Football Features

Man City become the 19/20 season’s first centurions as Guardiola’s men cruise past Fulham

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 15:12, 26 January 2020

In a one-sided afternoon of football, Manchester City thrashed Fulham 4-0 at the Etihad.

That win takes Man City into the fifth round of the FA Cup and keeps their hopes of a cup treble very much alive. What did we learn?

1. City are not messing around

Last season Man City won the FA Cup to complete an incredible Domestic Treble. Their attempts at retaining the Premier League title have been shambolic and Man City currently sit 16 points behind Liverpool at the top of the table. However, they are in a great position to get back to the Carabao Cup final and after today, look to be sitting pretty in the FA Cup too.

And Pep Guardiola is well aware of the good chance they have to retain their domestic cups and given how horribly things are going in the league and how unlucky they’ve been in Europe, you can see that Pep and his men are determined to win the FA Cup again.

Despite facing lower league opposition at home, Man City put out a very strong side full of first-teamers. And then once the early red card reduced Fulham to 10 men, the result was almost a foregone conclusion but Man City never let up – they even subbed Raheem Sterling on when Riyad Mahrez had to go off, rather than make a less attacking change. They kept on pushing and eventually doubled their lead, and then doubled it again in the second-half. Pep’s men are not messing around.

2. Foolish Ream was still unlucky

Fulham’s skipper Tim Ream knew he had a hell of a job on to keep Man City’s attack out but he made things even harder for his team-mates by yanking Gabriel Jesus back less than 10 minutes into the game and giving away a penalty. It was such an absurd decision given that there was every chance the ball would simply run through to goalkeeper Marek Rodak.

However, as much as it was an obvious penalty – the subsequent red card was overly harsh. Yes, Ream impeded Jesus and deserved to concede the spot-kick, but had he really prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity given the ball did look like it was running through to Rodak? The red seemed harsh, especially as VAR upheld the decision, and Fulham’s slim chances were already gone eight minutes in.

3. Cup Jesus

Last season Jesus had 10 goals across England’s two domestic cups as Man City won both. This season he has only struck once in the Carabao Cup and before today, he had nothing in the FA Cup. And for much of today it looked as though his bad luck would continue.

He declined to take Man City’s early penalty (having missed his last spot-kick), but in the second-half he exploded to life with two goals in three minutes. The first was a nice headed finish at the back-post, nodding Joao Cancelo’s cross low into the net. The second was another header, showing his reactions as he pounced on a save from Rodak to nod into an empty net. Jesus now has six goals in his last 10 games, and is picking up form at a very good time.

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4. Foden’s versatility could be huge

Phil Foden played against Fulham as a left-winger. This was mostly because Guardiola wanted to rest Sterling (although he had to bring him on late on anyway) and because, thanks to Leroy Sané’s injury, Man City’s options in attack are actually quite limited.

The Englishman has been an ever-present in the domestic cups but, although he is getting minutes in the league, would still like to be playing more. Of course, the problem is he’s competing to start against world-class players in the middle of Man City’s midfield.

However, should Foden develop left-wing as a genuine option for him (he was promising today and showed signs that it could work if given enough time) then he could seriously up his game-time in the first XI. After all, he represents the best possible chance for Pep to recreate Sané’s pace, dynamism and silky left-footed touch out there on Man City’s left.

5. City Centurions Again

In 2016/17, Man City didn’t play brilliantly. Guardiola’s first season in charge was frustrating but showed promise in attack and the club ended the season with 107 goals across all competitions. In 2017/18 that exploded as Man City won the Premier League title with a massive 100 points, ending the campaign with 143 goals.

2018/19 saw them record a domestic Treble and rack up a preposterous 169 goals. And now Man City are confirmed centurions for a fourth straight season. Their Premier League title defence may be in tatters because of their shocking defence but there is nothing wrong with their attack as the win over Fulham saw them smash through the century barrier again, ending on 102 goals with four months of the campaign still to go.