Manchester City did not make a lot of mistakes last season, but they did in this hub, and this year they want to be even better. Today, in the afternoon, starting at home against Manchester United, they threatened to move away from the gas, but decided to speed in the distance.
This 3-1 derby victory felt unusual, comprehensive, but not completely complete. The city was a much better team, creating enough chances to win away, barely giving United a touch of ball in the rough second half. And yet it did not look like a city at their absolute best. It was not a perfect performance because Anthony Martial hit the penalty spot after the second Ederson misconduct. It was not a 90-minute performance, because the city collapsed after the first 15 minutes.
But then when a city can comfortably win its biggest game, stay at the top of the table and open a lead of 12 to its biggest competitors, how important is it?
Today in the afternoon it was impossible to escape speculation game 3-2 seven months ago. It should be one of the biggest afternoon in the city's history, but turned into one of the lowest points in the Guardiola era. That afternoon, with the earliest title ever in hand, City played half the game of his life, moved to 2-0 lead and missed the chance to go four or five fans. That afternoon, city fans started ole too prematurely, their excessive confidence is soaked with the players, and United returns to the game to burn their dreams to pieces.
All afternoon, this was a mistake over Manchester City. Would you be so decent again? Would you be so disagreeable? It looks a little bit, given the level differences between the two teams, United's out-playing city here. But there is always the possibility, in such games, that the City succeeds in winning.
And when City allowed her to turn a brilliant start into something a bit tenderer and smoother, she felt as if they were being put to the same mistake. This powerful pressure applied to the United Society is allowed to go down, as if for some reason they decided to lightly take away and push the fire. This threatened with the return of risky self-sufficiency last season. Instead of pressure from the front, they left United to pass the ball. Instead of winning the other ball, they started letting United's middle ground be third. Rather than boosting them, players have allowed them to start pulling out of them.
This meant that the second half of the first half was almost unrecognizable. It was a slower game, more, more open. You wondered if the sharper, cruel side of the United could use it. It was as if their counterattack was not strong enough to cross Fernandinha, shouting at the city's defense, mercilessly closing down every attack.
So even though City was half-time at 1-0, he never felt like a city. He felt like a city team holding something in the reserve, or maybe not quite forced to deliver his best football. And though Sergio Aguero won his second fast after the restart, even when it was uncomfortable with the game. One quick section of the United Fault and the City's Success, gather together to create a goal somewhere. Ederson's mistake and Anthony Martial's punishment were even more surprising and even more out of place.
Everyone knew it was a key spell in the game. Do not forget that last year's opener Paul Pogbe, pulling back to 2-1, followed another two goals in the next 16 minutes. After they hit the glass jaw, the city lost its bearings and was hit twice more. The challenge for the city then was to hold our head this time. Do not let one goal become three.
And that was when the City started playing something closer to their best. The last 30 minutes, after Martial's goal, are the most unilateral spell of the game. United never seemed to equalize when Ilkay Gundogan's free kick had found the back of the net. The city grabbed possession again, and United opened, could open them for a break. On the move there were 44 passes before Gundogan moved to the key third.
That level of control and calmness, not allowing their opportunity to come, not losing sight of their plan, is exactly what the city failed in April. But on Sunday they thought they were making the same mistake twice, and then quickly decided against it. The players seemed determined to catch up in April, and they were faithful to their word.
In that sense it was like 0-0 in Anfield, another of the few places where City passed last year. This time they went with the plan, damaged the storm, delighted Liverpool and a cold penalty from Riyad Mahrez got 1-0.
If the City brings this focus and ruthlessness in ironing all the other mistakes made last season, then there will not be many other mistakes to solve. Even when they are looking for perfection, even after 100 points, they seem like the team continues to move a little further ahead.
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