Manchester City's magic is not needing magic to beat you

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Sergio Aguero (second from right) and Manchester City are dangerous in doing the ordinary. (Getty)
Sergio Aguero (second from right) and Manchester City are dangerous in doing the ordinary. (Getty)

Manchester City’s 3-1 win at Bournemouth Sunday felt routine. Yet it’s hard to find anything routine about Pep Guardiola’s City.

That’s 66 times now City has won in its last 79 Premier League matches, a jaw-dropping rate of result accumulation unseen in the past quarter century. Records keep falling, the latest being Kevin De Bruyne reaching 50 assists in just his 123rd Premier League appearance, 18 games faster than now-second place Mesut Ozil.

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This City side is devastatingly deep; goal scorers, playmakers, wide threats, match-controllers, they have two of everything. They have two league titles to show for it, too.

So there’s clearly nothing ordinary about City. Except what they require to beat you.

Sunday was a showcase. Bournemouth is no giant but also no slouch, having bolted itself to the middle of the table through fiscal competency and the confident, expressionistic management of Eddie Howe.

They never had a chance. First, De Bruyne’s ideally placed duff turned into Sergio Aguero’s opening goal:

About 30 minutes later, Raheem Sterling doubled the lead, trotting up to the play from the wing before accelerating into David Silva’s eye line and poking home the pass:

Aguero later scored a third, and it’s not just that City thunders forward with numbers. Lots of teams do that. They have so many talented passers, dribblers and finishers that you never quite know where the incisive through-ball and lethal end product will come from.

By the time Silva turns, he picks out Sterling’s run but also had Aguero drifting ahead of him, De Bruyne curling his run behind him and Ilkay Gundogan settling deeper as a safety valve.

Watch the first goal again, too. De Bruyne and Aguero got off the shot attempts, but Sterling was sitting at the doorstep, Silva was crashing near-post and Bernardo Silva was camped out alone in the middle of the box prowling for a loose ball.

The sheer volume of looks City gets is what makes the difference, even if any one of those finishes wouldn’t be overly exceptional. They don’t need magic.

Bournemouth needed this bit of it from Harry Wilson just to get on the scoreboard:

An incredibly precise free kick, no doubt. And City’s glittering defensive record of recent seasons is more due to structure and paucity of chances conceded than actual lockdown defending.

Still, that’s the advantage City works from. Exceptional talent, which keeps the ball and produces unexceptional goals with ruthless efficiency. It’s a storm that’s tough to withstand.

Bournemouth couldn’t on Sunday. Not many can.

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