For Pep Guardiola, Manchester City’s friendly against Preston was all about building match fitness for his players ahead of the Community Shield show against Leicester on August 7.
But Guardiola will also have been quietly pleased with what he saw of a City side made up of a mix of senior stars and youngsters looking to prove their worth ahead of the 2021-22 Premier League campaign.
Riyad Mahrez opened the score for City with a stunning free kick in the first half before City youngsters James McAtee and Samuel Edozie teamed up brilliantly to take a routine 2-0 win.
Here, Sports post takes you through the five things we learned from City’s win over Preston on Tuesday night…
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City beat Preston 2-0 in their first pre-season friendly
1) MAHREZ HIS SILKY SELF
While we can’t read too much about the pre-season exhibition game, one thing that stood out was Riyad Mahrez’s usual class – picking up where he left off at the end of last season for the Premier League champions.
The Algerian winger has been threatening a makeshift City side the whole time – he brilliantly linked up with Joao Cancelo on the right wing.
Mahrez injected the first real quality moment in the friendly with his superb free kick in the 27th minute.
Preston goalkeeper Connor Ripley had absolutely no chance as Mahrez’s curling free kick sailed into the top right corner of his net.
After scoring the opener, Mahrez was back at it for City, nearly helping his side double his side’s lead just before half time after playing a brilliant ball to the back post, only for youngster Cole Palmer to win his attempt. hit the bar.
Riyad Mahrez scored a brilliant free kick on Tuesday to put City at 1-0 against Preston
2) LEADER FERNANDINHO CONTINUES TO PROVE UNWORTHY
Last season there were doubts as to whether veteran Fernandinho would extend his stay in Manchester after seeing his playing time cut and his deal expiring this summer.
But he impressively fought his way back to Pep Guardiola’s side towards the end of last season when they advanced to the Champions League final, and his experience proved invaluable.
And he was rewarded with a new one-year contract in June, something City supporters were very happy about.
His winning mentality and vast experience will continue to be vital to City in their quest for a new Premier League title, as they desperately seek their first-ever Champions League crown.
And on Tuesday, when Guardiola fielded an inexperienced team, Fernandinho’s presence once again proved invaluable. The Brazilian midfielder dominated the process and was in complete control, while proving to be a true leader for the youngsters.
There was one phase in the first half when Guardiola called Fernandinho for a chat on the sidelines and communicated with his captain to try and help City take control of the game. The trusted figure of the Spaniard.
The youngsters of City will have learned a lot together with the experienced Fernandinho
3) MENDY STILL HAS TO CONVINCE GUARDIOLA
Oleksandr Zinchenko established himself as City’s first-choice left-back for most of last season, thanks to his consistent performances both up front and defense, proving the downfall of Benjamin Mendy of late.
The Frenchman always proves to be a threat, but defensively he still has plenty to answer for.
And that was seen again on Tuesday after a few headless moments early in the exhibition game of the season.
But on offense he again proved a danger and his soaring run in the first half for his muffled header to hit Palmer, who then missed from close range, was brilliant.
Guardiola will demand consistency from his left-back, who has not been helped by injuries during his time at the Etihad.
Benjamin Mendy must show more consistency to earn his place in City’s starting lineup
4) GUARDIOLA WILL APPROVING THE SECOND OF THE CITY
After Phil Foden’s incredible rise as City starter last season, Guardiola is looking for his next big thing.
He put in a young team to give the academy players a chance to show what they’ve got, and after a rather tacky first half they came alive in the second.
And Guardiola – a perfectionist when it comes to good football – will certainly have endorsed City’s second goal of the evening.
James McAtee and Samuel Edozie were brought into play at halftime when Guardiola made 10 substitutions and their introduction quickly paid off after they combined so brilliantly to double City’s advantage over Preston.
McAtee had already warned Preston’s defenses with a mazy run, and after a lack of opposition pressure, he punished them by slipping in Edozie who headed home emphatically after a good build-up play.
Samuel Edozie (left) celebrates after scoring City’s second after a great build-up play
5) THE CITY’S DNA IS CLEAR FOR EVERYONE TO SEE
Since Guardiola’s arrival at City, he has turned his side into arguably the greatest attacking unit in European football thanks to their free-flowing and fast pace.
The opposition defense can’t keep up with City’s heart-pounding play, and Guardiola will have been pleased with what he saw of his young players on Tuesday night.
While City’s second will attract a lot of attention, the pace on the ball of a team full of youngsters was very impressive.
Whenever Preston pressured City’s youngsters, they did not shy away from their responsibility and as a team they held the ball so comfortably.
That style of play comes very much from Guardiola and that DNA is clearly imprinted in the academy.
The City youngsters looked very impressive on the ball when pressured by Preston