Guardiola making his mark with City
Like Mourinho, Guardiola's EPL stint is off to a flyer
STOKE CITY 1
(Bojan Krkic 49-pen)
MAN CITY 4
(Sergio Aguero 27-pen, 36, Nolito 86, 90+5)
Two games into his Manchester City reign, Pep Guardiola is already shattering myths.
Cutting it in the wind and rain at the unforgiving surroundings of Stoke City's notorious stadium yesterday, he sent out a strong statement of intent.
With the 4-1 win, Guardiola has quickly set about defying the doubters who believed he could not handle the pressure that comes with vying for the English Premier League title.
Riding their luck one week and rampant the next; continuity has yet to become a staple of City under Guardiola's tenure, but Sergio Aguero is certain to aid the smoothing of that transition.
It has remained business as usual for the Argentinian under his former La Liga nemesis after taking his tally to six goals in three games as Stoke were comfortably seen off.
Anticipation is already building for next month's Manchester Derby as Aguero's duel with his opposite number Zlatan Ibrahimovic is threatening to live up to its increased hype.
Manchester United may boast an evergreen goal magnet in the form of the mercurial Swede but, anything he can do, Aguero is already more than capable of emulating.
The footballing world may marvel at Ibrahimovic's moments of brilliance, but the prospect of a see-saw battle for supremacy ensuing with Aguero threatens to provide a greater sub-plot than the renewal of Guardiola's long-standing feud with Jose Mourinho.
With a goal apiece on the opening weekend followed by a brace each this weekend, there is little separating the pair following near-identical starts to the new campaign.
A Champions League qualifier had allowed Aguero to indulge in some leisurely shooting practice, but it was the Bet365 Stadium which provided him with a moment of redemption.
Successive penalty misses against Steaua Bucharest in midweek had suggested that the Argentinian's prolific powers were finally on the wane following an emphatic run which had seen him record an average of 29 goals across the three previous seasons.
That weight of expectancy has empowered him far more than hindered, as he showed with a two-goal haul yesterday that ensured City remained atop the EPL, just ahead of United.
United continue to attract the attention and fanfare with players who live up to their self-proclaimed status as the glamour club of English football.
Yet it is City who currently have the upper hand with a largely understated need to court the spotlight, with Guardiola's side with an embarrassment of attacking riches.
Kevin de Bruyne's influence shows no signs of lessening as his floated free-kick found the head of Aguero to double the advantage yesterday.
Raheem Sterling may have struggled to banish the inconsistencies of his debut season at the Etihad Stadium, as he regularly fluffed his lines when gifted goalscoring opportunities.
But what the England international lacked in goal scoring finesse, he was able to compensate with in a developed sense of on-field selflessness, notably teeing up Nolito for his second of the game in the final seconds.
That collective harmony is a far cry from the seemingly self-orientated set-up at Old Trafford, which currently sees three heavyweights of European football vying for its limelight.
Individually, Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba are able to excel at the peak of their abilities, but the pressure of them forming a functional and blossoming triumvirate in time for the Sept 10 showdown with City is well and truly on.