In a contest that will more than likely be remembered for the outrageous refereeing decisions from Mike Dean, Manchester City will be delighted and albeit relieved to come away from the newly named Bet365 Stadium against Stoke City, with all 3 points. Many questioned whether a manager like Pep Guardiola could travel to a ground like the Bet365 and get the best from his players- well he did, and rather impressively too.
Sergio Aguero and Nolito both hit braces for the former Premier League Champions, who also found Raheem Sterling in impressive form throughout the game, coming close to scoring on more than one occasion and providing a sensational assist late on. Pep Guardiola’s mindset was evident straight from the moment he handed in his sides team-sheet. The Spaniard selected a wealth of attacking talent in his first 11 with just Fernandinho as the defensive minded midfielder in a team that boasted the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Jesus Navas, Sergio Aguero and from the bench, Kelechi Iheanacho and Nolito, all of which were given an incredible amount of freedom throughout the game, scoring 4 goals in the process.
The statistics were equally as impressive- City managed to conjure up 57 percent of the games possession, while amassing 12 shots, 6 of which were on target. On the face of it, that may not seem too impressive, but when you take into consideration the difficulty of facing Stoke on their own turf, City will be satisfied with their teams display.
It wasn’t however, just the Stoke game on Saturday that City were seen scoring for fun- they dominated Steaua Bucuresti last week in their Champions League qualifying tie and Guardiola set his side up in an almost identical fashion, with just one defensive minded midfielder in a game where City scored 5 goals, despite remarkably missing 2 penalties early on. The possession statistic provided good viewing too, they ended the game with 61 percent possession, aswell as accumulating 15 shots in total, 7 of which were on target.
That’s a total of 9 goals away from home in the last 2 games for City, who face Steaua Bucureşti next. I fully expect Guardiola to give his players exactly the same amount of attacking freedom in this game as he had previously, especially considering the fact that the tie is wrapped up regardless of the score at the Etihad. It’s certainly safe to say it should be an exciting game for the home fans and naturals alike.