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Manchester City climbed to the top of the Premier League table by capping off their first clash at the Etihad Stadium with a 4-0 thumping of AFC Bournemouth.
Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and a Jefferson Lerma own goal proved to be the difference between both sides on the day.
From the word go, the visitors were not a match for their hosts, who seemed to have picked up exactly where they left off last season with yet another statement victory.
As Pep Guardiola’s side looked ready to defend their Premier League title once again on Saturday afternoon, here are five things we learned.
A conversation needs to be had about whether trying to keep Kevin De Bruyne quiet or finding a flaw in his performance against Bournemouth is a taller task.
While one ponders over the latest addition to life’s greatest mysteries, it is safe to say that the Belgian midfielder was the protagonist of the hosts’ bludgeoning of their visitors.
The master of the final ball gave the Cherries defenders a headache all game, as he was especially active in his haven of the right-hand half-space.
It was from that very area where the 31 year-old decided to drop every possible jaw onto the floor with an impeccably struck outside-the-boot strike to double Manchester City’s lead.
However, De Bruyne was simply getting started, as he made a mockery of proceedings once again by playing a sublime through ball into the path of Phil Foden, which bobbled into the back of the net in order to do justice to a truly sumptuous assist.
In both goals, a recurring theme involved the two-time PFA Player of the Year in transition, where he is unquestionably the best player in the world.
The visitors could not lay a glove on De Bruyne throughout the contest and the disparity in quality was particularly evident when the midfield maestro’s ball-carrying on the break was put to the test.
Kevin De Bruyne was creatively omnipresent from minute one and can add another all-encompassing display to his greatest hits in a Manchester City shirt.
It is a shame that a player of Bernardo Silva’s stature has been restricted to watching proceedings from the sidelines for two games in a row.
Simultaneously, it would be borderline criminal to bench Ilkay Gundogan, who has started the new season like a man on a mission.
Operating as an advanced eight for the second successive game, the German international ticked every possible box.
For starters, the 31 year-old’s excellent off-the-ball movement came to the fore, as he combined delightfully with Erling Haaland to dart behind his marker and open the scoring.
Aside from the Norwegian, Gundogan is the only other natural runner in the side, which makes his presence instrumental in a team that has ball-to-feet attackers in abundance.
In possession, the midfield maestro remains a dream to watch in action, as he was unsurprisingly flawless in tight areas and kept things ticking at all times.
The former Borussia Dortmund man’s technical proficiency combined with his astute off-the-ball understanding on the pitch makes him one of the Sky Blues’ most valuable profiles, as was on display on Saturday afternoon.
Additionally, Gundogan put in yet another unquestionable defensive display, constantly nicking the ball back from his opponents and covering acres of ground to make life easier for Manchester City in transition.
Ilkay Gundogan is simply leaving no stone unturned currently and it would be a shame to stop a master from doing what he does best.
Erling Haaland: The Creator. 🤝— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 13, 2022
Ilkay Gundogan: The Goalscorer. 🔥pic.twitter.com/kMhlA1iotv
It comes as no surprise that a statistic involving Erling Haaland taking a mere two touches against the Cherries has meant unnecessary slander has followed his way.
However, such would be the discourse dictated by those that took a statistic completely out of context to force an agenda with no legs to stand on.
The truth lies in the fact that despite the 22 year-old’s failure to get on the scoresheet on Saturday, he put on an all-round display that was most certainly superior to his showing against West Ham United.
For those that were sceptical about Haaland’s supposedly questionable link-up play, his incredible hold-up play and inch-perfect assist to set up Gundogan’s opener was centre-forward play at its finest.
While De Bruyne may take the plaudits for his sublime outside-the-boot finish, the youngster’s astute movement is what ultimately added a sense of uncertainty amongst the Bournemouth defence and created the space for his teammate to go for goal.
Aside from his key involvement in both strikes, Erling Haaland ran the channels in textbook fashion and has added a sense of movement that makes this City side significantly more potent from last term.
It’s safe to say that if a better final ball was on display, the star striker would have potentially walked away with the match ball on another day.
If Erling Haaland is this effective on days where he does not find the back of the net, Manchester City fans have another reason to smile about their marquee addition.
With Joao Cancelo operating as a wide left-back after Jack Grealish came off the bench, the latter had the license to operate in a more central role.
It was clear to see that the experiment of deploying the £100 million man as a winger must come to an end, as the light at the end of a tunnel for his Manchester City career lies in him operating as a No.10.
The England international looked right at home in central areas, knitting play up in superb fashion, beating his markers for fun and excelling as the side’s prime ball-carrier.
Much like during his pomp at Aston Villa, a sense of positional freedom was afforded to Jack Grealish, which meant he showed signs of his creative best as he was allowed to weave his magic all over the pitch.
Boxing the 26 year-old as a winger has never made life easy for him, considering he lacks a natural sense of explosiveness and output to make the best possible impression.
On the other hand, Jack Grealish’s profile as an out-and-out creator is where he is a sight to behold, which is only possible centrally.
Food for thought.
Admittedly, it is bizarre for a centre-back to be a talking point after his side emerged 4-0 victors on the day.
But Nathan Ake deserves his flowers after putting in yet another assured display at the back.
Each and every time the Dutchman’s services were called upon, he delivered.
Aerially, the 27 year-old continues to defy the idea that height dictate such duels as the 5’10” defender was typically commanding.
Ultimately, Ake benefits from his astute reading of the game in general, as his positioning to deal with both aerial and ground threats was inch-perfect at all times.
Snuffing out any potential danger at every moment, Ake simply regained possession for the Sky Blues on multiple occasions and allowed the hosts to maintain their stranglehold on proceedings.
While it is expected that the likes of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte, after returning from injury will retain their places back in the side, Nathan Ake has given Pep Guardiola no reason to exclude him from his side after a boisterous start to the new season.