Manchester City kicked off their 2019/20 campaign in familiar fashion with a 5-0 rout of West Ham at the London Stadium.
Pep Guardiola decided to go with David Silva ahead of birthday boy Bernardo Silva in midfield and opted against starting Sergio Aguero, who has just returned from injury.
The nuances in the line-up were inconsequential as the defending champions made light work of the Hammers and cruised to a 5-0 win.
Raheem Sterling walked away with the match-ball thanks to a second-half hat-trick, while Gabriel Jesus and substitute Aguero also netted.
We take a look at some of the talking points from what was an extraordinary display.
GUARDIOLA SPOILED FOR CHOICE
Guardiola enjoyed the liberty of leaving one of Europe’s best players from last season on the bench as his side crushed West Ham by five goals, away from home. City legend and star striker Aguero was also missing from the starting line-up but Gabriel Jesus ensured the Argentine was not missed.
Joao Cancelo was bound to be a straightforward choice at the right-back position, given Kyle Walker experienced a noticeable dip in form towards the end of last season. But the Englishman produced a splendid display in attack to send a message that the new-signing will have to work for his spot. This healthy competition will drive both the players to strive for new heights this season.
Riyad Mahrez’s sensational performance assured City that Leroy Sane’s injury is unlikely to cause too much harm to their chances in the league. Guardiola is spoiled for choices and it will take something monumental to dethrone this side.
PROMISE FOR THE HAMMERS
New-signing Sebastein Haller proved to be a menace by keeping John Stones on his toes at all times. The former Eintracht Frankfurt forward took very little time to gel into his new side and showed promise in constructing the play. His sturdy physique provided him a huge advantage in a physical duel and this can come handy in the Premier League.
Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio were dangerous on the counter and made City’s defence work hard to keep the clean-sheet.
The 5-0 score-line is a fair reflection of their defensive performance but it veils the tremendous effort up front.
Boss Manuel Pellegrini will be confident of better showings in the future once he sits back and looks at the game beyond the score-line.
VAR DEBATE IS UNDER WAY
VAR is making its Premier League debut this season and debates on whether it would kill the flow of the game were bound to pop up at some time over the course of the season. The heavy involvement of the technology in this game already had fans conflicted over their opinions of the same.
The first major involvement arrived when Sterling appeared marginally offside during a move which saw Jesus tap the ball into the goal. A very well-orchestrated move amounted to nothing as the Englishman was found to be offside by the smallest of margins.
Moments later, Sterling was yet again involved in a move which called VAR into action. Only this time the technology was on his side and he got his goal. However, it was still a case of tiny margins.
Then VAR ruled Aguero’s spot-kick, initially saved by Lukasz Fabianski, should be retaken as Declan Rice had encroached into the penalty area. The Argentinian did not make the same mistake twice.
This begged for debate whether VAR must be used only in case of obvious mistakes or whether the calls must be binary based on where the line is drawn.
Know more about Sport360 Application