Manchester City are flying in the Premier League this season, with Pep Guardiola seemingly putting last season’s trophyless campaign behind him, finding a formula that combines some exceptionally talented attacking players, with a system that provides defensive cover to an area that has often proved to be City’s Achilles heel in recent years.
Last season, Guardiola’s first in English football, was his first without a trophy after a magnificent start to his managerial career in Spain and Germany, where he turned Barcelona and then Bayern Munich into two of world football’s most dominant forces. However, last year at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola seemed to struggle to adapt to the intensity of the Premier League, particularly over the festive period, where they fell behind the likes of Chelsea, who were eventually crowned champions, with Antonio Conte the most impressive new arrival in the dugout.
Of course, we are now entering that period of time in the current campaign, but City look in far better shape, with Guardiola finding a settled system, which protects a sometimes vulnerable defence, but also allows the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and David Silva to flourish.
Unbelievable counter-attack goal from Manchester City…
( 🎥 @btsportfootball )
— BigFootball (@BigFootballGB) November 1, 2017
City’s early domination in the Premier League is reflected in the 1/6 odds currently being offered on Guardiola’s men to lift the trophy in May 2018, with Sportsbet’s football news page offering a range of other odds on the English top-flight.
City’s domination has seen them blow teams away on occasion this season, with massive victories over Stoke City (7-2), Crystal Palace (5-0), Watford (6-0), as well as an impressive 5-0 demolition of Liverpool – albeit with the Reds down to 10 men for over 45 minutes of the contest. Whilst plenty of Guardiola’s forward-thinking players take the majority of the praise, one person who is appreciated, but maybe not as much as he should be is Fernandinho.
Fernandinho is Guardiola’s midfield anchor, sitting just ahead of City’s two central defenders, creating almost a back-three, allowing De Bruyne and Silva to join an attacking trio of Sane, Sterling and either Aguero or Jesus – along with whichever of the club’s talented full-backs are selected. The Brazilians role is simple: in attack he collects the ball from the goalkeeper or defence, to feed to City’s more creative players, whilst in defence, he shields, breaks up play and brings some bite to a team filled with luxury players.
There is not one City fan that will not appreciate Fernandinho’s role at the Etihad stadium, as he is key to Guardiola’s style of play, similar to how Sergio Busquets was at Barcelona and Javi Martinez at Bayern Munich, during his respective time with both clubs. The role the 32-year-old plays is simple, but so effective, as he allows some seriously talented players to express themselves.
Pundits and fans will rave about the quality of Guardiola’s attacking play, but City are much better defensively this season, partly due to the new arrivals in the goalkeeping and full-back departments, but mainly due to the magnificent job that Fernandinho does in anchoring an attacking outfit.
If City can continue to be so efficient in their system over the festive period and beyond, there are no doubts that this year will not be another trophyless one for Guardiola.