Manchester City played host to newly promoted side, Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night at the Etihad. And what a game it was for the blues as City panned the opposition in a one-sided show.
Before the City highlights, let’s just take a moment to RIP Forest. I had said this week that they will prove to be tough opposition after they ran rings around Spurs, but just couldn’t come up with the goods.
They had played some good, energetic and quick-passing football, which was entertaining as a neutral that would have loved to see them stick it to Spurs. However, it was a different performance entirely at the Etihad.
Forest lacked ambition, aggression, and inspiration. Perhaps that was the gameplan, to sit back and play as little football as possible. Or could it be the downside to making 19 signings in one summer?
The Forest fans admirably continued to give it some welly, putting in a more respectable performance than the team they sang for.
Nevertheless, when the blues are in the mood for total domination, it would understandably be intimidating for a newly promoted team away from home.
Manchester City had a starting XI of Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo, Rodri, Gundogan (c), Bernardo, Foden, Alvarez and Haaland.
Walker was back in his ‘right’ful place, which brought a much-desired balance back to the system, allowing Cancelo to bounce forward down the left with more freedom, releasing Foden to pick up pockets of space around the box.
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With the backline balanced, the midfield was tight, and Rodri had his business covered. Interestingly, he seemed to be producing more “tactical fouls” than in previous games, something we have missed since Ferna’s departure.
These fouls prevented Forest from any rare counter attacking opportunities, allowing the team to get back and stay in control of the tempo of the game.
Despite a 10/10 team performance, there were some outstanding performances from Stones, Alvarez and Haaland the hat-trick hero.
During the week Rodri said:
"“We understand people doubt sometimes. But we know the player he is and what he came from. He needs three touches to score, he’s incredible. It is tough in that position because we are used to playing with a false nine that moves a lot. We have him as a reference who doesn’t move much. He needs to adapt. His natural talent makes the difference but he needs to do better at being involved in the game; when to come, drop, go to space. It’s normal, we’ve just been together for one month.”"
Haaland appeared to take this on board as he dropped deep, defended and tracked back to win the ball. Linking up well with the creative players around the box. An excellent performance all round – Pep would have been delighted.
City’s first goal came in the 12th minute after Foden glided the ball towards the near post, as Haaland beat the Forest defender to the ball to open the scoring.
The second goal just 11 minutes later in the 23rd minute, created by Foden again, who burst into the box, surrounded by defenders, and managed to slip it to Haaland for the tap in.
Another assist for John Stones when he leapt into the air like a salmon to head it on into the path of Haaland who jumped about 10ft in the air to bag his hat-trick – jump up, jump up and get down. JUMP, JUMP! Anyway…
Just 5 minutes after the break, Bernardo played Cancelo in, who whipped the ball magically past Henderson from 20 yards out and put the blues four up on 50 minutes.
Alvarez was here, there, and everywhere. He never stopped running unless it was to score a goal. 85 minutes on the clock and he was chasing down the ball like Paul Scholes chases toes.
He deserved his goals, the first of which came on the 65th minute, his first Premier League goal. His second on 87 minutes a sweet strike right into the top of the net from 10 yards out, making it 6-0 to the blues by fulltime.
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Manchester City continue to sit second in the Premier League table after Arsenal beat Aston Villa 2-1. Another defeat for Villa, which is where the blues travel next on Saturday for the later kick off.
Can we make it three wins in a row? Can Haaland make it three hat-tricks in a row? I can’t wait to find out