Manchester City defender Kyle Walker made abundantly clear with his performance versus West Ham United this afternoon that he is not ready to give up his place in the Sky Blues’ XI without a fight.
City notch 5
The Premier League champions got the defence of their title underway earlier today, at the London Stadium.
Liverpool laid down a marker to Pep Guardiola’s men last night, with a 4-1 drubbing of Norwich City.
City, though, as they did on countless occasions last season, went on to respond in emphatic fashion.
The Manchester giants ran riot in the English capital, eventually putting 5 past a hapless West Ham side.
Raheem Sterling proved the star of the show, carrying his goalscoring exploits from the last couple of campaigns into this one, with a superbly-taken hat-trick.
Hat-trick for Raheem Sterling!
An ice cold finish from a man who has started the new season in red hot form!
— Watch #EarlyKickOff live on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) August 10, 2019
Gabriel Jesus and substitute Sergio Aguero, meanwhile, also opened their respective accounts for the season.
Walker vs Cancelo
On a day where Sterling understandably grabbed the headlines with his opening day treble, though, another of Manchester City’s less-heralded stars also caught the eye of many.
The player in question was Kyle Walker.
Right-back Walker’s place in the Citizens’ starting XI has come under threat this summer, following the big-money arrival of Joao Cancelo from Italian champions Juventus.
While his defensive instincts have often left a lot to be desired to this point in his career, Portuguese international Cancelo is one of the finest attacking full-backs in world football.
The former Inter Milan and Valencia man possesses a phenomenal engine, ability to beat opposing full-backs at will and a pinpoint delivery with his trusty right foot.
As such, on the back of a campaign during which he managed just a solitary Premier League assist in a side that scored almost 100 goals, Kyle Walker’s berth on the right side of City’s back-line looked set to come under immediate threat.
Walker stands tall
To say that the English international got off to a positive start in attempting to stave off the challenge of Cancelo this afternoon, though, would be putting it lightly.
Walker put in an absolute shift at the London Stadium, reminding those who may have forgotten exactly what a stellar full-back he can be on his day.
The English international set up City’s opener with a frightening show of pace down the right-flank, before squaring for Gabriel Jesus to prod home.
— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) August 10, 2019
And Walker did not stop there, proving far too much to handle for Hammers’ left-full Aaron Cresswell throughout proceedings.
The 29-year-old, crucially, also proved solid defensively, keeping the likes of Antonio Valencia and Felipe Anderson quiet when faced with the challenge.
However, what perhaps stood out more than anything with regards to Walker’s display this afternoon was his sheer determination.
The former Tottenham man, as he did in the Community Shield versus Liverpool last weekend, performed as though he had something to prove, both to himself, and to Pep Guardiola.
As such, save for a change in formation or a switch to the left flank, Joao Cancelo may find game-time tough to come by over the early weeks of the campaign, with Walker evidently not ready to give up his position without a fight.