City play a perfect game to beat Leeds
City will be leaders for another week after beating Leeds 7-0 in a match where the whole team played to perfection.
Moments before the lineup was released it was said that neither Cancelo nor Walker would be in the team today as they were not fully fit, which to be honest worried me especially because we were facing a team like Bielsa's Leeds who know how to exploit space and speed very well.
That said, the development of the match was quite calm, with Stones playing at right-back, but occupying the position of the third center back at times, while Zinchenko, who was the left-back, moved up and occupied more attacking positions.
In addition to this, Foden returned to the false 9 position that has given us so much joy during the last few months, and I must say that even though none of them played today, it is always a joy to see that the young players of the team are being considered, such as Palmer (who is already a regular there), Egan-Riley and Wilson-Esbrand.
Now, talking about the match, I have to mention once again the position that Phil occupies, because he is not a player who really stays in a fixed position, besides he has an impressive ability to disappear from everyone's sight, proof of this is the first goal, where he goes completely unnoticed by defenders who are more concerned about defending De Bruyne and Bernardo, which gave him the opportunity to appear from the back alone.
Another important aspect of this match was Rodri, as nobody knew how to defend him. To this point, I want to add something else and that is how the lineup changes the way a player performs on the pitch.
With the typical formation, the Spanish midfielder is forced to play quite far back to accompany the 2 central defenders so that no one catches them by surprise, but this time he had the opportunity to go further forward.
Why did this happen? Because Stones was covering that role of accompanying both Dias and Laporte, plus the only man up top for Leeds was James, who in all honesty didn't stand a chance of winning a single ball when competing against our 3 defenders.
Another thing to note is that City almost always positioned 4 men (or more) in the box when Rodri or Bernardo had the ball, in fact, it seemed that the visiting defenders had an open invitation for anyone who wanted to appear there, as even Zinchenko was stepping on that area at times.
Also, something I quite liked during the game was the ability of the players to profile themselves in front of goal in just two moves, which left Leeds with no chance of slowing us down. The first movement was to receive the ball (most of the time alone) and the second was to turn around, so every time the ball went past midfield it was a goal-scoring opportunity for us.
Having said that I also want to open a small parenthesis to highlight Grealish's game, not only because of how difficult it has been to adapt to the team but also because he is gradually taking the level we know him.
Throughout the game, Jack made several interesting moves, for example, when he was being defended he used to go back, touch the ball, etc. but when he saw the slightest space he tried to make the play himself, with that rebelliousness that characterized him at Villa and that little by little he is regaining.
Finally, I want to comment that there was not a single negative detail that needs to be highlighted throughout the game, in fact, I think we needed a spectacular game like this because although we have won several games in the league and we are leaders, it is also true that many of those games were complicated games where Ederson ended up saving us, today the game was different, we were winning by 3, by 4 and by 5 and we were still looking for more.
This match was marked by 3 key moments that determined the course of the game.
- 7' Foden's goal: This moment was important because opening the scoring early always helps against opponents whose intention to attack is based on us making a mistake.
- 12' Grealish's goal: While it was already predictable from this point that we would see a goal, this moment is important because of what it means for Jack. Grealish has been highly criticized over the past few days, so scoring will surely be good for him.
- 62’ De Bruyne's goal: At this point, even though we already had a clear advantage, Leeds started to get dangerously close to Ederson's goal, so "ending" their hopes before they could score against us was vital.
Players of the Match
The first player I want to highlight today is Foden, first for the goal and the assist to Ake in the 7th goal and second for how well he performs as a false 9. Phil is a special player, he always looks for the ball, never hides, and has a lot of character, which, for example, helped us reach the Champions League final last year.
In addition to Foden, there is Rodri, who is currently impossible for me to leave out because of how well he plays. The Spaniard has the ability to take the ball away from the opponent that few players in history have had, plus in games like today where he is given freedom, we can see that he can also be a great assist man if he is allowed to.
Finally, there is Kevin, who scored two goals and finally seems to be back after a
· Kevin spoke of the importance of this result. “For the whole team, it's a boost. The #PL is a hell of a competition. Even outside the top three, It's very hard to win every game.” [via @btsportfootball]
· Pep also spoke about the victory. "It was a good game. The vibe of the stadium was phenomenal. It was sold out today and when that happens, the players feel it. Thank you so much to all of them and producing this performance today was a pleasure." [via @ManCity]
· Finally, Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa also gave his impressions of the match. “The sensation that the game wasn't going to change was from the start until the end.” [via @spbajko]
Manchester City will face Newcastle next Sunday.