Well 24 hours have passed since Manchester City’s massive 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates. A potentially season defining moment for Manchester City in a huge fixture that had been anticipated for what felt like months now once the game was postponed pre the World Cup.
City came to the Emirates knowing a win would be massive and could potentially shape the rest of the season. A loss to Arsenal and falling 6 points behind with Arsenal having a game in hand would’ve nearly felt like a death blow to City’s title bid.
This isn’t a game review as such, more a look at what was learnt out of the massive game at the Emirates.
Guardiola again went in with the back three, this time with Dias, Ake & Walker slotting in, with Bernardo Silva slotting in at left back when required. It’s a credit to Bernardo that he did a admirable job marking Saka, who on his day is capable of tearing any defence apart.
Bernardo did play on the edge, as he does when he’s at his best and was probably fortunate not to get booked earlier then he did. Bernardo the past two games has looked like himself again, and playing any role required for the team seems to be something he thrives in.
He’s been a crucial player in the past few seasons and seems to be stepping up again at the most crucial time of the season.
It wasn’t a coincidence around the hour mark when Guardiola hooked a largely ineffectual Mahrez and bought on Manuel Akanji and reverted to a back 4 of Walker at right back, Dias, Akanji and Nathan Ake at left back that Manchester City took over the game the last half hour.
City’s pressing the last half hour caused Arsenal all sorts of issues when they had possession, especially when they were playing out from the back. It directly resulted in Manchester City’s second and third goals, forcing mistakes out of Arsenal.
The return of the pressing that symbolises any Pep Guardiola side is a welcome sight for what comes and does look like Manchester City are awakening from the slumber that marred the past months performances.
Erling Haaland finally looked more involved in play, and I thought it was his best game for Manchester City, especially considering the stakes.
Haaland provided a outlet for City’s defence and gave Saliba and Gabriel fits for 90 minutes. He didn’t give them a moment’s rest, and was unfortunate not to earn a penalty by being caught marginally offside in the build up in the 58th minute.
Erling deserved his goal that came in the 82nd minute off yet another Kevin De Bruyne assist. Haaland’s first touch and finish on his right foot were a great reward for his performance, and the mark of the quality Haaland possesses.
That brings him up to 32 goals in 30 Manchester City appearances, for me the goal was just the icing on the cake with the performance he put in.
Jack Grealish got the second goal, and continued his great form post the World Cup. Jack has been outstanding of late, and it was great to see him rewarded with such a crucial goal.
Jack has stated he wants to score more in big games, he started by scoring in the derby, but to add such a crucial goal in a game with such high stakes will give Jack yet another confidence boost on top of his great recent form.
He’s becoming one of the first picked for Pep Guardiola and it’s a credit to Jack after all the criticism he’s received during his time at Manchester City.
Kevin De Bruyne again was immense, and is starting to become the Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City and football fans all know after some recent patchy form, and a sub par World Cup from King Kev.
His goal was something he and not many other footballers can produce. A moment of magic on his left foot after a massive Arsenal defensive mistake.
We all know how crucial De Bruyne is to Manchester City, and has been in the past but his recent performances have shown he is returning to his peak performances again. A welcome sight for all Manchester City fans.
Also a touch line spat with Mikel Arteta seemed to spark De Bruyne, something needs to be done about Arteta’s behaviour on the touch line, as it’s a matter of time before it sparks something a lot bigger than a push and a point.
Ruben Dias has returned to the starting line up the past two games against Aston Villa and now Arsenal. For me it’s no coincidence Manchester City have started to resemble themselves again with Dias leadership back in the starting 11.
He’s had a rotten run with injury and some poor form but to see him leading the defence and flying in for crucial tackles and blocks. It’s a welcome sight as I feel Dias’ leadership is vital to Manchester City and what comes for the rest of the season.
Arsenal did dominate possession, with Manchester City’s 36% possession one of the lowest figures of possession for Manchester City in recent memory.
Whilst Arsenal dictated possession I thought City held them up well, and restricted Arsenal to few chances besides Saka’s penalty and two missed headers from Eddie Nketiah.
It does seem that Manchester City are returning to their best defensively, but would be a welcome sight if the clean sheets returned with the pressing and desperation in defence.
Onto Nottingham Forest away this weekend, a massive game with Forest fighting for their Premier League status.
It looms as a tough test as Forest have been playing some nice football and grinding out much needed results.
No game is easy in the Premier League especially after a 2 day break, but with Arsenal playing in the early kick off it could be a chance to build a lead at the top of the table, or maintain pace with Arsenal at the top who haven’t won in 4 games in all competitions.
A Champions League second round tie away to RB Leipzig comes after the Forest game so the peak time of the season is about to begin.
After such a massive win against Arsenal and Manchester City returning to the summit of the Premier League it’s a road Manchester City know well and look poised to build upon a season defining win over Arsenal.