Manchester City eased past Wolves at Molineux, as Pep Guardiola’s reigning champs remain unbeaten in the Premier League this season.
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Early goals from Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland set City on their way, as Wolves’ Nathan Collins then received a straight red card for an awful challenge on Grealish just 30 minutes into the game to make their task even harder.
Phil Foden added a third in the second half as City cruised to victory and have 17 points from their first seven games, while Wolves have six.
What we learned from Wolves vs Manchester City
City didn’t even get out of second gear: This was one of the most efficient wins City have had. They scored twice early, knocked the ball around nicely against 10 men for over an hour and left Molineux with three points. Pep Guardiola wasn’t delighted with the second half display and that was more about City taking their foot off the gas ahead of the international break, which is understandable. Still, Pep wants to batter teams by six or seven and is a perfectionist. Mahrez, Alvarez and Gundogan coming off the bench shows how deep their squad is and City look pretty unstoppable with De Bruyne (who collected a casual two assists), Haaland and Foden all on the same page.
Grealish answered his critics: There was a hunger and freedom about Grealish after Guardiola’s glowing praise of the English playmaker ahead of this game. Plenty of critics point to Grealish not scoring or assisting enough (he told us here at PST last season that he needs to improve his numbers) but his manager doesn’t care if he doesn’t score. He wants him to slot into their attacking unit seamlessly. Grealish won the ball back often, got his goal, caused havoc and the only way Wolves could stop him was by Collins’ ridiculous challenge as he was shown a straight red card.
Wolves played better when they went down to 10: It’s weird when this happens, right? Wolves made mistakes galore early on and couldn’t cope with City’s movement as they were dragged all over the place. Then once Collins was sent off they not only looked more solid defensively but they were more of a threat in attack. Bruno Lage knew getting anything from this game was a tall order but it has still been a poor start to the season for Wolves given their fixtures. Dating back to last season they have won just one of their last 14 games in the Premier League and Wolves’ fans aren’t delighted with what they’re seeing. Still, with new signing Matheus Nunes looking good in midfield and Diego Costa yet to make his debut, Wolves showed enough to suggest they can turn things around.
Erling Haaland was angry: He scored another goal to take his ridiculous tally to 11 PL goals from his first seven games (a new record) but he was pretty upset with his general play. He slipped over a number of times, berated teammates for not whipping in crosses early and just seemed a bit moody as he shoved away a camera following him at half time. Haaland is hungry and he wanted more than one goal. That is scary.
Reaction from Jack Grealish
Jack Grealish asked by BT Sport about criticism over his lack of goals: “Rightly so. I should be scoring more, getting more assists. I think the only thing I can do is score and get assists. I’m always going to have people talk about me with the amount I got bought for but I think if you look at my whole career I haven’t scored as much as certain people. Even when I was at Aston Villa. It is something I do want to add to my game and playing with this team and in front of these fans, hopefully I can.”
The gameplan was very clear from Man City: get the ball high and wide as often as you can. That led to their goals, with Foden teeing up Kevin de Bruyne who drifted out to the right to whip in a delicious cross for the first. This tactic forced Wolves’ central midfielders to basically play as wing backs, trying to protect the full backs as best as they could. They couldn’t give them much protection at all as Joao Cancelo in particular had a field day.
That said, Wolves did improve after going down to 10 men as Ruben Neves pinged balls forward from center back and Neto, Guedes and Podence caused City some problems. Bruno Lage will be happy with that response when Wolves’ players could have easily felt sorry for themselves.
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Stars of the show
Jack Grealish: Showed great desire to get the early goal. Guardiola backed him publicly this week and he showed exactly why.
Kevin de Bruyne: Two assists and just glided around the pitch. Somehow KDB is still underrated.
Daniel Podence: Wolves’ outlet, the diminutive Portuguese attacker ran himself into the ground and caused John Stones and Ruben Dias some problems. He needs a center forward to play off and when Diego Costa is fit, he and Podence should be quite the partnership.Also Wolves’ captain Ruben Neves stood tall as he was asked to play center back.
Wolves head to West Ham on Saturday, Oct. 1, while Man City host Man United in the Manchester derby on Oct. 2.
How to watch Wolves vs Manchester City live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 7:30 am ET, Saturday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Key storylines & star players
And still, the room for more improvement from Manchester City is clear as day. While Haaland is putting the ball in the back of the net at an alarming rate, he’s doing so without being as involved in the build-up and combination play as he will be by the end of the season. His winning goal against Borussia Dortmund perfectly demonstrated his impact, as perhaps the only striker in the world who could put away such a difficult chance so convincingly. It’s Champions League or bust this season, without a single acceptable excuse for Man City not winning it.
Wolves, on the other hand, got their first win of the season last time out as they beat Southampton 1-0 at Molineux. Daniel Podence scored the only goal (his second of the season) and Bruno Lage’s side defended like madmen (as they always do). Though they have scored just the three goals themselves, they’ve conceded all of four.
Wolves team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Chiquinho (knee)
🇵🇹 Guedes back in the XI.
🇲🇱 Boubacar on the bench.
— Wolves (@Wolves) September 17, 2022
Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Kyle Walker (undisclosed)
Today's team news 📝
XI | Ederson, Stones, Dias, Akanji, Cancelo, Rodrigo, De Bruyne (C), Bernardo, Foden, Haaland, Grealish
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 17, 2022