1. Aguero is up with the best
When you look beyond Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, at the mortals, Sergio Aguero might just be the best right now. For the last two months he has been brilliant, surely the world’s most dangerous striker, and this was probably his finest performance yet. The first goal was simply a very good penalty but the second was an undefendable spin and strike into the bottom corner, before his curling cross set up Alvaro Negredo for the third. That is nine goals in Aguero’s last six games – or 12 in nine – and with the thrilling prospect of even more to come.
2. Silva the golden boy
Manchester City will be hoping that David Silva overcomes whatever forced him off in the second half. While Aguero is certainly playing the best football of his City career, Silva could be as well, continuing his good run with another delightful hour. Silva won the penalty in the second minute, shuffling past Zoran Tosic and drawing a foul. If there is one consolation of sorts, it is that Samir Nasri is also in excellent form, consistently showing the commitment and spirit he has sometimes lacked, dazzling with his brilliant feet and smartly setting up two goals
3. City are now more attacking
There can be no doubt now that Manuel Pellegrini has changed City. Not just that they will now play knockout football in the Champions League for the first time, but the relentless attacking quality of their play at home is far beyond what was seen under Roberto Mancini. These were the 30th to 34th home goals of the season in just their eighth match at the Etihad Stadium. Whether they will have the application and control which won Mancini trophies, will only be seen in time, but their ability to stack goals like this is remarkable.
4. Mind the gap in midfield
If there is one tactical criticism to be made of Pellegrini’s City, it is the gap in midfield. Even yesterday there was a space behind Yaya Touré and Fernandinho, in which CSKA Moscow looked their most dangerous. There CSKA won a few dangerous free-kicks, and it was in that gap Pontus Wernbloom slid in Seydou Doumbia for their first goal. Matija Nastasic and Martin Demichelis were not perfect, but this was just their third game together. Pellegrini has gone 4-4-2 in all but one game this season. It is a system he is committed to, confident of outscoring the opposition.
5. Dzeko is frozen out again
This was not an excellent night to be Edin Dzeko. For the first time this season, Pellegrini made no changes to his starting XI – he finally knows his best team – and the strike partnership between Aguero and Alvaro Negredo is essential to that. They were excellent again yesterday, as individuals and as a pair. Dzeko’s only start in the last seven games came in the Capital One Cup. He grew so frustrated with his substitute role under Mancini, and there must be a fear now it will happen again.w