Pep Guardiola has proven himself to the master of the dark arts once again by propelling Manchester City towards a second-straight Premier League crown without a recognised striker. Eyebrows were raised at the end of the summer transfer window when City failed to secure the signing of Harry Kane from Tottenham after four failed bids. Spurs were unwilling to part with their key man in the final third, despite the wishes of the forward to leave the club.
Guardiola and company were left with a void in their striking department, especially after the departure of City legend Sergio Aguero, whose contract ended in the previous campaign. A defeat to Tottenham on the opening day of the season may have sent a few shivers down the spines of Manchester City supporters, but Guardiola and his team quickly reassured their fans with successive 5-0 hammerings of Norwich City and Arsenal. City are in control of the Premier League title race and those that are intending to bet on Premier League will know that the odds-on favourites at 4/9 to walk away with the crown in the outright market.
There could be twists and turns ahead, but Guardiola now looks vindicated in his decision not to pursue an alternative to Kane once the move for the England captain failed to materialise. Guardiola’s system has come to the fore, bringing out the best in talented attacking players, who were previously not renowned for being clinical finishers in front of goal. Riyad Mahrez has enjoyed his best campaign since his move from Leicester City, in terms of his prowess in front of the net and the importance of his goals.
Mahrez has been one of the players to rise to the occasion, displaying a clinical edge with his left foot. The Algerian international star was previously a solid complement for the other leading lights in the final third, but he has really come into his own at Manchester City this season, filling a similar role his decisive part in Leicester’s Premier League triumph in the 2015/16 campaign. Guardiola has utilised the talent at his disposal and brought out the best in a somewhat unheralded player. He’s not alone in the squad to have found a new lease of life, although Bernardo Silva was perhaps overshadowed in previous seasons at City.
Silva was seemingly on his way out at the Etihad Stadium last summer, but Guardiola convinced the Portuguese player to remain at the club. The 27-year-old has also come to the fore, improving his levels of production in the final third with seven goals in the Premier League, including a fine effort in City’s comfortable 2-0 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Still trying to figure out how Bernardo Silva squeezed that in 😱 pic.twitter.com/pHPsj1BzR1
— GOAL (@goal) November 6, 2021
Silva has found new purpose in his position at the club and Guardiola should once again be heralded for motivating a player that, although was talented, was seemingly disillusioned in Manchester. Now that he is operating at the peak of his powers, City has one of the best attacking midfielders in the world at their disposal for the next five years.
Guardiola has repurposed two players that were either underappreciated or underutilised in his squad to fill the void left by the absence of a recognised striker. Given the way City have performed in the league without a prominent goalscorer, the rest of the league will be on watch when a new man arrives through the door to lead the line.