Manchester City defeated Sheffield United 2-1 in the Premier League on Sunday, August 27. With a perfect three victories from three games, they go to the top of the league.

The Blades came into this game having suffered two consecutive league losses. They were defeated 1-0 by Crystal Palace on the opening day, then succumbing 2-1 to Nottingham Forest the following week. Paul Heckingbottom picked a quality side against the reigning champions despite having little to lose.

City, on the other hand, thrashed Burnley 3-0 on the opening day before edging Newcastle United 1-0 last week to begin their championship defense in emphatic form. Despite Kevin De Bruyne’s injury, Pep Guardiola’s players appeared ready to defend their title with a solid squad.

Manchester City dominated possession and controlled the pace of the game in the first half. However, they were unable to break down Sheffield United in the first period, which was mostly due to their own deficiencies.

Guardiola’s players tried 12 attempts in the opening session, but only three were successful. In the 37th minute, Erling Haaland also missed a penalty.

Sheffield United were fortunate to be tied with City at 0-0 at the interval, despite hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

The second half was significantly better for the hosts, who maintained the ball for a little longer and eventually tried a shot. However, they went down in the 63rd minute as Jack Grealish’s moment of magic set up Haaland for the first goal.

Sheffield scored with their first effort on goal of the game, which came in the 85th minute, courtesy of Jayden Bogle. Their joy, however, was short-lived, as Rodri scored the game-winning goal for Manchester City only three minutes later.

The champs hung on for a 2-1 victory, and with that, let’s look at the five key talking topics from the game.

#5. Sheffield United had very little possession of the ball while facing Manchester City

While most clubs have become used to what Pep Guardiola’s side has in store for them, their sheer brilliance shined through against newly-promoted Sheffield United.

Manchester City controlled the ball for 83% of the first half, completing 391 passes against their hosts’ 82. They took 12 shots, but only three were on target due to a lack of clinicality in front of goal. Meanwhile, the Blades had to wait until late in the second half to even try a shot, much alone get one on target.

The hosts were trapped so far back that they needed to clear the ball 20 times in the first half alone. After a complete 90-minute, end-to-end game, a defensive unit’s total touches these digits.

#4. Erling Haaland’s penalty kick slammed against the post

Manchester City was in full flow as the half-time break approached, but they had yet to score. Julian Alvarez found himself in a nice passing position in Sheffield United’s box as they sought to find an opening. He was fouled by Blades captain John Egan as he prepared to release the ball, and a penalty was granted.

In the 37th minute, Erling Haaland went up to take the kick but rifled his powerful shot off the crossbar, keeping the score at 0-0. It was his second miss in ten tries for the Cityzens.

#3. City dominated the first three quarters

Typically, teams dominate games in stages, with each of the 11 players on the field putting in additional effort to score or prevent goals. This Pep Guardiola club, on the other hand, seems to be structured to dominate and control the full 90 minutes of a game.

While it is unrealistic, it seemed that such until the 76th minute, when Sheffield United launched their first genuine onslaught of the game. The graph below shows that it was all Manchester City (blue) until late in the second half.

Following his missed penalty, Haaland scored in the 63rd minute on an assist from Jack Grealish.

#2. Against all odds, Sheffield United scored

As the game approached its conclusion, it seemed like Manchester City would achieve their second consecutive 1-0 victory. However, Jayden Bogle allowed the home crowd three minutes to feel like they were on same footing with the reigning champions.

Kyle Walker lost focus and made a mistake, giving Sheffield more time and space in the final third. Bogle received the ball and took a calm touch before sending a shot into the bottom-left corner beyond Ederson’s extended arms.

#1. Rodri, once again, is City’s hero

Rodri, as he did in last season’s UEFA Champions League Final against Inter Milan, came up when his side needed him the most. Walker’s ball was badly managed by replacement Phil Foden, so the Spaniard was in the right position at the right moment. The ball dropped pleasantly to Rodri, who struck a shot fiercely into the back of the goal without pausing to restore Manchester City’s advantage.

It was his second goal of the season in just three games, matching his total from 38 games last season.

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