David Silva, Sergio Aguero banish Kevin De Bruyne injury woes as Man City run riot
MANCHESTER, England -- Three points on Manchester City 6-1 Huddersfield in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.
1. Champions carry on where they left off
If any of Manchester City's rivals thought there was a possibility they may have lost any of their hunger following a record-breaking title triumph last season, Pep Guardiola's side put that to bed with an emphatic performance against Huddersfield Town.
Sergio Aguero hit the 13th hat trick of his City career and could have doubled that as Guardiola's men threatened to equal the club's record 10-1 victory over Huddersfield the last time they beat them in the league at home, in 1987.
But it was David Silva, making his first start of the season, that set the tempo with another masterful performance. The Spaniard was beaming as he walked on to the pitch carrying his son Mateo, months after he came out of his intensive care after being born prematurely.
And his son's presence brought out the best in Silva, who capped a stunning performance with a superb 30-yard free kick just after half time.
By then City were 3-1 up although it could have been far more. They almost killed the game off in the opening three minutes -- Huddersfield's Steve Mounie slicing a clearance on to his own crossbar and Gabriel Jesus smashing the ball into a painful area of goalkeeper Ben Hamer before kneeing another chance at him from close range.
But City had to wait for a devastating 10-minute spell midway through the first half with three superbly taken goals. After all the neat passing, Aguero's 25th minute opener came from a 70-yard clearance from goalkeeper Ederson, before cleverly chipping Hamer. Six minutes later Jesus scored neatly after Benjamin Mendy's bustling run before Aguero pounced on Hamer's poor handling for a third. The only blip was Jon Stankovic's strike from a long throw.
Silva got a deserved goal just after the break, Aguero completed his hat trick form a Mendy cross before Terrence Kongolo's unfortunate own goal completed the rout.
2. No De Bruyne, no problem
For most clubs, losing a player with the quality of Kevin De Bruyne would be a potentially fatal blow to their title hopes but City have the resources to cope.
Guardiola shuffled his starting lineup and started with a back three, Bernardo Silva and Mendy as wing-backs and a front two of Aguero and Jesus.
And if that didn't work, the City boss had incredible strength on the bench with seven substitutes that cost more than £200 million, including £60m record signing Riyad Mahrez as well as Raheem Sterling, Sane and highly rated youngster Phil Foden.
For Mahrez, it might have been a humbling experience to be dropped to the bench in only the second Premier League game of the season but such is the strength in depth, as City try to compete for four trophies.
Guardiola experimented with a 3-5-2 system last season but the option was shelved when Mendy was ruled out for eight months with a cruciate knee injury. But it's a way of packing even more attacking options into his team, particularly against that sides that stubbornly refuse to attack.
City offered threats all over the pitch. Aguero and Jesus dropped deep to pull Huddersfield apart, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte spent more time in the opposition third than their own while both Silva stars picked and probed all afternoon.
A player of De Bruyne's quality will be missed, but City are well-placed to deal without him for now.
3. Huddersfield have relegation jitters already
Huddersfield worked miracles staying in the Premier League last season, but it might be an even greater surprise if they are to stay out of the bottom three a second year.
David Wagner's side have won just one of their last 14 Premier League matches -- at West Brom, who were subsequently relegated -- and they look desperately short of confidence.
Last season's success was built on two morale-boosting opening victories albeit the opposition was entirely different -- Crystal Palace during Frank de Boer's disastrous brief spell in charge and fellow promoted side Newcastle United.
They have had a far harder pair of opening fixtures this time around against possibly the two most attack-minded teams in the Premier League, Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea and now City.
Wagner went ultra-defensive with his side holding a line of five defenders on the edge of the box and another five midfielders holding another line in front of them.
It meant the game was played entirely in their own half to such an extent that when they crossed the half way line in the 24th minute, there was a sarcastic cheer from the away end.
Huddersfield's attacking hopes weren't helped by the loss of former City midfielder Aaron Mooy, who was attending the birth of his child. The Australian is one of the few players capable of making a pass under pressure and his composure was missed in the centre of the pitch.
Wagner will say their survival hopes will depend more on games against sides around them, but they need to get the feel-good factor back soon, starting with next week's match against relegation rivals Cardiff City.