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Will Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero’s partnership lead to a HUGE shift in Premier League tactics?

Strike pairings were a thing of the past but this season Man City's front two are leading the revival

Man City are back to the top of the Premier League.

Sure, they may only be above their neighbours on alphabetical grounds but their 6-0 victory at the weekend was further proof that Pep Guardiola boast perhaps the most potent attacking force in Europe.

You may say ‘It was only Watford…’ but the Hornets were undefeated in the league before they came up against City — and the two teams were universes apart.

Just another hat-trick for Sergio

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Just another hat-trick for Sergio

Sergio Aguero scored his sixth Premier League hat-trick and while he’s worthy of much praise and analysis, every Premier League fan has been aware of his talent for years now.

Let’s talk about his strike partner, Gabriel Jesus.

Everything about this transfer set him up to fail.

Extra expectation comes with a Brazilian passport and easy to forget that he really hadn’t played much football before he arrived on English shores.

He scored 28 goals in 83 games over two seasons for Palmeiras and he hadn’t played for Brazil’s senior side when it was announced that he would join City.

Then there was the looming shadow of Robinho with every media outlet calling back to the ex-Real Madrid forward’s ultimately underwhelming spell in Manchester.

Robinho’s City career went downhill rapidly

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Robinho’s City career went downhill rapidly

For a teenager to make the transition from the Brazilian league to the Premier League and actually improve his performances with zero bedding in time is extraordinary.

Jesus’ introduction into the squad last season was so seamless that he leapt above Aguero, one of Europe’s most consistently brilliant goalscorers, in the pecking order.

Many thought that Jesus’ arrival would result in the sale of Aguero, as was the popularity of only starting with one proper forward at the time.

That popularity still exists but Man City are bucking the trend and in some style.

There’s room for both these days

AFP or licensors
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There’s room for both these days

Guardiola has been somewhat forced into playing two up front, simply because both have been too good to leave out.

As far as forced hands go, it’s worked out spectacularly well.

The pair have eleven goals (Aguero six, Jesus five) between already this season.


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The new system has been harsh on Leroy Sane.

The German winger was arguably City’s best player during the second half of last season but Guardiola’s new ‘box’ of Aguero, Jesus and playmaking duo Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva has made Sane into a benchwarmer — though his cameos have been impressive.

Sane has been used effectively as an impact sub this season

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Sane has been used effectively as an impact sub this season

Strike partnerships in the Premier League were on the brink of extinction not long ago.

The days of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, and Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, seemed a hallmark of a bygone era.

The sheer surplus of attacking midfielders, No10s and false 9s in the Premier League meant that only one out-and-out centre-forward in the starting XI became the norm.

But with City’s South American couple working together with such devastating effectiveness, will other Premier League managers follow suit?

Vintage

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Vintage

Last season half the league switched to 3-4-3 at some point in hope of emulating Antonio Conte’s title-winning system at Chelsea.

Back threes are as common as they’ve ever been in the modern era right now.

How many more games do City’s front two have to dominate before we see others deploying two up top?

Obviously Aguero and Jesus have benefited from the brilliance of De Bruyne and Silva, two of the finest passers in Europe, but we’ve seen strike pairings work elsewhere in recent times.

Leicester partnered Jamie Vardy with Shinji Okazaki during their historic season.

Though generally this would work best for teams who expect to dominate possession as it means sacrificing a more defensively minded midfielder.

Jesus better have a good monthly plan because he’s been racking up the minutes

Reuters
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Jesus better have a good monthly plan because he’s been racking up the minutes

Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshuayi have the necessary attributes to form a formidable duo, particularly with the former’s prowess in the air and ability to hold the ball up.

A tweak in Spurs’ tactics would allow them a box of Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min — the South Korean has proved his finishing credentials in the last year.

Why not both?

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Why not both?

Defences have got used to dealing with one forward and creators in behind.

City have forced centre-backs to mark a forward each and so far this season no pairing has been able to contend with such a task.

Guardiola’s troops have scored 15 unanswered goals in their last three games — surely enough to persuade a few other teams to join in the rebirth of strike partnerships?

Watch this space.


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