Manchester City vs. Sunderland Review

It wasn’t the most convincing victory for Manchester City but Guardiola ultimately did get off to a winning start in the Premier League after Paddy McNair’s own goal ended Sunderlands’ hopes of getting anything out of the match.

Many people thought that Guardiola would get off to a winning start against the Black Cats but what many people didn’t know is what formation the Spanish coach would decide to go with in his opening match. Many predicted that the ex-Bayern Munich coach would play an average PL formation in a 4-2-3-1, but because Guardiola is no average coach he went with one of his formations that he practically invented, the 4-1-4-1. Lots of what Guardiola is doing this year at City is very interesting. Most notably, Joe Hart sitting on the bench and Willy Caballero getting the nod instead and wing-backs like Kolarov and Clichy switching between centre half and left back throughout the course of the game. The 4-1-4-1 formation looks very attack-minded. Having 5 players all in attacking positions for the majority of the game is almost unheard of in the Premier League. But at the same time, that’s still 6 players in defensive roles, with Fernandinho sitting as the 1 in front of the back four and Caballero playing in goal behind the back four.

Although City were in control of the match, they didn’t look all that convincing. They barely had any sort of fluent attacking play about them, and players like David Silva and Nolito were absolutely anonymous in the first half. Raheem Sterling looked bright and full of energy and confidence though which was very good to see after he had a disappointing time at Euro 2016. He was the one that won the penalty for Sergio Aguero to convert in the 4th minute of the match from the spot. City kept all the possession in the match from that point on but did absolutely nothing with it, just passing it sideways and backwards more than anything else. This meant that with just one attacking play, Sunderland could easily get back into the match and that’s exactly what happened. Jermain Defoe equalized for Sunderland fairly late on into the second half with a clinical finish straight into the bottom right corner. A lot was wrong from a City perspective about Defoe’s goal. Firstly, you have to feel that Hart would have made himself big and stopped Defoe from scoring from that range. Caballero made himself small and practically curled himself up into a ball as he made an attempt to stop the Sunderland striker from scoring. Kolarov and Clichy were also lost in translation during the play. Neither of them were properly positioned to deal with Defoe and looked completely confused about how to defend in a central area, making Guardiola look silly for playing them as centre backs.

The bad part is that Sunderland were toothless for the entirety of the match. They showed no fight in defense or attack  to try and get a win, but somehow they managed to almost hold Manchester City to a draw! In the end though, City did find a way back into the match after Jesus Navas’ floated cross found the head of Paddy McNair who accidentally tapped it into his own net due to pressure from Fabian Delph in behind him. This gave Guardiola a 2-1 opening day victory despite actually putting forward a terrible performance in his debut match.

Player Ratings – Manchester City 2-1 Sunderland

GK Caballero – 3
RB Sagna – 5.5
CB Stones – 6
CB Kolarov – 7
LB Clichy – 5.5
DM Fernandinho – 7
RW Sterling – 7.5
AM De Bruyne – 6
AM Silva – 4.5
LW Nolito – 3
CF Aguero – 7.5DM Delph – 6
CF Iheanacho – 6
RW J. Navas – 6.5
GK Mannone – 3.5
RB Love – 5
CB Kone – 5.5
CB Kaboul – 5.5
LB Van Aanholt – 5
DM O’Shea – 5
DM Rodwell – 7
RAM Watmore – 4.5
AM Gooch – 4.5
LAM Borini – 5
CF Defoe – 7.5CB McNair – 3
AM Khazri – 4.5
RW Januzaj – 5

Man of the Match: Raheem Sterling

Just about Manchester City’s only lively player against Sunderland as they secured a narrow 2-1 victory. The English winger was heavily criticized for his performances at Euro 2016 but nobody will be criticizing him for performances like that. Raheem Sterling won the penalty that was converted by Sergio Aguero in the 4th minute and was a constant threat all game long.

It wasn’t exactly the start that Pep Guardiola would have wanted to his Manchester City career but it was at least good enough to beat a very poor, toothless Sunderland side that looks set for a very difficult season ahead of them.

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