The manner of the win over Brentford was, frankly, as important as Kai Havertz’s goal. Are we seeing a new pragmatism from Mikel Arteta’s side?

A sign of champions, the theory has it, is winning ugly. No side can be at their very best all the time and so, over the course of a season, there will be occasions when a team that is going to win the league has to gut it out, to keep going with their plans, to keep believing, whether that means withstanding pressure or burgling a late goal. Not all points are won with beauty; some have to be fought for or stolen. In a title race, character matters as much as ability.

Or at least that was the theory. It perhaps matters less now that the elite are so much richer than the rest, the stratification of clubs much more defined, and when Pep Guardiola has implemented a tactical system that offers such control and consistency. It’s very rare that Manchester City find themselves clinging on, or that they are left desperately seeking late winners.

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