With last years performances, City understandably had their doubters, but we look ‘back’ and are proving those doubters wrong. City are proving me wrong. Pre-season tours State-side and Down Under are not telling enough to base any season preview on. Two games and six points in, there’s some colour following last years campaign. It was black and white, City weren’t good enough, and Vincent Kompany climbing the hoardings in the defeat of West Brom displayed the hunger the team have to wrestle back their title.
Eight days in to the new campaign is premature in terms of making a call on who will triumph come the end of May, but City have laid down a marker, and it’s five points closer to lifting that title than Chelsea’s after yesterday win.
City entered the Super Sunday clash with Chelsea as favourites to draw first blood, and that they did. If you are forbidden from reading to much in to a leaky display against Stuttgart, nor can you a flattered showing at The Hawthorns. On the other hand, City’s dismantling of Chelsea should be the setting of the bar.
From the outset, City were hungry. No doubt Sergio Aguero’s inclusion, which came straight from the David Silva Derby Day Playbook, Might Not Be Fit section, added some extra firepower but City outfought Chelsea pound for pound, won every battle man for man.
It was in fact Aguero who separated the sides, pirouetting through the Chelsea defence and slotting past Asmir Begovic, after the Bosnian had thwarted last season’s league top scorer three times. It was a goal worthy of being the first scored in front of the new South Stand.
Long ball you say, Jose? the Portuguese for the second time within a week was on a different planet. Chelsea failed to test Joe Hart until three quarters of the game had past, City registering their first attempt after three quarters of a minute.
Jesus Navas now looks an asset. David Silva is electrified by the addition of Raheem Sterling and his lightening pace, City’s tempo increased and Navas, formerly in a team that was too patient and often sideways in it’s approach, is looking more at home.
By the break, City should have at least doubled their lead; Eliaquim Mangala going close from a set piece, Aleks Kolorov fizzing crosses in to the box. It was after the break, and a Ramires goal ruled out for offside, that City went up through the gears. Two games, two Silva set-pieces and two Vincent Kompany goals. Jefferson Montero’s pace and Kompany’s physicality are leaving Branislav Ivanovic a shadow of himself.
With three points heading City’s way, Fernandinho found a third. With Chelsea tiring Wilfired Bony’s fresh legs had City on the advance. A poor delivery was followed by poorer defending and the Brazilian laced the loose ball past Begovic, sailing a foot off the ground all the way.
The win compounds a culmination of things on and off the pitch; Edin Dzeko’s loan to Roma and Stevan Jovetic to Inter, signs transition lies in wait, coupled with Manuel Pellegrini’s contract extension – all compounded with the win over the Champions.
Evolution is essential, and where before the sun appeared to be setting on the tenures of Kompany and Yaya Toure, it is around them where the rebuild is underway. Pablo Zabaleta now finds himself second choice, Samir Nasri is less certain of a place in the side than he has been before.
If the totems of 2012 are firing, then City are faced with a fine tuning project, not a revamp.
The season remains in its infancy, but to eliminate City from the mix so early is remiss. Raheem Sterling will torment defenders, even if goalkeepers aren’t all too bothered by him. If Kevin De Bruyne seals his move from Wolfsburg, City truly are in business.
Ironically, it was Chelsea who let the Belgian go. Their January transfer policy represented good business, but their summer spending has been plugging holes for second string departures; Falcao for Drogba, Begovic for Cech.
Landing De Bruyne would represent a coup; not only did he break the Bundesliga assist record, he won player of the year as voted by his peers. To do this in colours other than the blue and dark red of Bayern, as well as create goals for Nicholas Bendtner is no mean feat.
De Bruyne would strengthen what should be the strongest squad in the division; best goalkeeper, central defender and centre forwarded included. Biased? No. Sunday’s result, and domination of the Chelsea midfield by not only Toure, but Fernandinho serves as a case in point.
36 games to go leaves City at the base of the mountain still, but it’s a solid footing at the very least. Floundering in pre-season, the only questions Pellegrini was concerned with, was would City be ready for the opening games? Consider that questions satisfied.