It is a reduced tally of goals compared to previous years that is noticeable about the Mancunians this season – they have the best defence statistically, but only the 10th most potent attack. Their shooting accuracy has been 13th best in the top flight.
Surprisingly, 71 per cent of their away goals have come in the first half of matches, while 60 per cent of their hosts’ goals have arrived after the break. Last season offered a far more even spread over the 90 minutes.
Other changes seem more positive, not least the young Rodrigo Hernandez replacing Fernandinho, now 35, as midfield anchor. While his tackling and interception stats do not measure up to those of N’Golo Kante, his positional sense and accuracy of passing help City control possession.
Cultured centre-back Ruben Dias may also prove the long-term heir to Vincent Kompany, and John Stones seems to have eradicated the errors of judgment that marred his early career in Manchester.
Pending test results, though, we do not know what sort of team Guardiola will be able to field at the Bridge.