It was not the start the defending champions – Manchester City would have wished for last week, but after the hiccup in North London, City were back in full swing at Etihad as they struck five times against Norwich City and it was the signing of the season – Jack Grealish, who opened the scoring and let the floodgates open.
Manchester City show their class pic.twitter.com/9QdhDOSEWx
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) August 21, 2021
Jack Grealish started on the flanks rather than centrally and the most impact on the match was provided by Gabriel Jesus, who played on the wings. Jesus was accurate with his crosses and orchestrated the moves that led to goal-fest at Etihad.
Manchester City goal drought had spanned three games in as many competitions, but goals arrived in a torrent. City’s wait was ended inside six minutes, even if the last two touches came courtesy of Norwich players. Grant Hanley’s desperate intervention sent the ball in off a powerless and luckless Krul. The previous two showed more precision, the recalled Rodri chipping a pass and Jesus volleying a cross.
Jesus delivered another cross into a corridor of uncertainty for defenders. The ball struck Grealish and bounced past Krul.
Raheem Sterling, relishing on the wings, capped his cameo with a trademark strike, sliding the ball in from Jesus’s low centre.
Jesus had been the supplier when Ferran Torres had a goal chalked off.
Jack Grealish scores his first goal for Man City and sends a message to the doubters pic.twitter.com/B2chfr3wwH
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) August 21, 2021
Tormented by Jesus, the Norwich left-back Dimitris Giannoulis was removed at half-time, a substitution doubling up as an act of mercy.
Norwich nevertheless conceded three more. Ilkay Gündogan, captain for the day, took a corner, Aymeric Laporte met it and while Pierre Lees-Melou blocked his header, the Spain international stabbed in the rebound. The other centre-back could concentrate on attack, too, with Rúben Dias chipping a pass for Mahrez to sidefoot in the fifth.
Before Sterling scored, Ederson made his only save to spare Gündogan an own goal.
The hard-working and unselfish Jesus, involved in two of the first three goals.
This result was the consequence of how many good things we have done,” said Pep.
“We are still not at the top – there are still many things to do. We trained, we were refreshed, happy for these first points…. hopefully they will not be the last!”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 21, 2021
Guardiola was pleased with many aspects of the 5-0 win over the Canaries, but especially pleased with the display of man-of-the-match Gabriel Jesus who was involved in three of the goals against Norwich.
“He’s a player who likes to be wider than central position,” he said.
“One of the reasons why I’m a manager is when you can work with people and humans like Gabriel.
“He never complains, he plays five minutes, he plays the best five minutes he can do.
Gabriel Jesus vs Norwich:
69 Accurate Passes
92.7% Pass Accuracy
3 Key Passes
2 Accurate Long Balls
1 Interception pic.twitter.com/IuUC8UainY
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 21, 2021
“He’s happy on left, right or centre and today the connection with Kyle was exceptional.
“I’m pleased with his performance; he was involved in three of our goals and is an Incredibly important player for us.
“He made an exceptional performance today, and I repeat, if he plays three minutes he plays the best three minutes for the club and everyone.
“The more you have in this position the better we are. When someone plays like this they deserve to play.
23 – Since Pep Guardiola joined Manchester City ahead of the 2016-17 season, there have been 49 Premier League games won by a margin of 5+ goals; the Spaniard’s side are responsible for 23 of these (47%). Demolition. pic.twitter.com/TieeGYAr1y
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 21, 2021
“He’s so young, big congratulations because he deserves in life the best. He’s so generous and as I say, I’m incredibly satisfied for him.”
The boss also added that he believes he can help Jack Grealish score more goals on a regular basis, citing Raheem Sterling as a similar example.
“If he gets the mentality to score goals like Raheem, yeah (he can score more),” he said.
“When Raheem was here when I first arrived he didn’t have goals in his mind and we immediately changed his arrival.
“Today he scored because he arrives in the centre, he’s a machine there.
“He changed his mind and decided he was going to score. Jack has this mentality to score goals and win games as well.
“But if he has the Raheem mentality then he can do it, too.”
Think @ManCity’s crisis might be over.
— Gary Lineker ? (@GaryLineker) August 21, 2021
The Man of the Match Jesus said, “I couldn’t remember the last game with our fans because it’s been so long!” he admitted.
“They came, they pushed all the time – they sang and give everything for us – so we have to play for them as well.”
He even refused to take credit for the opening goal – his cross-shot deflecting in off Grant Hanley and then Tim Krul for City’s first of 2021-22.
“No, no!” he smiled. “I tried to cross!”
“When I played as a winger – before when I started to play football – I always crossed because the striker is there.”
“I tried to cross to Ferran and Jack. Sometimes, it’s like that – the defender touches it and goes in!”
“All of the team played so well. We are getting our rhythm.”
“Most of the players came later because we needed some holidays – last season was so tough.”
“We played so well and won the game, which was the most important thing.”
Gabriel Jesus left wing now. The man will not play as a 9 ever again
— Sam Lee (@SamLee) August 21, 2021
“We knew that [it was important to bounce back from defeat at Tottenham Hotspur].
“It’s going to be so tough for us because everything came back early. We had to come back as quick as possible.”
“That’s our game: play quickly, make runs in behind and try to score goals. That’s everything for us.”
One of the last to rejoin the City squad for pre-season training, following his Copa America exploits, Gabriel Jesus enjoyed a well-deserved rest over the summer but asserts he’s ready for action and raring to go.
“I’m getting back my fitness,” he added. “I think I was the last one to come back after holidays – I needed some rest.”
“After, I had to train hard like always. I didn’t lose too much power – I’m a little bit lucky because I didn’t lose too much so I can come back and train with the guys. Now I’m fit.”