De flesta topplagen har haft sina bra och dåliga perioder under säsongen, men ett lag har gått som tåget sedan ligan sparkade igång. Manchester City står fortfarande med en nolla i förlustkolumnen och nu är det vår tur att få en chans att göra slut på deras imponerande svit. Det senaste mötet blev förstört av Manés utvisning och siffrorna rann iväg lite väl långt, revanschlusten borde därför vara stor hos våra spelare när det nu är dags att visa att skillnaden lagen mellan inte är så stor som det verkade sist. David Mooney(@davidmooney) är en av deltagarna i Blue Moon Podcast, han är även skribent på ESPNFC, där han skriver om det som händer kring Manchester City. I den här omgången av Q&A berättar han om hur säsongen varit för serieledarna:
1. Your season is a big success so far, what has changed in the team from last year?
There are several key differences. First off, the goalkeeper is a vast improvement on what was at the club last season – Ederson’s ability to read the game and come out to sweep up behind a high line has removed a lot of the uncertainty that was there before. He’s making saves that Claudio Bravo wasn’t last season, too – so there’s a much more solid base for City to start with. Throw in more chances being created and more being taken and it means City have improved at both ends. The movement off the ball has been consistently better and it’s pulled opponents all over the place in the attacking third.
2. You have a new goalkeeper this season, how important has Ederson been for you so far?
I genuinely think he’s been the key difference between this and last season. His kicking is extraordinary – something that won’t get picked up on unless you watch him regularly. He is so calm with the ball at his feet, even when being closed down, that he’s not fazed by trying to chip a pass into the midfielder, boot it long over the top, or slide it through to a full-back or centre-half. He’s also got a monster goal kick that’s not yet been properly seen – he can hit the edge of the 18-yard box at the other end of the pitch from a dead ball, and of course the forward players can’t be offside from a goal kick, so it can really stretch the game if used well.
3. What do we have to do to beat you, where are your weaknesses?
Play at Anfield! City just don’t win there, do they? One win in the Premier League era (one win since 1981) tells the story – so the answer is simple really. Intimidate the visiting players, press them high and keep the game really fast. That’s probably the best way to get through this season, even if it’s not worked for anybody so far – though it comes with the danger that that’s exactly the sort of team City should be well set up to play against. If it works, then City will have no answer – if it doesn’t, it could open the flood gates. Either way, it shouldn’t be a tight game this time around.
4. Who has been the player of the year so far for you?
There have been many improved players this season, plus the addition of Ederson that has really helped the team. However, the biggest change – and it started when Guardiola arrived at City – is in Raheem Sterling. His movement and decision-making have been amazing this season. He’s been getting into goalscoring positions and hitting the target more often than not, which is why he’s having his best ever season. He knows when to step inside and when to hug the touchline and he’s looking far more confident than I’ve ever seen him before.
5. The transfer window is open, do think there will be any players coming in at City?
It has to be Alexis Sanchez, doesn’t it? With Gabriel Jesus injured for some time and Sergio Aguero prone to picking up knows, it looks increasingly likely City will go back in for the Arsenal forward. I wouldn’t be surprised to see renewed interest in a centre-back, too – given Vincent Kompany and John Stones have been injured this season, and Eliaquim Mangala has been a walking comedy show at times.
6. What are your thoughts on Liverpool this season?
A real mixed bag, frankly. I don’t understand why they’ve been so up and down because they’ve got some of the best offensive players in the league – even if the back four and the goalkeeper have a mistake in them. Obviously, it’s impossible to go through a season with the ”we’ll score more than you” attitude as there’ll be tight games that trip a team up, but they’ve got more than enough for it to have been such a problem that they’ve been a little inconsistent. I’d have thought they’d have been closer than 18 points off City at this point (though I guess that’s partly because of how imperious City have been to this stage) – but it’s the draws that will do it and they’ve been the killers so far. I’d certainly rank Liverpool as better than Manchester United, arguably better than Chelsea too – so I’d not be surprised to see them in the top two or three at the end of the season.
7. How do you think you will line up against Liverpool? What kind of game do you think we will see?
I think it’ll be a blockbuster of a game, providing both teams go for it. I don’t really think it’s in either’s interest to sit back, as both will want to impose their attacking play on the game. I think City will put out their strongest available XI – so I’d expect to see Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling on the flanks, Sergio Aguero in the middle with Kevin De Bruyne behind – and, depending on his personal situation, David Silva, too. The only real question mark is at centre-back – will Guardiola go with a pairing of Stones and Otamendi or Kompany and Stones?