Sheffield United played one of the biggest surprises in the 2020/21 Premier League, which is already atypical and the most balanced and unpredictable of recent years. At Old Trafford, he scored 2-1 over Manchester United and took the Red Devils out of the league lead. Adding his eighth point in 20 games. Lanterna’s second victory in one of the worst campaigns in English history.
In the 21st round, another meeting in Manchester against the first placed on the table. But Pep Guardiola’s City scalded in and controlled for possession, taking no great risks and caring for the difficulty to infiltrate in the 5-3-2 of the opponent after opening the scoring in the eight minutes with the goal of Gabriel Jesus.
Assisted by Ferrán Torres, who played open on the right. On the opposite side, Zinchenko was working on amplitude, allowing Phil Foden to search the spaces behind Sheffield’s midfield. As well as Bernardo Silva more inside and the hybrid work of Gundogan, contributing with precise passes and even goals – he has scored seven in the Premier League and two in the Champions League. But also helping Fernandinho in protecting the defense.
Rearguard that became Guardiola’s trump card for the recovery in the table. They only conceded 13 goals and are not ashamed to retreat the lines and deny spaces even for small teams. Or to appeal for a more defensive possession, with the proposal to remove the opponent from the area itself. Even more when he doesn’t have Kevin De Bruyne, the unbalanced talent that is injured.
He got a fright at the end, with the kick from outside the midfielder Fleck who passed close to Ederson’s left crossbar. But he could have killed the counter-attack game started by Fernandinho and finished by Gabriel Jesus for Ramsdale’s beautiful defense. With Guardiola using feathers a replacement: Ferrán by Rodri. Yes, to manage the advantage gained in the last minutes. 1 to 0, no risk.
Guaranteeing the three points. With 75% possession and eight submissions against four – four to one on target. 91% effectiveness in passes, but within a more careful idea. Respecting the opponents and the very limits of a team tired by the sequence of games. That will be even tougher in February with the return of the Champions.
So the importance of staying at the top. Now four points clear and the same 20 games for United, who still face Arsenal in London in the round. Citizens have yet to play the game in Liverpool against Everton for the 16th round, postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak.
Guardiola reinvents City with his fingerprints: it is the team with the most possession, who finishes and hits most passes in the competition. But now he is also the one who wins the most in duels from the top and defensive solidity is the big mark so far. No stumbling blocks against the teams with the lowest investment, minimizing the win-loss and randomness of this edition.
Immune to the surprises left over in the league. Resuming the regularity that has always been the hallmark of the Catalan coach’s teams in the points scored.