Manchester City’s thumping 5-1 win over Fulham not only helped them maintain their perfect record in their four league matches so far, but also reaffirmed their status as the best team in the league by some distance. Erling Haaland scored yet another hat-trick for the Cityzens, while Julián Álvarez and Nathan Ake also found themselves on the scoring sheet.
The way City is marching ahead this season, the chances of any other team winning the league title seem to be very slim. They travel to West Ham after the international break, but David Moyes’ side will quite evidently be the underdogs in that match.
The versatility of the Manchester City players
City has a number of players who are very versatile and can do different jobs with almost equal expertise for their team. Phil Foden can dribble past opposition defenders in tight spaces, and can also play crosses into the box with consummate ease. He did this against Fulham, on one occasion earning City a corner, which resulted in a goal.
Then there was Rodri, who kept pinging the ball tirelessly from near the half-line and played an important role in a couple of goals scored. Mateo Kovačić
played in a slightly advanced role in the first half, but dropped back in the second to partner Rodri in playing through balls forward. Manuel Akanji moved to the right center back role to replace Kyle Walker, who started playing as a right wing back in the second half.
Foden also shifted to a more central role to accommodate Walker and increase numbers in the middle of the park for the Cityzens. As a result their formation became a 3-2-4-1 in the second half from their usual 3-2-2-3 in the first. Pep Guardiola’s side has a lot of variety and flexibility that many other teams can only dream of. Thus, it allows him to tinker with his team’s formation from time to time.
The dangerous combination of Haaland and Alvarez
Álvarez finally seems to be getting into the groove for Manchester City while playing in the hole behind Haaland. One of his one passes to the Norwegian led to City’s third goal that virtually ensured their victory. Prior to that, Haaland had played provider, when his pass inside the box found the Argentine, who made no mistake in scoring.
And, what can one say of the goal-scoring machine
that is Haaland? He has now scored 58 goals in 59 matches for the Cityzens and it might not come as a surprise if he scores 50-plus goals for the second consecutive season.
City is currently missing Kevin de Bruyne’s services and İlkay Gündoğan left the club before the start of the season. However, they seem to be doing quite fine even without them, which speaks volumes of their squad depth
In such a scenario, Kovačić’s ability to play long passes has been a revelation. Moreover, Álvarez, although lacking the passing range and creativity of de Bruyne, gives City a more potent goals scoring option upfront.
This is due to the opposition center backs being occupied containing Haaland.