When you bring Pep Guardiola in to manage your team and give him roughly one hundred thousand trillion pounds to buy practically an entire new squad, you expect trophies and pretty play and goals. Like so many goals you can’t remember all the goals. Such a steady diet of goals and only goals that you’d frankly be sick of all the goals were they not goals and thus not the greatest, tastiest things ever. Goals at the starts of matches and goals in the middle and after the match has already been all but decided even more goals just for the hell of it. This is the promise of a Guardiola team that has been assembled up to his exacting, ruthlessly attacking standards, and this is what Manchester City are finally beginning to make good on.
City are basically scoring for fun right now. Predictably, they currently lead the Premier League in goals. The 21 times the Citizens have scored in the first six matches of the season are four more than their crosstown rivals Manchester United in second place, and are a whole nine more than Liverpool’s third-best tally. Sergio Agüero’s six goals put him in a three-way tie atop the league’s scoring chart, and the blistering paces with which he, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, and Leroy Sané have been piling up the goals gives City four of the top five goals-per-90-minutes rates in the league (for players who’ve played at least 200 minutes).
They’ve really hit their stride of late, scoring 16 times in their last three EPL games, and scoring at least four goals in five of their last six matches in all competitions. This weekend’s 5-0 drubbing of Crystal Palace was probably the most impressive of City’s recent goalfests due to the sheer domination on display.
City outshot Palace 25-5, enjoyed 71 percent of the possession, and sent an absurd 296 passes into the final third, meaning City played more dangerous passes than Palace attempted passes all together. There’s no way to put it other than to state that the Sky Blues were exponentially better than Crystal Palace, and they proved that fact without a shadow of a doubt.
Maybe the most promising aspect of the clinic City put on against Palace relates to who their stars were on the day. Leroy Sané continued his string of explosive performances of late, scoring the Mancunians’ opener with typical flair and later setting up two more goals with a couple powerful crosses. The leading scorer was Sané’s fellow wingman, Raheem Sterling. Both of Sterling’s two goals were veritable tap-ins after Sané and Sergio Agüero played him into positions where he basically couldn’t not score if he tried (which is saying something in light of Sterling’s famous inability to, like, kick the ball where it needs to go when shooting), but both still required intelligent movement and quickness of body and mind to get into those positions and finish the moves with goals.
Sané and Sterling are two young studs of wildly prodigious talents. They are definitely the future of Man City’s attack, but they haven’t quite been as regular member’s of the team’s present as they’d certainly prefer. Neither Sané nor Sterling are among City’s 11 most-used players in the league so far this season. But with Guardiola seeming to move away from the 3-5-2 formation he preferred for the first few games this season in favor of a 4-3-3, Sané and Sterling have found themselves back in the starting lineup where they’ve thrived. If City can keep feeding those two guys a steady stream of minutes while also rotating in the likes of Jesus (who also has been phenomenal this year) and Bernardo Silva (who has yet to really do much in a City shirt, which, once he does get up to speed, should only make this group even more terrifying) to keep the attack fresh, this glut of goals the team has feasted on really could last the duration of the season.
Coming into the season, City were the favorites to win the title thanks to the staggering number of brilliant attacking players they could call upon every matchday. Any combination of Agüero, Jesus, Sané, Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Bernardo Silva, and İlkay Gündoğan should be good enough to outscore each and every team in the Premier League in any given match and cumulatively over the length of a season. Nobody in England comes close to matching the breadth and depth of City’s attack. And while the squad remains a little top-heavy and could use one or two more legitimate central midfield types ,and probably another high-end defender, being an honest-to-god threat to score five goals every game should be enough for City to snag the league title when it’s all over.
With the way City are playing right now, it would be hard to bet against them doing just that. Manchester City have so, so many goal-scoring and -creating geniuses, and nearly every one of them is firing on all cylinders right now. Soccer is a game of goals, and it’s the ability to call forth torrents of goals that wins teams matches and trophies. And right now nobody’s rain dance is as potent as Manchester City’s.