Manchester City added yet another tool to the arsenal: Winning ugly
Image Via: Flickr/Alfonso Jiminez. Used under Creative Commons.
Manchester City played some stunning football last season, on their way to blitzing the Premier League and winning their first Premier League title under Pep Guardiola.
This term, the competition looks far fiercer. Liverpool are posing a serious threat, while Chelsea are secretly going about their business. The bad news? City look just as good if not better than 2017/18. At this stage, they've scored more goals, earned more points and conceded less from the corresponding fixtures when compared to the last campaign. They've also added another tool to the arsenal; winning ugly.
Against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday night, the match was supposed to be a spectacle. Two attacking teams were apparently to go toe-to-toe with each other for ninety minutes in an exciting encounter. Instead, one goal was scored, by Riyad Mahrez. The game itself was somewhat poor in quality. Sure, the poor state of the pitch didn't help proceedings, but The Citizens did what needed to be done. They picked up a hard-fought three points that moved them back to the table-top.
It was three points that, come the season's end, could potentially be a deciding factor in where the Premier League trophy ends up. The old saying, winning when you're not playing well, immediately springs to mind. City were efficient, they made tactical fouls when they needed to, they limited the number of chances that Spurs had. It was a professional display, it was a game in which they were always in control of without really getting out of third gear.
City haven't conceded in almost ten hours of Premier League football. That's impressive considering they've played both Spurs and Liverpool in that time. What's even scarier is that they're yet to ship a goal scored by a striker or a midfielder this season. Goals from open play for the opposition are hard to come by. Their only real 'weakness' (and I use that term lightly), is set pieces. As they say, the best form of attack is a solid defence.
Not only will Guardiola's men score goals for fun. They've tightened up at the back without investing in that area of the field over the summer. It just further proves what a brilliant manager Guardiola is. His coaching techniques, his teaching, his sheer genius is slowly but surely rubbing off on the squad. Having Benjamin Mendy back from injury definitely helps somewhat, but even then, I'd argue that Fabian Delph was probably a better defender than his French counterpart.
For the Premier League big-boys, this spells bad news. Guardiola's working his magic once again. As was the case at FC Barcelona, his team is getting better year-on-year. I wouldn't bet against another title heading to The Etihad when next May rolls around, while a solid case can be made for the Champions League trophy also heading to the blue half of Manchester... It really is exciting times for the City faithful, they've certainly come a long way since the 1999 Second Division play-off final penalty win against Gillingham at Wembley... Their fans are in absolute dreamland.