Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola would have been very relieved his side were able to stop the rot on Saturday when they beat West Brom 4-0 at The Hawthorns to end a stretch of six games without a win.
Sergio Aguero’s two first-half goals ensured City were comfortable from very early in the game against their Midlands opponents. Ilkay Gundogan made sure all three points went City’s way with his second-half brace which put an end to Guardiola’s worst spell of his managerial career.
City remain at the top of the Premier League standings on 20 points but are still joined by Liverpool and Arsenal who also collected wins this weekend against Crystal Palace and Sunderland respectively to keep the three-way tie at the head of the table.
Arguably the biggest encouragement Guardiola would have taken from the win at West Brom on Saturday was the performance of Aguero. The Argentinean has struggled for fitness at the start of this season and therefore to get 90 minutes from his striker was a real boost.
Aguero looked very sharp on the pitch and was a threat to the Baggies defence all afternoon. His first goal of the game came from Gundogan’s through ball which cut the hosts’ back four. Aguero latched onto it before beating Ben Foster.
City’s leading talisman deserved all the credit for his second goal of the game as he created a yard of space for himself before hitting the back of the net with a wonderful strike from 25-yards.
The win has forced the bookmakers to react by cutting Manchester City’s title odds this season. Guardiola’s side are now 5/4 in the Bet365 football betting for the Premier League trophy, with Liverpool sitting second best in the market at 10/3, Arsenal are available at 11/2, as are Chelsea who sit one point behind the trio of leaders.
Guardiola will now hope to be able to put his captain Vincent Kompany back into the starting XI as soon as possible which will help to strengthen his defensive line.
The Belgium international played 45 minutes in the Manchester derby in the EFL Cup defeat to United last week but was not fit enough to feature against West Brom. He may only be a few more training sessions away from getting his sharpness back, therefore he could start for City against Middlesbrough in the Premier League next weekend.
Guardiola opted to play Fernando at right-back on Saturday, a position the Brazilian is not familiar with. It is a sign the Spaniard is not afraid to take risks as manager of the club. The back four was able to keep its first clean-sheet since beating Bournemouth 4-0 on the 17th of September.
With their Premier League campaign back on track, the next task for Guardiola is to prepare his side for a trip to the Nou Camp to take on his former club Barcelona in the Champions League. City have some work to do if they are to qualify for the last 16 of the competition and a positive result in Catalonia is important this week as they already trail the Spanish giants by five points in the group.