Since Pep Guardiola joined from Bayern Munich, #Manchester City have looked a side transformed. After a lacklustre 2015/16, they had a point to prove under the new manager and they have performed this with flying colours this season. However, I believe these 5 games have stood out as the most telling about the direction this season is heading in.
After a nervy first game of the season at home to Sunderland, City needed to make a statement in their first away game of the season at Stoke, a ground where City have been known to struggle in the past. Indeed, the previous season, two Marko Arnautovic goals fired the Potters to a comprehensive 2-0 victory over City. However, City approached this game very differently and quickly lead 2-0 through two Sergio Aguero goals. Despite a Bojan penalty increasing pressure on City, two late goals from Nolito rounded off a comprehensive away win and a statement that City meant business this season.
It's 3-1 to @ManCity and who would ever have thought that Nolito would have more of an end product than Navas?— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) August 20, 2016
Sergio Aguero Biblical LG x— Liam Gallagher (@liamgallagher) August 21, 2016
FT Stoke 1 #MCFC 4. Pep did it at Stoke, although to be fair the sun did come out for him!— Stuart Brennan (@StuBrennanMEN) August 20, 2016
Following on from the Stoke win, this win against West Ham was arguably a more impressive performance and, individually, set the tone for someone who has been the most improved City player from the previous season: Raheem Sterling. Maligned after an iffy 2015/16 season following his £49 million from Liverpool and a poor Euro 2016 where he was singled out as a particularly poor performer in an England shirt; Raheem Sterling has come on leaps and bounds this season and this game was arguably most telling of this. Two very well taken goals by the English winger succumbed the East Londoners to a comprehensive defeat.
In City's first test of the season, old rivals Pep Guardiola and his United counterpart Jose Mourinho met at Old Trafford in a game that's becoming one of the biggest on the world stage. Both sides had to make an impact going into this game, but it was Guardiola's City that impressed. An exceptional first 40 minutes saw City leading 2-0 through goals from the outstanding Kevin De Bruyne and Nigerian starlet Kelechi Iheanacho, who was in for the suspended Sergio Aguero. Despite an iffy performance by City debutant Claudio Bravo and Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulling a goal back for United, City held on to make a statement for the season ahead and gain an upper hand on their city and title rivals.
This victory is for all of our fans, we win together, we fight together, our club, our city!! pic.twitter.com/iPGpNR0qSH— David Silva (@21LVA) September 10, 2016
The City Is Blue 🔵⚪️🔵⚪️— Trevor Sinclair (@trevor8sinclair) September 10, 2016
Thought De Bruyne had been having a fairly quiet start to the season... Welcome to season 16/17 KDB 😉 #mcfc— Lisa R (@Lis2808) September 11, 2016
After a six game winless streak - Pep Guardiola's worst ever - City had to make a point at the Hawthorns when they played West Brom. After a couple of weeks of speculation in the media over the future of forward Sergio Aguero, the Argentine silenced all his critics by scoring two stunning goals to put City 2-0 up. City continued to play the type of #Football Guardiola wants the side to play and late on, two goals from German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan would end the poor run and set City up for their meeting with Guardiola's old club, Barcelona.
Did You Know? Tony Pulis suffered his heaviest defeat as West Brom boss at The Hawthorns as Guardiola's Man City thrashed the Baggies 4-0.— City Chief ️ (@City_Chief) October 30, 2016
West Brom 0-4 Man City FT:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 29, 2016
Pass accuracy: 80%-89%
Chances created: 7-14
Back with a bang. pic.twitter.com/eJgIGtA0Jz
Gundogan tearing the #Westbrom defence apart.— NChidubem (@juninhobravo14) October 29, 2016
Simply put, this was one of the finest Manchester City performances in recent years. If critics doubted that beating West Brom could redeem Pep Guardiola and his side after a poor run, this game succeeded tenfold. Whilst the first half was somewhat closer, with Lionel Messi giving Barcelona the lead and Gundogan's equaliser coming somewhat against the run of play, the second half proved just how good City could be. Following the break, City played with confidence and panache and, apart from a chance for Andre Gomes, which hit the bar, completely outclassed the Catalans. Kevin De Bruyne put City ahead with an outstanding free kick, before Ilkay Gundogan wrapped up the points, but truthfully, the second half could have brought so many more goals for City. If any game could ever epitomise how far Manchester have come since those grey days in the 1990s when they were playing the likes of York City and Macclesfield Town in the Third Tier of English football, this was it.
Ilkay Gundogan last two games for Man City:— 8 Fact Football (@8Fact_Footballl) November 1, 2016
⚽️⚽️ vs. Barcelona
⚽️⚽️ vs. West Brom
Back-to-back braces. pic.twitter.com/W8e3W7rnOh
For all the years Man. City courted Pep Guardiola last night was the sort of occasion & display, they had in mind. https://t.co/9dyNjpIgJT— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) November 2, 2016
Kevin De Bruyne makes Pogba look like a Dabbin Eric Djemba-Djemba!— Pride Of Manchester (@LIVE_LOVE_MCFC) November 1, 2016
I'm breaking up with my EX mrs for Kevin De Bruyne with immediate effect— Tom Heppy (@TomHeppyMCFC) November 1, 2016
And what can you say about De Bruyne. On another level to anyone on the pitch tonight.— Chris (@cghough) November 1, 2016
Id probs have Kev de bruyne at Wigan tbf— luke kelly (@_luke_kel) November 1, 2016