Sunderland’s visit to the Etihad stadium was highly anticipated for both sides. Both sets of fans were eager to see how their new managers had impacted the squads, not to mention which players would play an important role in the coming campaign.
Here are the three best performers from City’s 2-1 victory.
Fernandinho – Manchester City
Fernandinho was widely believed to be integrated into a more withdrawn role under Pep Guardiola, but his importance in the midfield was plain to see throughout the match. He was responsible for screening his defence against the very limited danger Sunderland provided, sweeping up possession from deep and providing the main driving force through the centre of the pitch.
N’Golo Kante may have set the precedent for holding midfielders in the Premier League last season, but Fernandinho looked every bit as capable. He was instrumental in the possession-heavy game City played while also compensating for the lack of defensive solidarity in fellow central midfielders Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva.
While he fell out of the game slightly in the second half, he was still the best player on the pitch by far.
David Silva – Manchester City
One thing at Manchester City hasn’t changed despite the beginning of the Guardiola: David Silva is still the driving force behind all things creative at the Etihad. While he was on the pitch, everything moving forward went through Silva.
His eye for a pass is ever spectacular and he came closer to creating opportunities from open play than anyone else in a blue shirt. He split a compact Sunderland defence on several occasions and, on another day, Sergio Aguero may well have latched onto the end of one or two of those passes.
Adapting to a newer position can be difficult, even if it’s merely shifting to a deeper area of midfield, but Silva handled himself well in the centre of the park and continued to fulfil his key responsibilities.
Jermain Defoe – Sunderland
Premier League legend Jermain Defoe has truly made the North East his home in the couple of seasons since he arrived. The striker looked to be the only threat on the pitch for Sunderland, and honestly, their only player who made anything happen.
The England international not only equalised for Sunderland, but his movement off the ball and his relentless pursuit of balls coming over City’s defence rescued an otherwise abysmal Sunderland offensive display.
Despite coming into the twilight of his career, Defoe will be instrumental in Sunderland’s fight for survival in the Premier League this season.