Manchester City’s 6-1 battering of Huddersfield had reminiscence of a great team- themselves last season. Three goalkeeping errors from goalkeeper Ben Hamer allowed the Citizens to gain a 3-0 lead before they doubled their tally in the second half and proved how thoroughly they deserved their win.
In his post-match press conference, manager Pep Guardiola spoke about breaking down deep defences, which was barely a problem for City last season yet still was clearly highlighted as an opportunity for improvement by the former Barcelona manager. His solution in this match was to play with two strikers and deploy Bernardo Silva as a free wingback in a 3-5-2 formation.
“We suffered last season a lot against Huddersfield – we had problems to attack more fluidly. Teams defended with four or five at the back, or deep – even the strikers go deep to help the holding midfielders.
“Last season, we did it once or twice but not much more. We decided to play with two strikers to have more of a presence in the box, knowing we also have Mendy arriving. He is clever – he can see the pass in front of the ‘keeper, or the penalty spot, or the 18-yard box. He is a clever guy, arriving there.
“Today, it worked but that does not mean every time, we will play in that way. It depends on the players we have and the players that play.”
Star striker Sergio Agüero netted a hat-trick for City in this match and Guardiola had plenty of praise for the Argentinean poacher, saying that he is one of the best strikers in the world.
“Three goals a game is okay!”
“We are not going to demand that. Since he came back and I saw him from the first minute, I said: ‘Wow!’
“He came back perfect. After surgery with the doctor, he feels free now. He suffered last year with some problems but his whole game – not just scoring goals but his passing and his assists… he never stops!
“When that happens, he is one of the best strikers in the world, without a doubt.
“Since he came back, in this period – in the Community Shield, against Arsenal and today, he has been perfect.”
David Silva returned to Guardiola’s lineup for the first time this season, with his newborn sun watching from the stands. Mateo Silva, now healthy after almost not surviving a premature birth, was spectator to an excellent performance from his father on his return to the Premier League. Guardiola was filled only with praise for the Spanish midfield magician.
“He made an outstanding performance. It was his first game after the summertime.
“He was so motivated. His family – his parents, his wife and his son – were here and he scored an amazing goal for him (Mateo).
“His son will never forget the first time he saw his father plat football; he scored an outstanding goal.
“We met him (Mateo) two days ago in the locker room. It was a big moment for us.
“Last season was a tough moment for his family but fortunately, the little boy fought a lot.
“He’s here and it is a special day for us and for David.”
Benjamin Mendy, whose defensive performance against Arsenal was criticized last week by Guardiola even though he assisted both goals, was flawless at both ends against Huddersfield, with his 12 attempted crosses and one assist most indicative of his rampant performance from the left flank.
“We know his physicality. Now, we have one game a week, we have time for recovery. I don’t know what will happen when we play every three days!
“He’s a guy who is full of energy, offensively and defensively and with the ball.
“All of the guys who played all three games, they have all done very well.”
Kevin De Bruyne’s long-term injury, which will see him miss a few months of the campaign, is a significant blow for Manchester City, but with a commanding performance against Huddersfield, one of the only sides which caused grief for Guardiola’s men last season, those who doubted City’s ability to challenge for the Premier League title without their talismanic Belgian have been temporarily silenced.
Not only did City win without arguably their best player, the scoreline also speaks for itself. For now, there are no sides in England who boast the quality and consistency of last season’s Premier League champions, and the win over Huddersfield proved that there are few sides in Europe who do so either.
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