My first ever Premier League match would see two iconic managers of world football go head-to-head.
For the home side, Pep Guardiola was trying to instill his philosophy of passing from the back, playing beautiful, attacking football and winning titles galore.
His opponent was Crystal Palace manager, Sam Allardyce, who couldn’t be more contrasting, with his track record of route one, defence-minded football and vast experience of keeping teams in the Premier League.
Both very different men but both great managers in their own right. Let the battle commence.
In the first half, Silva put in a midfield display that I’d never seen before. I’ve watched the Spaniard on TV a few times but he’s not caught my eye in the past. Witnessing his skills in person completely changed my outlook on the man.
He was sensational. Not only did he help create and then score City’s opening goal, he was the driving force behind every Manchester City move – which there were plenty of.
With Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane on the wings and Gabriel Jesus up front, Silva found a ball to free, or set up, a chance for all three frontmen from seemingly nothing. I could understand why City fans nicknamed him Merlin.
If that attacking trio had been more clinical, it could have been 5-0 at half-time, that’s how good Silva and Manchester City were playing in the first half. Granted, yes, Palace weren’t up to scratch on their organised displays of late under Allardyce – Mamadou Sakho proving a big loss at the back – but the home side managed nearly 90% possession in that first half.
It felt like the kind of display everyone thought Guardiola would bring to England every week when he first arrived.
Seeing Kompany score
About five minutes into the second half, Vincent Kompany lashed a first-time shot right into the top corner of the goal. It was a personal pleasure to see Kompany score after so many injury problems. He seems like a decent guy and deserves the good run of form he’s currently in. Long may it last.
Five goals and a clean sheet
With the first goal coming just two minutes into the match, I thought a goalfest could be on the cards. But that proved to be the only goal of the game at half-time, despite City’s dominance.
However, they were much more clinical in the second half. The goal from Kompany really let the shackles off the team as Palace lost hope of salvaging anything from the match. Seeing Kevin De Bruyne become the highest assist-maker in the league this season by setting up Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi, as well as scoring a goal himself, was pretty special.
But witnessing a rare Man City clean sheet felt just due to the excellent displays from Kompany and Otamendi – both of whom could have been man of the match, as Silva went off after 60 minutes. Without them and Caballero’s save from Christian Benteke, it could have been a nervier afternoon.
I’ve visited the Etihad on two occasions now. The first time was a Muse gig where they didn’t play Hysteria. I remember being very frustrated by that but I did get to see the stadium from pitch level and recreate Sergio Aguero’s 2011/12 title-winning goal.
This time I was in the stands and, ironically, Aguero wasn’t in the matchday squad after being injured against Middlesbrough last weekend. Honestly speaking, I was a bit gutted about that news. I thought perhaps he’d make the bench and come on for 20 minutes, then I could at least say I’ve seen a Premier League legend play in the flesh.
Maybe a third visit will prove more lucky.
Leroy Sane and Christian Benteke were in my fantasy team and both failed to either score or assist. Sane, in particular, proved the most frustrating as he produced several runs, shots and crosses. But at least he picked up a point for a clean sheet.
I couldn’t have asked for much more from my first ever Premier League game. There were plenty of goals, amazing players on top form and the friendly atmosphere from the Man City fans made the experience very enjoyable.
I did also break my top attendance record with the 54,000 I was part of. I thought tickets were a bit pricey at £48 but, in the end, it was good value.
Manchester City 5 – 0 Crystal Palace
Ground rating: 8/10