring strain, the Ivorian should enjoy a run in the side now and two goals against Bournemouth will allow him to go forward with confidence. He had a hand in the opener, converted a sharp chance for his first before a lovely roll and finish for his second. There was even time for some crowd-pleasing tricks and flicks – encouraging stuff.
Boss Manuel Pellegrini was clear when the Club invested in Raheem Sterling that he was an excellent player – and one with great potential. That has been borne out by the first part of the new season, with mixed performances like that against Newcastle followed by Saturday’s hat-trick. His low centre of gravity and mazy runs are a defender’s nightmare, and when he adds goals to the mix he is a player of the highest calibre. Playing with someone of the efficiency and creativity of Kevin De Bruyne can only help Sterling, too.
You expect a 5-1 win to be full of free-flowing, unstoppable football, but that wasn’t always the feeling at the Etihad Stadium at the weekend. That might not be a total surprise though given the extent of City’s injury list, with no recognised left-back and a team affected by a punishing internationals schedule. The bottom line, though, was another five-goal haul to make it 11 in two games. City’s goal difference is already seven better than their closest rivals and a testament to the depth of Pellegrini’s squad.
Although City have been scoring for fun, the early season run of clean sheets is proving more elusive. It has been seven games since the last shut-out and in the Champions League, where the finest of margins often decide games, City need to be at their meanest. That isn't to say the defensive performance was weak against the Cherries. Eliaquim Mangala has an air of power about him now and Nicolas Otamendi is proving an all-action addition to the squad. Ahead of the Sevilla game skipper Vincent Kompany will surely come back into contention, perhaps the return of the captain could be the difference?
Young striker Kelechi Iheanacho provided more evidence of his ice-cool finishing skills in his cameo. His injury-time strike – ruled out in a marginal offside call – spoke of a player completely at ease in a one-on-one situation up front. As a player he is all about goals. That isn’t to say there is more to his game, but Kelechi is a striker in the true sense of the word. Give him the chance and he will do damage.
City continue their Champions League campaign against last season’s Europa League winners Sevilla on Wed 21 Oct at 7.45pm. Make sure you’re there to support the team. Buy your tickets now Adults from £25 and U16s £5.
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Show your support for City U19s who also face Sevilla, on the same day as the first team, in the UEFA Youth League. Kick-off is 5pm at the Academy Stadium. Tickets available now; Cityzens can redeem a free match ticket for this fixture now and non-Cityzens can purchase tickets.