Julian Alvarez’s new role could give Man City a different kind of striker problem – Tyrone Marshall

The World Cup winner was always going to need more minutes this season and De Bruyne&aposs misfortune has been to his benefit. He was in the team with the Belgian, but without him he&aposs made that attacking midfield role his own.

Alvarez clearly doesn&apost have De Bruyne&aposs creative brilliance and perhaps that will be more problematic in games to come, but what he does provide is another attacking option. He links superbly with Erling Haaland and makes runs from slightly deeper that are proving difficult for defences to stop.

For City&aposs opener against Fulham he was in the kind of position you wouldn&apost expect to find De Bruyne, right in front of goal ready to capitalise on Haaland&aposs mis-hit finish.

He turned provider for Haaland after the break. His through ball for the Norwegian&aposs first got a fortunate bounce off Tim Ream, but he looked well-placed to score before being brought down for the penalty which led to the fourth goal.

Alvarez and Haaland had started and finished the previous two Premier League games before this and as good as the 23-year-old is proving to be in that role, it could present a problem at some point when it comes to resting Haaland. He played the whole game again and Alvarez had just a minute off.

The Argentine has always been the obvious replacement, but at this rate he will need a break of his own at the same point. City could do with a third striker now.

With John Stones unavailable it was Manuel Akanji who stepped into midfield from centre-back this week, allowing Mateo Kovacic to step forward a line when City had possession.

City&aposs central defenders are so comfortable on the ball that most of them can do a job in midfield and Akanji is certainly no exception. Ruben Dias is comfortable defending one-on-one against Raul Jimenez and so aggressive was that defence that Dias was happy to push on into the opposition half to press Fulham or try and win the ball.

It took City a while to establish control of this game but Akanji was involved in their first goal. He was playing in front of Rodri when he collected possession and kept it moving to Kovacic, who produced the line-breaking moment with a through ball to Haaland.

Phil Foden started this game on the left wing but found involvement hard to come by. City couldn&apost get the ball out to him in dangerous areas and Foden couldn&apost influence the game.

He was moved to the right just after the midway point of the half and immediately became a central character in the contest, rather than finding himself on the periphery.

His first moment there was to volley a ball back across goal that you would have expected Haaland to be on the end of. A few minutes later he got the Etihad crowd off their seats, swapping passes with Akanji before jinking his way past a couple of defenders and into the sights of Bernd Leno. Foden looked for the pass to Haaland and but for a desperate Issa Diop clearance, the Norwegian would have scored.

Foden almost stood up a cross onto Haaland&aposs head late in the first half, when switching back on to his left foot, and was a lively presence after the break as well. He was far more threatening on the right, given room to drift inside by Kyle Walker&aposs presence on the touchline outside of him.

Referees are in the firing line over some of the rule changes this season but some of Michael Oliver&aposs decisions here, in the first half especially, angered City players and fans. There were several free-kicks given Fulham&aposs way in the space of a few first-half minutes that looked pretty soft.

One of those saw Rodri bring down 18-year-old substitute Luke Harris. It looked like the Spaniard had just been stronger than anything else, but Oliver blew the whistle and then booked Rodri for dissent. There was anger in the stands and also on the bench, with Bernardo Silva having to be pulled away from a confrontation with fourth official Michael Salisbury.

City&aposs anger with the officials had subsided by half-time, when it was Fulham who were rightly livid with the offside call that went again them for Nathan Ake&aposs goal. Akanji was clearly interfering with play when the ball went past him, to the point that Bernd Leno stopped his own movement towards the ball when it was near Akanji.

When VAR confirmed the goal Fulham&aposs players looked incredulous, to the point they refused to kick-off for a while as they continued their protests, with Marco Silva protesting the decision on the touchline.