The Premier League has not seen anything like this. Not when Arsene Wenger was in the midst of revolutionizing English football. Not when Sir Alex Ferguson was crafting dominance at Manchester United. Never.
Manchester City is romping its way through the Prem without restraint, without regard for parity or the league’s supposed unique competitiveness, and without regard for the record books. It smashed Stoke 7-2 on Saturday. It has now scored 29 goals through eight games, more than any team at the same juncture of a Premier League season ever. In fact, no English top-flight team has started a season with 29 in eight since Everton in 1894.
But this isn’t about numbers. This isn’t about points. Other teams have won, and won a lot. Other teams have dominated games. Few, if any, in England have done so like this Manchester City team.
This is about the way the Citizens move the ball. It’s about the way they create space and use it. It’s about the way they ravage opposing defenses with lightning-quick, high-intensity attacks. It’s about control and controlled chaos and so much more.
It isn’t just about Saturday. But seven goals against a decent defense with Sergio Aguero on the bench recovering from injury? That’s pretty impressive.
And the goals themselves … they were really impressive too. De Bruyne, Kyle Walker and Jesus broke the deadlock with pace and precision:
De Bruyne and City toyed with Stoke’s defense for a second minutes later. The Belgian’s no-look pass was cruel. Leroy Sane’s pass to Raheem Sterling was both selfless and clinical:
We haven’t even talked about Sane yet. He’s one of the most exciting attacking players in the world – no need for the “young” qualifier anymore. He isn’t even a regular, but his pace and directness are invaluable. There is no relevant dimension City’s attack lacks, and Sane represents that.
Sane doesn’t need a wide-open game to be effective anymore. For its third, City built slowly, found one incisive pass, found Sane darting behind his marker, and found a goal that had Pep Guardiola applauding with approval on the touchline:
City conceded two goals, one on either side of halftime, to send a bit of worry rippling around the Etihad. Last season, it would have provoked panic attacks. A mistake-prone defense and poor finishing kept City some distance from a title challenge in Guardiola’s first-season in charge.
But this year has been different. John Stones has grown into one of the league’s best center backs. Ederson has shored up the goalkeeper position. City, until Saturday, hadn’t conceded a Premier League (or a Champions League) goal since August. Its defense has been part of its superiority.
That defense starts from the front, though. There’s no better example of that than De Bruyne. And there’s no better emblem of his brilliance than City’s fourth goal. De Bruyne aggressively closed down a Stoke center back, won the ball high up the field, and picked out a wonderful cross to Jesus
Sane also got a deserved goal in the second half, and Bernardo Silva came on to make it 7-2 late on. But it was Fernandinho – the one true holding midfielder in the team – who stole the show with a corker into the top corner:
City has not dropped points in any competition since the second weekend of the Premier League season, and even on that occasion, Everton needed some help from a referee to nick a draw. Plus, unlike their Manchester rivals across town, the Citizens haven’t just been feasting on cupcakes. Here’s a look at their non-League Cup games since the beginning of September:
Man City 5-0 Liverpool
Feyenoord 0-4 Man City
Watford 0-6 Man City
Man City 5-0 Crystal Palace
Man City 2-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Chelsea 0-1 Man City
Man City 7-2 Stoke
That’s 30 goals scored, two conceded in five league matches and two in Europe. That’s a scintillating pace. And with United dropping two points at Liverpool earlier on Saturday, its a table-topping pace eight games in.
Napoli awaits with what promise to be two stern Champions League tests over the next few weeks. A Manchester Derby also looms in December. But that’s a long way off.
In the meantime, seven Premier League sides will get a shot at City. Internally, most of them will be cowering in fear. Nobody is quite sure how to handle the league’s leaders right now. Because there’s not exactly precedent for containing a team this good.
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Henry Bushnell covers soccer – the U.S. national teams, the Premier League, and much, much more – for FC Yahoo and Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.