Raheem Sterling’s second minute header guided Manchester City to a staggering 18th win in a row. It’s a victory which maintains their 10 point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
It was a gritty, hard-fought performance from the Blues, with maybe one eye on the important Champions League Round of 16 first leg in midweek. The first 20 minutes were electric, but it was Raheem Sterling’s flicked header from a Riyad Mahrez cross that broke the deadlock.
After yet another win, here’s five things we learned from the game…
Ruben x John are the partnership for big games
Want to start this point by saying I have absolutely nothing against Aymeric Laporte – he’s a terrific footballer. But I just get this air of solidity whenever John Stones and Ruben Dias are partnered at the heart of the defence.
Again on Sunday, Arsenal’s front line never got a meaningful chance. Dias was even involved in the build up to the goal, playing a brilliant cross-field ball to Riyad Mahrez. The Portuguese international was rightly awarded MoTM by Sky Sports and I don’t suppose John Stones will have been far behind him.
Fernandinho rolling back the years
It was maybe a surprise to see Fernandinho on the team-sheet yesterday after a string of imperious performances from his positional counterpart, Rodri. However, the Brazilian still showed, even at 35-years-old, he’s still got immense quality.
If City’s forward line were not as wasteful, Fernandinho would’ve had a hand in a number of goals yesterday. Typical from him, cutting any Arsenal danger out at source and starting a counter attack of our own on numerous occasions.
Oh please Ferna, just sign an extension.
There’s not really many negatives to take from winning your 18th game in a row to be honest, but missing lots of chances could be one to address.
I bring this up because with the Champions League up next, Guardiola will no doubt hammer the importance of being clinical to his players. After the first goal yesterday, the Blues could’ve easily been 3-0 up by the half hour mark if they took their clear cut opportunities. Mix that in with late chances for Joao Cancelo and Gabriel Jesus and it’s a recipe for disaster in a knockout competition.
Pep says rotation is key
One key thing to pick up post match is Pep Guardiola’s comments about rotation. He said; “People talk about the records but to do that you have to win games like this many, many, many, many times. We don’t have time to do anything, just recover and prepare mentally as strong as possible as a team.”
He also mentioned he’ll have to change players for the game midweek and then again for West Ham next Saturday. Even today, the brilliant Phil Foden was given a well earned rest and you’d expect him to return in midweek with the hectic schedule. The likes of Aymeric Laporte, Kyle Walker and Ferran Torres will all be important for Manchester City as they still look to compete on all four fronts.
18 in a row
Remarkable, truly remarkable. If it didn’t already, surely this run rivals the one we put together to win the title in 18/19. 18 wins in a row in all competitions, in a season like this, is a brilliant achievement.
In that run we’ve beaten Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal twice. From as low as 13th in the table in early November, City have managed to create a 10 point gap at the top of the table – and they’ve shown no signs of slowing down.
Source: Sports Illustrated