City have been through the phases during Guardiola&aposs seven years at the club. From the thrill-a-minute wing wizards of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, to the false nine era and the control of Riyad Mahrez and Jack Grealish, coupled with the goalscoring brilliance of Erling Haaland.
But this season there is a sense City have the lot. They can control games with Grealish, terrify opponents with Jeremy Doku, dazzle them with Phil Foden or just bludgeon them with Haaland. That&aposs before we even get to Julian Alvarez&aposs inventiveness and Bernardo Silva&aposs awareness. Kevin De Bruyne might be a good option when he&aposs fit, too.
City&aposs progression this season has been gradual, as it so often is, but it is starting to feel like they are finding top form, especially in an attacking sense. After the 3-0 win against Young Boys, it&aposs now five successive victories and 17 goals scored.
After some questions about his form, Haaland has seven goals in five games, Doku has two goals and seven assists in six games and Foden three goals in as many games. Alvarez is a constant threat and after excellent performances in the reserve fixture against Young Boys and at Manchester United, Grealish set up Foden&aposs goal on Tuesday and influenced the game again.
Foden&aposs strike at the end of the first half against the Swiss champions was one of those moments when he makes the game look so simple. Grealish&aposs swept pass to him was excellent, but the academy graduate dashed around the outside of Ulisses Garcia and then drifted inside him, before curling in a fine finish. It was a wonderful goal made to look like Swiss simplicity.
Haaland had already opened the scoring from the penalty spot at that stage and he added his second – and 15th of the season – early in the second half, a brilliantly arrowed left-footed drive into the top corner. It was just the third time he had scored from outside the box in his City career.
With Sandro Lauper soon sent off it turned into a night when Alvarez wasn&apost needed and Doku got just over 10 minutes. When Haaland was given a rest, it was Oscar Bobb who came on. Finding someone to fill in there is maybe something of a minor headache for Guardiola, given Alvarez and Haaland now both start every meaningful game.
But that just speaks of the options now available to the City manager. There is still some control in this side, but it is starting to embrace the chaos every now and again. Guardiola&aposs ability to constantly alter the way his side plays, even if only slightly, is part of the reason his success at the Etihad has lasted so long.
As Chelsea prepare for the visit of City this weekend, they will wonder what he will do on the wings. They will know that Haaland will start and that they might be powerless to stop him. They will expect Alvarez to start and will know that means they can&apost devote all their defensive resources to the No. 9.
But out wide, City can mix it up. Foden has been excellent but Doku can bring his directness and his dynamism to the right. Grealish has been back to his best recently and is a skilful, controlling presence on the left. Doku has been bordering on the unplayable on that flank, however, and when he&aposs at his best he can the chalk to Grealish&aposs cheese.