Manchester City’s 4-1 demolition of Manchester United at The Etihad on Sunday afternoon was largely down to their world-class spine of Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.
Last season, City’s title challenge went out with an absolute whimper well before the season had reached its climax, and the form and fitness of this trio was simply not at optimum level.
Captain Kompany missed over a third of last season’s league games, and when he did play he lacked the consistency and authority he had in his side’s title-winning campaign in 2010/11. Toure, meanwhile, looked sluggish and ineffective too often, and missed a key run of games due to African Cup of Nations duty with Ivory Coast. Aguero was the best of the three, but even he never reached his fantastic best at any point in the season. He only managed 12 goals in 30 league appearances, and his finishing contributed to a number of dropped points by his side.
If you throw Joe Hart into the mix too, who is another player seen as one of the best in the world in his position, that’s four very key players who were all under par last year.
Sundays thrashing of their great rivals saw these superb players all return to their very best, however, and they showed that, man for man, they are unquestionably the best side in the Premier League when fit and firing. David Moyes’ side had no answer to their pace, power and discipline for at least an hour of the game.
Kompany was an absolute colossus from start to finish, producing one of the best central defensive displays in a long time. He didn’t allow Wayne Rooney a second on the ball, and he made numerous last-ditch clearances in the second half. This was the Kompany we remembered from two seasons ago; a monstrous defender who, on his day, would arguably make his way into a world XI.
Toure, meanwhile, was equally terrific. The 30-year-old Ivorian is unplayable when he is in this kind of mood, and he taught the United midfield duo of Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini a lesson in how to boss a big game. When the former Barcelona man is in full flow it is one of the finest sights in the Premier League, and his form so far this season suggests he could be a front-runner to win Player of the Year this season.
Aguero, City’s skilful, lethal 25-year-old, scored twice on the day, and his overall movement and team ethic was a real joy watch. He rarely chose the wrong option on the ball, and when his chances did come he took them with aplomb. His first goal, in particular, was superb, turning in Alexsandar Kolarov’s cross with a finish that almost defied logic.
City’s success this season will be largely down to the performances of Kompany, Toure and Aguero, and the rest of the side appear to up their game when they do. If the trio are struggling, other stars like Samir Nasri, David Silva and Edin Dzeko often look lost. On the flip side, however, when they are playing like did on Sunday, these other less key players seem to grow in stature. Nasri, in particular, was excellent, whereas at times last year he seemed disinterested.
Manuel Pellegrini has come in done a good job so far, and he looks a far more solid, unruffled character than Roberto Mancini. City are a side that need to have good harmony within their squad, and Mancini often struggled to keep everyone happy. Thus far, the Chilean appears to be achieving this. More importantly though, his three most important players, leader Vincent Company, bully Yaya Toure and hitman Sergio Aguero, are all back to their fearsome best.
Manchester United, and the rest of the Premier League, beware.
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