Slick Manchester City waltzed to another home win to go nine league games unbeaten this season and remain top of the league, leaving Burnley staring down the barrel of a relegation battle.
The defending Champions welcomed back their best player Kevin de Bruyne who joined the action from the bench. England’s two-goal hero Raheem Sterling was rested ahead of the trip to Ukraine in midweek as Sane replaced him, whilst Vincent Kompany replaced Kyle Walker as City moved to a back three.
Burnley welcomed back midfielders Steven Defour and Jeff Hendrick at the expense of Ashley Westwood and Ashley Barnes.
City were quick out of the blocks and only a few smart saves from former keeper Joe Hart stopped them ending the contest in the first half. Riyad Mahrez started brightly, looking to put his dreadful penalty miss at Anfield behind him, with the Algerian creating a superb chance for Aguero after only four minutes with a lovely swooping ball only for the Argentine to nod wide. On the quarter hour mark Aguero was again set up by Mahrez only to be denied by Joe Hart.
A couple of minutes later David Silva and Leroy Sane weaved their magic to allow the Spaniard to thread a ball to Aguero who made no mistake in dispatching his 149th Premier League goal.
If the first half threatened to be a shellacking the second delivered. Jack Cork had already hooked off the line from Kompany when in the 55th minute he pulled back Leroy Sane. As everyone waited for a penalty to be given David Silva picked up the ball that looked to be rolling out of play and picked out his namesake Bernardo who drove in the second. Two minutes later a corner found itself at Fernandinho’s feet who unleashed a gorgeous curling effort to settle the match.
This allowed Guardiola to start resting players for Shakhtar Donetsk and bring Kevin de Bruyne back into the fold, with Aguero and David Silva also getting rests. Raheem Sterling wasn’t required at all as Guardiola primes his squad for a tough run of games with two crucial Champions League games against Shakhtar in amongst league games with Spurs and Manchester United.
There was still time for Mahrez to curl past Hart from outside the area and for the flying Mendy whose position of left back should be investigated under the trades description act to set up Leroy Sane to make it five as City purred into ominous form.
The Argentine forward has spent two seasons scoring goals by the lorryload whilst still seeming to not convince Guardiola. That seems to have changed this season with Aguero starting all nine league games so far. He seems a lot more comfortable joining in play in midfield and pressing from the front than he did two years ago.
Aguero could have had four today but had to settle for one, though on today’s showing it would take a brave person to not back him for the Golden Boot.
Burnley regressing to the mean
Well not regressing so much, plummeting; a game away at the Champions is hardly the place to judge Burnley. However, there were telltale signs again in this game that Burnley will struggle to stay in the league.
Burnley outperformed all xG metrics last season, and with 86% of their wins last season being by a single goal, the worry for the Clarets is that this season they may find themselves on the wrong side of the fine margins that propelled them to seventh in 2017/18.
They already seem reliant on Joe Hart and the veteran goalkeeper extended his lead at the top of the save charts today suggesting a long season is in store, and indeed Burnley’s best hope of survival may be the flaws of Huddersfield, Fulham and Cardiff.
David Silva – still underrated?
Underrated seems a strange way to describe the Spanish maestro but on today’s showing its possible his genius is still not fully appreciated. His vision, feints and passing ability tied Burnley up in knots all day and his beautiful pass for Aguero’s opener was matched only by his quick thinking for Bernardo’s second.
With De Bruyne returning and Bernardo’s emergence, Guardiola will use Silva more sparingly as the season goes on and we could be seeing the slow end to a player who must go down as City’s best ever and a candidate for an all time Premier League eleven?
Man of the Match: Fernandinho
A little harsh on Riyad Mahrez perhaps but the central midfielder was at his all-round best today. As well as mopping up in front of the unusually sloppy Stones and Laporte, the Brazilian also showcased his guile and dynamism in prompting City forward, as well as capping his performance off with a lovely goal. If rumours of Aaron Ramsey or Ruben Neves joining City are true, they will have a lot of work to do to displace Fernandinho.