Pep Talk 32: Positives from Manchester City’s 0-3 win at Arsenal

Honestly, Man City beating Arsenal should not count for anything above the ordinary. City had beaten Arsenal the last six times they had faced before today, pumping in 14 goals. Arsenal themselves didn’t win any Premier League game for two months between 7 Oct to 7 Dec and their player of the month for November 2019 was Bernd Leno – a goalkeeper who incidentally didn’t have any clean sheet to show for that period.

Leno was Arsenal’s best player tonight too, alongside Callum Chambers. Take these two out and ManCity would have handed a tennis scoreline defeat to the Gunners, than a 0-3. Kevin De Bruyne was denied a hat-trick by a brilliant Leno save. The Belgian and his team-mates had a happy day otherwise though.

The big positives today were…

  • Manchester City got their first clean sheet in seven games. This came more as a relief than as a crown. As early as the 30th second, it seemed yet another team would breach the ManCity defence. That shot from Gabriel Martinelli turned out to be Arsenal’s only shot on target before the Blues ran out to take a three goal lead.
  • Sandwiched around the Manchester Derby loss, City actually now have had three good games vs Burnley, vs Dinamo Zagreb and vs Arsenal. City took pedal off the gas in the second half tonight as they strolled their way, protecting the lead, and more importantly, avoiding injuries.
  • In the 16th min, the commentator said “No one plays more beautiful football than this team in this division”..they might as well as have added, “in Europe”.
  • At stroke of half time, the commentators said: “Manchester City are playing football from another planet”. and later added “How could this team be 17 points behind any team is beyond imagination and within bewilderment.”
  • Manchester City won the game at the Emirates Stadium today without Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte, David Silva and John Stones. Hence Olexandr Zincheko making a comeback from injury was one big positive.
  • Phil Foden started two consecutive games, something which Pep should have been doing from a long ago. Foden had a terrific outing in the first half and had a hand in two of the goals. His defensive and ball recovery skills suffered in the second half though, that resulted in his early substitution. It’s his desire that stands out, compared to some of his team-mates, who have looked flat this season in the Premier League games.
  • A Fernandinho master pass to Gabriel Jesus was key to the opening goal. The more I see Manchester City play Fernandinho out of position, the more I miss his key passes in midfield. But Pep can’t help it, cause Fernandinho has been City’s best defender this season. He was, as usual, very solid tonight.
  • Speaking of defence, Nicolas Otamendi had a good game after a long time. This could be his last season at the Etihad and his fighting qualities were again seen (first time this season)…I may add from the time he entered the field and scored in the derby defeat.
  • Kevin De Bruyne ran the show tonight and currently looks the most motivated player in the Sky Blues camp. He seems to have taken it on himself, for the number of games he missed last season due to injury, to make up for the lost time, and be the key driver in this team. My only regret was that I didn’t make him my Fantasy League captain this weekend!
  • This season’s big Manchester City signing, Rodri, had a superb night out… and was a delight to watch. He is probably the best player on earth in short passing. I sometimes feel Pep needs to give a break to some of the seniors and field a different eleven for the upcoming Christmas period games. Ederson – Cancelo, Otamendi, Garcia/Stones, Zinchenko – Rodri Fernandinho Gundogan/Foden – Sterling Jesus De Bruyne. This would be my lineup and if nothing, it will be a more solid team.
  • Manchester City are now comfortably placed third in the Premier League Table (six points ahead of Chelsea) , Top of their Champions League Group and await Oxford for their League Cup (Carabao Cup) game this mid-week.
  • Raheem Sterling scored today in his 168th Game under Pep Guardiola…the maximum any City player has played under the Catalan maestro. Around three years ago, when going through a career crisis after Euro 2016, ridiculed and criticized a lot by the UK press, Sterling was in a real low. Pep had made a phone call to him then and given a much needed Pep Talk. Sterling today is being sought after by the biggest of clubs, including Real Madrid, and is a leading voice against racism in football. Pep Talk rocks.

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