During a weekend of Premier League action when most of the pre-season favourites for the title struggled to claim maximum points from their opening fixtures, only Manchester City demonstrated their true qualities via an emphatic 3-0 victory at West Brom on Monday evening. The fact that Manager Manuel Pellegrini chose not to select leading striker from last season Sergio Aguero in his starting eleven also highlights his vast array of attacking options ahead of more difficult tests in the coming months.
City began the game at the Hawthorns with Wilfried Bony leading the attack with Raheem Sterling selected to play on the left wing in a fluid five player midfield. The normally reliable West Brom boss Tony Pulis opted to pair Ricky Lambert in attack with Saido Berahino and that would probably be an effective combination against most Premier League defences, but that decision was to prove a mistake against City as the away team dominated possession in midfield with David Silva particularly outstanding.
Allowing the gifted City midfield to enjoy the space and time to direct the flow of the game is not a recommended tactic, highlighted by West Brom conceding two goals within the opening 30 minutes. Vincent Kompany completed the scoring in the second half to announce that he may be fully recovered from the injuries and loss of form which blighted his 2014-15 campaign.
The Manchester City midfield displayed a range of passing movements to which the West Brom players possessed no real answer despite their efforts to provide worthwhile opposition for their far superior opponents.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, West Ham surprised Arsenal at the Emirates by winning 2-0 but both goals could have possibly been prevented by new goalkeeper Petr Cech while the Gunners will be concerned by their inability to convert chances at their home stadium. Arsenal have now failed to score in four of their five latest games at the Emirates.
Meanwhile, a Kyle Walker own goal allowed Manchester United to claim three points in their encounter with Tottenham at Old Trafford but Christian Eriksen will wonder how he failed to appear on the score sheet for Spurs after spurning several goal scoring opportunities. Down the road at Stoke, Liverpool were grateful for a late Philippe Coutinho winner as they earned a 1-0 victory in a game lacking any real drama.
Yet drama was in decent supply at Stamford Bridge where Swansea claimed a 2-2 draw against Chelsea with home ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois being dismissed for conceding a penalty by fouling the onrushing Bafetimbi Gomis. The Swans may rue the fact that they earned just a point on day when new signing Andre Ayew was particularly impressive.
Reigning champions Chelsea now play at Manchester City next weekend and even at such an early stage of the Premier League season, should City maintain their impressive form from Monday evening, then Jose Mourinho may be contemplating a five point deficit to one of his title challengers.
All eyes will now be focussed on the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
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