In the first game of the weekend in the Premier League, Sheffield United welcomed an underperforming Manchester City side to an empty Bramall Lane. Pep Guardiola’s men took little time to establish their dominance and opened the scoring in the 28th minute through a Kyle Walker daisy cutter. The 25-yard strike would turn out to be the game’s only goal, gifting Manchester City a precious win away from home.
Here are some talking points from Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Sheffield United.
Sheffield United 0-1 Manchester City | 5 Talking Points
#5 Ferran Torres as ST
On paper and according to the books, Manchester City have the most expensively assembled squad in the Premier League. In every department, they are blessed with world-class players. However, like any other team, they are susceptible to injuries. Both Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are set to be on the sidelines for extended periods, leaving Pep with no out-and-out striker to pick.
Instead, he has played the likes of Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden as false nines, and today was the turn of 20-year-old winger Ferran Torres. Upfront, he showed glimpses of quality but all in all, he had a quiet game which saw him only have 26 touches, attempt 5 shots, make 9 passes and complete 1 dribble.
#4 Aaron Ramsdale puts in a solid display
Manchester City looked closer to their free-flowing best today as they aimed to pen in a short-on-confidence Sheffield United team. Throughout the 90 minutes, the Citizens had 65% of the possession, making 712 passes and attempting 16 shots on goal. This meant that when the Blades’ back five were breached, their keeper was the last line of defence.
In turn, the 22-year-old keeper was kept busy throughout the 90 minutes, making 7 saves – 3 of which came from close proximity while 1 was a 1v1. When Sheffield United lost Dean Henderson back to Man Utd, fans thought they wouldn’t find a worthy replacement, but Ramsdale has filled those shoes very quickly.
#3 Kyle Walker returns home
Today’s game was an incredibly special one for Kyle Walker. Not only was it his 100th PL appearance for Manchester City, but he also got to return to his boyhood club, Sheffield United. This is the team the right-back grew up supporting; he was even a ball boy for them at one point. To make matters more special for him, he’d mark his return home with his first-ever away league goal for City.
The Sheffield-born lad put on a fine performance for his team, completing 75 passes, winning 8 duels, making 3 clearances, making 2 tackles, completing 2 dribbles and scoring the game’s winning goal.
#2 Rhian Brewster feeds off scraps
After it was made clear that he had no future at Anfield, Rhian Brewster made the bold choice to move to Sheffield United. Instead of rotting in the reserves at Liverpool, Brewster chose to come out of his comfort zone and play for a team not renowned for their attacking play.
Chris Wilder is a man that prides himself on defensive organization, direct football and overlapping CBs. His strikers rarely score a lot of goals as their style of play doesn’t focus on creating chances. That’s why today, in his first home start for his new club, the 20-year-old had to feed off scraps. Across the game, the youngster could only attempt 1 shot on goal whilst touching the ball a measly 17 times.
#1 First-choice CB pairing
For the first time this season, Pep Guardiola was able to play his two best centre-backs from the start. Aymeric Laporte & Ruben Dias has been a pairing years in the making as City have given the Frenchman a number of different partners. The £65.2m signing of Dias means that Pep has now spent a staggering £408m on defenders since becoming Man City manager.
Today, the new signing proved he was worth his eye-watering price tag. Between them, the duo made 5 clearances, 2 tackles, 5 interceptions and win 10 duels against a very direct Sheffield United team. Above all, the partnership would guide the former Champions to only their second clean sheet of the league campaign.