The champions’ march continued with a 2-0 victory over Arsenal as the Premier League’s opening weekend stayed largely to script, and Manchester City overcame what looked all summer like a tricky first fixture.
But whilst the manner of victory was impressive, the game itself showed that City were far from the finished article.
That, in a way, is what makes it so impressive.
Despite being the better team, City still had to grind this one out. They clearly weren’t at their best. Their dominance for most of the first half saw them score only once and could well have been left regretting that as Arsenal found themselves in the game at the start of the second half and looked like they might nick a goal. That was before the Blues scored their second and put the game to bed.
Pep Guardiola’s team didn’t look like the side they were last season. With so many players out, and with just a month since a World Cup final, that’s to be expected. But there are also some worries for City to take away from the game, and to work on later.
Benjamin Mendy’s performance showed what City were missing last year, but his defensive performance wasn’t as solid as it could’ve been – Hector Bellerin found some joy down the Frenchman’s flank.
Riyad Mahrez will settle into the side over time, but despite promising performances in his first two games in a Blue shirt, he still clearly isn’t on the same wavelength as the rest of Pep Guardiola’s men.
But if we’re talking about a City side with plenty to improve upon, then what does that say about what we can expect this season?
What does it say when we’re nit-picking about a team who have brushed aside two top six rivals in a week, neither of whom looked really like they could have troubled City for the win. And that’s even whilst missing key players like last season’s midfield partnership of David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne or defensive partnership of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi.
City have set the bar so high with last season’s performances that just beating Arsenal 2-0 felt underwhelming because they didn’t simply wipe the floor with them and score goals like they did at the Emirates last season. Bizarrely the benchmark looks like it might not just be retaining the league – the first time that’s happened in nine years – but by whether they can better last season’s historic 100 points.
Perhaps that means they can’t but fail this season in the eyes of some. But when even failure could be good enough to win a Premier League title there’s only one word to describe that scenario: dominance.
And surely that says the most about every other team in the league.
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