Pep Guardiola, not a manager prone to boastful pronouncements, was quick to point out that his Manchester City side is currently producing more shots on goal than any team in any of the major European league at present after their five-goal humbling of Burnley.
But it is at the other end of the field where the Premier League champions will draw greatest satisfaction after another clean sheet in their quest to retain the title.
It is now five games, and more than 500 minutes, since City conceded a league goal, against Newcastle, of all teams, at the start of last month.
And while City’s forward line is currently scoring at a fraction under three goals per game – a more prolific rate even than last season’s record-breaking 106-goal campaign – it is the defensive depth that Guardiola has built at the club that has veteran Vincent Kompany talking about the “frightening” options at his managers disposal.
To underscore that point, City came into this game without their two right-backs, Kyle Walker and Danilo who were both injured on international duty, forcing Guardiola into pressing centre-half John Stones into emergency cover.
“I think it’s more a requirement for the modern player,” said Kompany of his team mates’ versatility.
“You look around football managers changing formations all the time, you can’t make more than three changes so you need to have players on the pitch who have flexibility – and John epitomises that.
“I think Aymeric (Laporte) as well. If you have youth on your side, it’s easier to see a player shift positions. I’d have been able to do it when I signed here but with age you get more locked to a natural position.
“It’s what is required in modern football and these guys can do it. The manager has so many tools at his disposal it is frightening at times.”
At 32, Kompany is very much the veteran of a defensive corps that, against Burnley, featured three other defenders all of whom are only 24 in Stones, Benjamin Mendy and Laporte.
The last of those was also the most expensive of the three, at a then-club record £57 million in January, although he is also the only ever-present among Guardiola’s defence this season, having figured in all nine league games, in which the City manager has already used four different combinations in his back four.
“Firstly I would say we have four incredible central defenders,” said Guardiola. “But Laporte didn’t have the World Cup, was fresh and arrived in top condition and, especially, he is a left footed player and he helped us to make our build up.
“So he gave us alternatives to make our game quicker and it’s so important to have a left [footed] central defender, and he is fit.
“He is training every single day. He is so professional, so seriously and he is playing good level so that is why we trust a lot in that moment but the season is so long.
“And when Nico (Otamendi) played this season and John today and Vinny always in there … they are at a good level. It’s important every time, who plays depends on a good level. It’s a good sign for the team.”
A “good level” is precisely what City supporters have long since grown used to at the other end of the field under Guardiola’s leadership.
Five more goals on Saturday came from five different scorers and only a vintage display from former City goalkeeper Joe Hart prevented the defeat being even more embarrassing as a first half goal from Sergio Aguero was followed after the interval by Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sane beating him.
Still, Burnley manager Sean Dyche was rightly annoyed about City’s second goal, after his team appeared to stop playing after a failed penalty appeal and David Silva was allowed to cross a ball that had clearly gone out of play.
Dyche was also adamant that Kompany, after 30 seconds and a foul on Aaron Lennon, and Sane should both have been shown straight reds, rather than yellows.
“It certainly wasn’t on purpose,” said Kompany of his incident. “It’s happened a bit blindside.
“I think I got my studs on his leg. but it’s the ball. I think I got it and luckily he wasn’t injured so that’s the main thing.”
Jack Cork was involved in the controversial second goal and echoed his manager’s frustrations.
“There were just a few things leading up to the second goal, though we shouldn’t have stopped for the penalty call,” said Cork.
“It looks like the ball has gone out of play but it’s a good finish. There were also the two tackles that could have been yellow cards which is frustrating because, if that’s us, maybe it goes the other way.”
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