To say that Manchester City’s season has been a massive success would be an underachievement. The Citizens have been far and away the best team in Europe, and look like candidates on both the English Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
As one would expect, there are several keys that can point to the team’s stellar season thus far. From their activity on the transfer market to the form of a few players, these are some of the reasons why Manchester City have emerged as the team to beat in Europe this year.
An excellent transfer window during the summer
Everything started with the club’s activity during the recent summer transfer window. City signed Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, and Danilo. They also acquired two highly-touted youngsters in Douglas Luiz and Luka Ilic, from Vasco da Gama and Crvena Zvezda, respectively.
The results have been impressive. Ederson settled himself as the top-choice goalkeeper over Claudio Bravo, Walker and Danilo have seen regular action on the full-back roles, and Bernardo Silva has left his mark every time he’s had the chance. Mendy had a good start to the season as well, but he is rehabbing from an injury and it is quite unlikely that he will recover before the end of the campaign.
City spent £220,95M in those seven players. But they have been worth the investment, because they made an impressive team even better and deeper.
Manchester City have always had a lot of talent on the squad, but there were a few players that were not playing at their best form last season. That has changed this year. Several elements have improved their play, and the changes have been noticeable. Two names worth mentioning are Fabian Delph and Sergio Aguero.
The former Aston Villa was an afterthought in City over the past few seasons, and many believe he would leave the club on loan during the summer. But he remained with the team, and emerged as a viable alternative in central midfield when Fernandinho was not available. He actually passed Yaya Toure in the pecking order, and it is not crazy to imagine him representing England in the World Cup next year. He possesses that mix of strength, quality and finesse every single midfielder in the world would like to have.
Sergio Aguero has also played better this season. The Argentinian forward has 12 goals and three assists in 16 matches across all competitions. He has formed a deadly pairing with Gabriel Jesus, but most importantly, he gained the decisive touch he seemed to lose last season. Aguero once again has looked like a forward capable of beating any defence in the world, and his confidence seems to be quite high following his return to the Argentina national team. With the World Cup looming, now it’s the time for Aguero to show what he’s really made of. And so far he is playing above the expectations.
A deadly attacking unit
We already covered Aguero’s impressive form this season. But the reality is that the entire attacking line of Manchester City has played at a high level. The numbers do not lie, and we can see all of them have made huge contributions to the side, whether it’s scoring goals, assisting, or simply creating chances for their teammates.
As mentioned above, Aguero already has 11 goals and three assists in 16 matches. Gabriel Jesus has 10 goals and two assists in 20 matches. Leroy Sane has chipped in with eight goals and eight assists in 19 matches. Raheem Sterling has been the most surprising player of all the attacking one, as the former Liverpool star has 13 goals and two assists in 20 matches. And Kevin De Bruyne has added five goals and 11 assists in 20 games. Scoring isn’t everything, however, and players such as David Silva are important as well. The Spanish playmaker already has two goals and 10 assists in 19 appearances.
If we add them all, we can find that between those six players, City has an impressive tally of 49 goals and 36 assists. It’s hard to find this kind of production in other teams all over the world. And that scoring ability is what makes City so dangerous.
A world-class manager
Of course, none of this would be possible without Pep Guardiola in charge. The Spanish tactician has been the main reason why City are on top of the world right now. He has successfully implemented his system, the same one that worked beautifully in both FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich. But he also added the typical pace needed to thrive on English soil. As such, Guardiola has created a monster almost impossible to stop. City are a technical, clinical team that also plays with an insane amount of pace. That makes them quite hard to contain.
Guardiola has adjusted, though. He played with a 4-3-3 system at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. But this time, he uses a 4-1-4-1 where Fernandinho plays a key role. The Brazilian is the one in charge of filling the voids in midfield. That allows David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne to play as proper attacking midfielders, operating quite close to either Gabriel Jesus or Sergio Aguero.
The results are there. City have an eight-point advantage at the top of the Premier League standings, and also secured their top spot in the UEFA Champions League group against the likes of Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk. Their form has been impressive at the moment, and right now no team can stop them. Needless to say, they are the best team in the world at the moment.
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