Manch­ester City look­ing more like a Guardi­ola team

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - SPORTS - By Sam John­ston

LON­DON » Al­though it’s taken a year longer than many ex­pected, Manch­ester City is fi­nally be­gin­ning to re­sem­ble a Pep Guardi­ola-coached team.

City re­mained in ram­pant form as it ended Wat­ford’s un­beaten start to the English Premier League with a re­sound­ing 6-0 vic­tory at Vicarage Road on Satur­day.

Guardi­ola’s side has scored 15 goals in three matches since the in­ter­na­tional break, fol­low­ing 5-0 and 4-0 wins over Liver­pool and Fey­er­nood re­spec­tively.

City stut­tered to a third-place fin­ish in Guardi­ola’s de­but sea­son while fail­ing to pro­duce the stylish play of its man­ager’s for­mer sides, but a sec­ond straight off­sea­son of sig­nif­i­cant per­son­nel changes ap­pears to be pay­ing div­i­dends.

“It was so good, es­pe­cially af­ter an away game in the Champions League,” Guardi­ola said.

“I was lucky to man­age Barcelona with many out­stand­ing per­for­mances but this week has been a lot of goals. We have found our game, we can make short passes, and we have a lot of en­ergy from our full backs.”

Ser­gio Aguero scored a preda­tory hat trick and laid on an as­sist for Gabriel Je­sus, while Ni­co­las Ota­mendi headed in, and Ra­heem Ster­ling added a late penalty.

The vic­tory took City to the top of the ta­ble, but Manch­ester United can join it on Sun­day with a win over Ever­ton.

Else­where, Liver­pool failed to shake off the ef­fects of last week’s thrash­ing by City, let­ting Burn­ley leave An­field with a 1-1 draw. Crys­tal Palace be­came the first club in league history to lose its open­ing five games with­out scor­ing.

Swansea brought Tot­ten­ham back to earth in a score­less draw at Wem­b­ley, three days af­ter Spurs tore apart Borus­sia Dort­mund. New­cas­tle made it three league wins a row by beat­ing Stoke 3-1, Le­ices­ter and Hud­der­s­field drew 1-1, and West Brom and West Ham played out a goal­less draw. AGUERO CLOS­ING IN » Hav­ing strug­gled at times last sea­son, Aguero ap­pears to have been re­vi­tal­ized by his part­ner­ship with Je­sus and was at his preda­tory best as he com­pleted the sixth Premier League hat trick of his ca­reer.

The Ar­gen­tine for­ward is just three goals away from break­ing Eric Brook’s 177-goal record at Man City.

“I am very happy,” Aguero said. “I am fo­cused on scor­ing the next goal but what mat­ters is that we won.” NO MANE, MORE PROB­LEMS »Philippe Coutinho made his first start of the sea­son for Liver­pool af­ter fail­ing to force a sum­mer move to Barcelona, but his re­turn wasn’t enough to fill the void left by the sus­pended Sa­dio Mane.

Liver­pool strug­gled at times last sea­son with­out Mane and it ap­pears lit­tle has changed.

Sum­mer re­cruit Mo­hamed Salah’s ty­ing goal se­cured a point for the Reds but even he can’t match the bril­liance of Mane, who is serv­ing a three-match sus­pen­sion af­ter be­ing sent off against Manch­ester City last week­end.

Burn­ley has picked up away points at three of last sea­son’s top-six teams, beat­ing Chelsea and draw­ing against Tot­ten­ham at Wem­b­ley.

ROY’S RE­TURN » Roy Hodgson’s first match in charge of Crys­tal Palace looked like the team’s pre­vi­ous four matches. In a 1-0 loss to Southamp­ton, Steven Davis’ early goal proved de­ci­sive.

Hodgson has been out of man­age­ment since Euro 2016, where his Eng­land side was elim­i­nated by min­nows Ice­land.

Hav­ing be­come the first Premier League man­ager to be ap­pointed in his 70s, Hodgson went for a re­turn to a tra­di­tional four-man de­fense, but it took Southamp­ton just six min­utes to breach it.

WEM­B­LEY CURSE RE­MAINS » Tot­ten­ham is still look­ing for a first do­mes­tic vic­tory of the sea­son at its tem­po­rary Wem­b­ley Sta­dium home. Harry Kane struck the cross­bar in the sec­ond half but Swansea dis­played great re­silience to hold on for 0-0.

Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino’s Spurs have failed to win all three league games at Wem­b­ley, where it’s playing while White Hart Lane is re­de­vel­oped this sea­son.

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