Following a comfortable opening game victory over Arsenal at the Emirates, Manchester City hosted Huddersfield, a side that they struggled to break down in both games last season. Although the bookies had Huddersfield at astounding odds of 35/1 pre match, City and Guardiola knew that The Terriers are a tough outfit to beat.
On the day, City were excellent, winning by six goals to one. The team performance was breathtaking, but some individual displays will be particularly memorable for City supporters.
Here’s how I rated the players:
Ederson Moraes – 7
The Brazilian was a mere spectator for the majority of the afternoon, sometimes not seeing the ball for ten minutes at a time. However, when he did get the ball, he was an attacking weapon. Huddersfield decided to mark man for man when Ederson had the ball, inviting him to play long in the hope their tall back line could mop up. Wagner got it wrong, as Ederson weighted a perfect ball into Sergio Aguero for City’s first goal. After waiting all season last year for an Ederson assist, he has it.
John Stones – 6
John Stones has come back from summer a new man. In the opening stages of last season, he was excellent, but so far this season he looks even better. He looks stronger, more confident and more commanding of the defence. He lost his man for Huddersfield’s goal, but Pep Guardiola will be delighted with the progress of Stones, who is set for a big season.
Vincent Kompany – 6
City’s captain Vincent Kompany registered his first start of the season and had little to do, in the heart of a three man defence. With Stones and Laporte either side of him, keeping Kompany fit for the most part of the season could be crucial to City, as they look to play three at the back with two relatively young defenders – Kompany will add needed experience to that back line.
Aymeric Laporte – 7
“It’s done Txiki, we have him!”. In Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’ we see an interesting scene where Manchester City chiefs confirm the signing of Laporte. There were reasons they were so excited and those reasons are coming to fruition quickly as Laporte cements himself as a mainstay in the City defence. The Basque born defender has a wand of a left foot to play Guardiola’s style, but is equally adequate defensively. He always looks good when players run at him, but looks even better at defending crosses. Often, defending crosses do not get deserved credit because the defender makes it look like they should get there, but in truth Laporte is excellent at reading situations and getting ahead of his men.
Bernardo Silva – 6
After stealing the headlines at the Emirates for his winning goal, Bernardo Silva adopted a new role against Huddersfield, almost as an auxiliary right wing-back. He put in some devastating in-swinging crosses that City were unlucky not to connect with, and stayed wide for most of the match, allowing David Silva to occupy the half space and leave Huddersfield defenders not knowing how to cope with him.
Fernandinho – 6
A relatively quiet afternoon for Fernandinho, which is pleasing to see for City fans. When the midfield general has an easy shift, it normally means the players in front of him are on form, and the opposition hardly attacks due to this. The 3-5-2 shape seemed to take some burden off Fernandinho, which is important, noting that he is probably the player City rely on the most.
Ilkay Gundogan – 7
If you read social media, you will see many Manchester City fans criticising Gundogan. The reason for this is probably rooted in the fact he is not Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva or Fernandinho: he will not create goals in abundance and in the same light he will not put himself about like Fernandinho. However, Gundogan goes about his business well and always looks adequate both on and off the ball and is crucial to Guardiola’s team.
Benjamin Mendy – 9
It may be the overstatement of the season, but: Benjamin Mendy is like a new signing for Manchester City. King Shark stepped up last week against Arsenal and excelled even further in his wing back role at the Etihad this weekend. He hugged the touchline and made himself an option at every given opportunity. The World Cup winner will be awarded an assist for a perfect cross to Aguero in the second half, but will feel hard done by to not be given more assists, due to his big role in two other goals. His tally of three assists is already better than Delph, Danilo and Zinchenko (the three alternative left-backs) managed last year, so it is evident why Guardiola rates him so high.
David Silva – 8.5
El Mago is back. Manchester City’s magician was written off by some fans in the closed season, speculating that he could not cut it for much longer due to his age. David Silva got his first minutes of the season against Huddersfield, with an hour on the pitch enough to conclude that the Spaniard is certainly not ‘finished’. As ever, Silva trotted around the pitch like it was a playground: finding space when it looked impossible, making clever passes, even scoring a goal for the archives. That goal was Silva’s 49th for City and potentially one of his best. The perfect free kick buried the game for City, as Silva left the field to a standing ovation from all corners of the ground, including the travelling Huddersfield fans, who conceded the fact that City were just too good for them. To top it off, his son Mateo, was waiting in the tunnel. David certainly upped his game for the watching eyes of his five month old son.
Gabriel Jesus – 7.5
The goal for Jesus was needed, you could feel that from his celebration. After an underwhelming summer in Russia, City’s Brazilian ace opened his season account with a lovely left-footed drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. His overall link up play was pleasing, as was his defensive work, as he often sprinted back to help the defence.
Sergio Aguero – 9.5 (MOTM)
In Amazon’s ‘All or Nothing’ documentary, Sergio Aguero admitted that his knee troubles have been a burden on him for the best part of four years. The Argentine took the advice to have an operation at the tail end of last season, when the title was wrapped up for City. Just three competitive matches into the season, that looks like an expert decision.
The Argentine looked possibly as sharp as City fans have seen for years. He netted a hat trick and in truth, may be disappointed he didn’t score a couple more. The first goal was the pick of the bunch, as Ederson’s long ball put him through on goal, with Ben Hamer closing down the angle. I was at the ground and when I saw Aguero in the position, I said “goal”. There are not many players in world football I would have that confidence with.
With his fully fit knee, I would tip Aguero for his best goalscoring season in England.
Riyad Mahrez – 6
Was unlucky not to add to the scoreline on his home debut.
Leroy Sane – 6
Came on and looked very sharp amidst speculation about Guardiola being unhappy with the German speedster. Sane created City’s sixth in style.
Phil Foden – 6
The ‘Stockport Iniesta’ looks stronger and better than his cameos last year and I am sure Pep will trust him more and more as the season progresses. The young starlet could have had an assist or two if his luck was better.