Bernardo Silva goal at Aston Villa is more important to Man City than Mo Salah debate - Simon Bajkowski

Manchester|December 03, 2021

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The title race is exciting enough, Mo Salah is another wonderful player that is lighting up the league, and neither club would be where they are near the top of the Premier League table this season if it wasn't for their respective stars.

So soon after a lot of people got very cross about the Ballon d'Or voting because they placed different weights on individual achievements, Guardiola has already made clear the stark differences between the two title rivals. He bristled at a suggestion before the derby that City could take United apart as Liverpool had because they have separate styles; as it turned out, it was merely a different kind of annihilation.

You can delve into the tactical differences that Guardiola has mentioned or you can simply look at the league table this season and see that Liverpool have scored 14 more goals but City have conceded four fewer and have one more point. Liverpool can score at will and nearly always outscore their opponents, but while City do not have that firepower their superior defensive record makes them similarly adept at getting results.

If that helps to simmer down any Salah vs Bernardo takes, it should also excite Guardiola that Bernardo scored the goal that he did against Aston Villa because it is precisely the sort of goal he has been saying they can't score.

It feels a long time ago since City regularly put teams to the sword, and while that is partly down to not having a fit striker for the last 18 months it is also a reflection of the personnel changes in their squad and how much more guarded opponents have become since the Blues started blowing teams away. Having watched teams who give the Blues space in the final third get cut open and punished, the overwhelming norm now is to avoid that at all costs and pack the penalty area with bodies.

"The goal was good, it was quick," said the manager.

"With Kevin [De Bruyne], when we had Leroy [Sane], with Raz [Sterling], with Phil [Foden] we can do these kind of actions but without them we have to do another type of game that is more controlled."

Perhaps the space Villa allowed was down to individual errors, or naivety on the part of Steven Gerrard as he adapts to the league, but it can only be a positive for Guardiola that his team are able to come up with the type of goals they so rarely get the opportunity to score.

If the City boss wasn't convinced Bernardo could do everything before Wednesday night, no wonder another string to the player's bow impressed again.

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