The Premier League Champions of England picked up right where they left off last season, giving fellow title contenders Liverpool the ol’ Etihad treatment on Monday; a Stevan Jovetic brace and the now customary Sergio Aguero goal rounded up what was indeed a clinic on finishing, and a Pablo Zabaleta own goal slightly took the gloss off a convincing 3-1 win for Manchester City.
All eyes may have been on a certain Italian forward in the stands at his old club last night, but it was Montenegrin striker Jovetic who put on a show, scoring two goals and showing everyone glimpses of the talent City splurged £22 million on and deservedly ending up with the MOTM award on the night.
Formation and Role as Attacker
Jovetic is a sort of bonus card when it comes to his attacking abilities; although primarily a striker, he can play as a second striker, just off of a main target man (in this case, Dzeko), a No. 10 or even on either of the flanks. His heat map shows that his influence was felt all over the pitch for City, and he operated in an unholy attacking quartet with Silva, Toure and Nasri just behind Edin Dzeko. Indeed, City quite easily found space behind Steven Gerrard time and time again; one of City’s attackers would drag him out of his ‘DM’ role while the others would pounce on the space this exposed between the defensive and midfield lines. Silva got past Gerrard in the build up to the first goal and nipped into the penalty box, and in the ensuing lapse of concentration, Jovetic ended up putting the ball in the back of the net.
The ex-Fiorentina man’s pass map confirms his influence; he completed 88% of his passes (35 out of 40), and linked up well both with Dzeko up front and Silva and Nasri playing beside him. His flick on the pass from Silva in the second half was sublime, and the ensuing move resulted in his second goal of the night. Although he only ended up with 1 Key Pass, his creativity was more evident in his link up play and attacking instinct in and around the box. He totaled 50 touches over the course of the 80 minutes he played, an unusually high number for a forward, illustrating his importance in City’s build up play.
Of course, all this is irrelevant if a striker doesn’t do what he’s supposed to: score goals. He scored two goals and narrowly missed out on a third, and both of Jovetic’s goals against Liverpool highlighted different aspects of his game.
His goal in the 42nd minute highlighted his hustle off the ball, a quality required in abundance in the Premier League. He sprinted past Gerrard from outside the box, who was caught off-guard by the run and was too slow to react, and beat Moreno to the ball to coolly sot it past a helpless Simon Mignolet. No doubt Moreno should have known better than to wait for the ball to bounce in his own box, but it was the Montenegrin who was quick enough to realise what was happening and exploit Liverpool’s lapse in concentration.
The second goal started and finished with a sweet touch from the striker. All of City’s attackers had overloaded the right flank; Silva passed from a right, deep-ish position (not his natural side) before Jovetic cleverly flicked it to Nasri who was also making a run down that flank. From there, Dzeko and Zabaleta continued their runs into the box but the ball was eventually swept home by Jovetic on the cross from Nasri, and in truth it was a much harder chance than the 23-year old made it look.
An excellent all-round game from the Montenegrin rightly earned him the Man of the Match award. An injury-ravaged first season with City only showed us glimpses of what he can do, but a fully fit Jovetic and a yet-to-be-fully-integrated Aguero give City some frightening firepower in their quest to make progress in all four competitions once again this season.