Neil Humphreys: Why Man City will smash EPL scoring record
Guardiola's charged-up men look on course to smashing EPL scoring record
|(Kevin de Bruyne 19, Sergio Aguero pen-50, Gabriel Jesus 74)||(Alexandre Lacazette 64)|
It always rains in Manchester. Now it's raining goals.
The Etihad is going to witness more bulging nets this season than a fishing fleet in the South China Sea.
Manchester City are not just going to swagger towards an open-top bus parade at the end of the season. They're going to score more goals than any side in English Premier League history.
After beating Arsenal 3-1 last night, they've maintained their three-goals-a-game ratio.
At this rate, they are on target to score 131 goals.
The current EPL record stands at 103, set by Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea in 2010.
Barring a catastrophic drop in form, Pep Guardiola's magnificent men will remain high-flying goal-scoring machines, perhaps the best of all time.
Right now, it feels like a privilege just to watch such free-scoring entertainment.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, bless him, tried his best to halt the stampede, but catching City is like trying to catch water between the fingers.
Wenger kicked off by trying to out-think Pep Guardiola with a Pep Guardiola manoeuvre, which felt like a street-corner magician trying to trick David Blaine.
Still, Arsenal's first XI looked like a sudden switch to a 4-5-1, but Wenger pulled the rug away with a back three that included Francis Coquelin in the middle.
The Gunners boss promised to fight fire with fire.
Admirable, no doubt, it was also the riskiest option, considering Wenger had opted to leave £50m-signing (S$89.3m) Alexandre Lacazette on the bench.
And City needed just 19 minutes to rip Wenger's masterplan to shreds.
Kevin de Bruyne analyses matches like Dan Brown going through his own manuscript. He looks for flaws, loopholes and obvious weaknesses in the on-going narrative. But the Belgian does it on the move, in real time.
He soon realised that Arsenal's back three quickly turned into a back five the moment possession was lost. Intricate passes between the lines were being intercepted, so de Bruyne ran between the lines himself.
City's artist-in-residence broke through the Arsenal barricades and arrowed a low shot into the far corner.
Indeed, City's slim lead was misleading. Their improvement under Guardiola has been startling.
On the stroke of half-time, Aaron Ramsey wriggled free in the box and got his goal-bound shot away. Ederson's feline-like reflexes served him well as he pushed the ball away.
Last season, Ramsey's shot would've counted.
City have improved considerably even between the sticks.
Their superiority was confirmed in the 48th minute, when Fernandinho reminded the Gunners of the kind of player they used to have.
On the centre circle, the irrepressible anchorman launched a breath-taking angled pass towards the right flank for the galloping Raheem Sterling to chase.
The winger's first touch was heavy, but it was enough to take him into both the box and Nacho Monreal's boots. City's new record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, was never going to miss from the penalty spot.
Lacazette replaced Coquelin in the 56th minute, abruptly ending Wenger's defensive experiment.
But the Frenchman at least managed to reduce the deficit eight minutes later.
Lacazette found space in the box, took a neat touch and found the far corner in one fluid move.
Wenger may be applauded for the substitution, but he will also be questioned for not starting Lacazette in the first place.
City seemed insulted and added their customary third goal in the 74th minute. David Silva appeared offside when he found Gabriel Jesus, but the goal stood.
City had scored three goals, yet again, only this time against a decent top-six side that came to the Etihad with a defensive plan.
Arsenal's back three - and back five - couldn't stop them. Wenger's tactical tweak couldn't stop them. Nothing and no one can.
City are going to romp to the title, smashing every goal-scoring record along the way.