Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus can thrive together for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City
If Manchester City have ambitions to be victorious in their pursuit of a first Premier League title since 2014, Pep Guardiola must ensure a partnership between Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus is struck between the two.
Both Aguero and Jesus impressed in Manchester City's 0-2 victory away at newly-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion, but this would become the norm for Pep Guardiola going forward.
The pairing was first selected during City's incredibly poor 2-2 draw away at relegated Middlesbrough last May, and question marks began to rise as to whether the duo going forward could play together in the same team.
It wouldn't be unfair to say Pep Guardiola was less than impressed with the pairing during the abysmal performance in the northeast as he famously described the first-half as a "disaster" - and the strike partnership during the contest could certainly fall under that bracket.
Guardiola's admiration for the potential title winning partnership never dwindled as both men were on the scoresheet in the second-half to save City's blushes from an embarrassing defeat. Before the season was finished, exceptional - and sometimes devastating - performances were displayed against West Brom and Watford as the club secure Champions League football in Pep Guardiola's first season at the Etihad Stadium.
The end of season results left many City supporters convinced their new-look strike force would be clinical and yet sometimes brilliant going into the new season. However, pre-season performances during the club's America tour left worries and doubts in their minds once again.
In three games during the tour against Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham, both men missed numerous clear-cut chances despite City's midfield and rapid full-backs offering opportunities for the strikers on a plate to be finished. Unfortunately for the duo, as neither showed the ability to link-up each other, their individual performances were promising.
The experience of Aguero can become a significant factor in the pair blending into one of the finest strike forces witnessed on English shores. In six years at Manchester City, the forward has scored an astonishing 170 goals for the club - just seven behind all-time scorer Eric Brooks on 177.
Aguero's clinical nature in front of the goal has resulted in one of the most significant periods in the club's history, but with the Argentine coming into the prime years of his career, his intelligence and know how could prove pivotal to aiding Gabriel Jesus in taking the torch from the soon-to-be club record scorer.
Doubts surrounded Aguero's future following Jesus' arrival in England in January, but against the opinion of everyone else, Aguero adapted to Guardiola's demands of becoming a more all round player. 16 goals in his last 18 games is just the start of the story as Aguero's willingness to press higher up the pitch and become more involved in the play has allowed Jesus to shine in front of goal also.
Many media outlets questioned Aguero's work rate following his poor form. But he has upped the running. Experts doubted his appetite, but he only embraced the challenge. Publicly, Aguero said all the right things too and showcased his ability alongside Jesus to highlight further why the pairing could become a title winning partnership this campaign.
For example, last May against West Brom the pairing started for the first time at home, and the two were sensational in dispatching Tony Pulis' side. Watford were dispatched, and the partnership, awareness and seeking of each other were shown clearly.
Aguero and Jesus are showing willingness too, and it was shown against a reluctant Brighton side this weekend.
Statistics are starting to highlight why the pairing can become a success story also. Sergio Aguero assisted two or more goals in a single game for the first time in seventy-two games against West Brom last May, while Gabriel Jesus covered more ground (11.6km) than any other Manchester City player throughout the entire campaign.
"Gabriel was fantastic, but I think today the key player was Sergio," Guardiola told Sky Sports after defeating West Brom. "He (Aguero) didn't score, but he helped us to play the third man. He made two or three assists. He made an amazing, amazing performance. Sergio played, wow, like in a long time I did not see."
As the season drew to a close, the pairing had accumulated a total of 7 goals in the final three games while playing alongside each other. Already this season, Aguero has been on the scoresheet as he scored City's opener during the side's 0-2 victory over Brighton.
Along with Aguero's goal, Jesus played a significant role in City's second goal as his effort resulted in Lewis Dunk turning the ball into his own net to give City all three points.
So if both players are covering more ground than any other City players, any other strike force in England, or any other individual forward, why is there any reason to doubt why the duo cannot strike up a title winning partnership?
Goals are a significant factor in deciding just how good a pairing could be, and with double figures hit in four games with the pair starting alongside each other, then time is the only factor preventing Aguero and Jesus becoming a success.