September 20, 2018
by siepod
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Disappointing defeat, more the manner than the outcome – player notes

A couple of quick notes/thoughts on the performances of the players last night:

Ederson – good from a possession point of view but frustrating that he never fully extended for either goal. Kudos for the great save from “Nodad” though

Walker – looked more like a 50 pence player than £50 million. Sloppy in possession and offered no real width down the right all game.

Delph – horrendous mistake for the goal and never really recovered. Some sloppy passing again and a few wild speculative shots in attempt to make amends.

Laporte – thought he looked solid again, grown into the team and Pep style of play. Got undone in behind a few times though, needs to be wary of space when pushing forward

Stones – another standard Stones performance, looking confident and assured on the ball but sometimes wasn’t switched on to space in behind

Dinho – not often we say this but he was very poor. Lost ball several times, looked tired and out of sorts a lot of the game. Hopefully the decision not to by a new DM won’t bite us in the ass.

Sterling – ran his heart out and first half was the only one really trying anything. Unlucky to be just offside for the ruled out goal. Didn’t get much service nor have many options.

Bernardo – terrible down the wing. In a game crying out for width he did little to offer it, and slowed down many attacks in the process. Better when moved inside and a tidy finish

Silva – rare out of sorts game for the genius. Usually when we play bad it’s because more than a few players have an off day, and this was one of those occasions. To be fair to him though, the lack of movement into space from others made his job harder

Gündoğan – terrible. Not much else I can say. Had that special CL night against Barca but that was just a distant memory last night. Slow in possession, offered little, and looked like a lesser league player unable to make the step up in that performance

Jesus – appropriate that his name is often associated with the exclamation used against him. Seems to offer lots of movement, dropping deep, making options etc until the final third then puts cement boots on. In the box his movement into space is non existent, and I think sometimes he is looking for the penalty more than the chance to score. Great raw talent but still needs plenty of work and a million miles away from Agüero

Sane – did well when he came on, beating Rafael to create the goal, but then seemed to cut inside every time. Needs to work on his decision making (shades of a young Ronaldo making the wrong choices) as he undoubtedly has all the makings of a star. Should have done far better with the header too.

Agüero – the fact his first touch went out for a throw summed up the night. Did ok when he came on, offered far more movement and options than Jesus, but should perhaps have done better than put it straight down the throat of the keeper with his one good chance.

Mahrez – as I seem to say every time I see him at City, what was the point. Again I was left more confused by why we signed him. Game cried out for width, but then he proceeded to cut inside, slow play down and try and see how many crosses he could bend in from the edge of the area despite the box being packed. In the days of Džeko we could have had a few, but he needs to play with the team.

Overall the passing was poor, the play was lethargic and we were again undone by a classic pacy counter-attack. I still think we’ll win the group (not that I’m as concerned about CL as our owners/some) but there was definitely some cause for concern. Need a strong performance at the weekend (when we’ll no doubt be hacked all over) to get back to winning ways straight away.

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September 5, 2016
by siepod
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Silva can’t stop scoring

David Silva helped himself to another 2 goals as Spain crushed Liechtenstein 8-0 in their opening World Cup qualification game. The Manchester City midfielder, who grabbed both goals in a 2-0 win against Belgium the other night, gave Spain a 3-0 lead following a neat assist from Vitolo:
 

 
Silva then thought he had grabbed his 2nd at 7-0, only to be denied by the referee:

 
Not to be denied, he did manage to grab his second moments later, after a smart lay-off from Manchester City team-mate Nolito allowed him the chance to produce a smart finish from close range:

 
Added to his 2 goals against Belgium, David has now scored 28 for Spain, taking him into 5th overall in the all-time top goalscorers, 1 ahead of former Liverpool man Fernando Morientes and one behind Fernando Hierro.
 

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April 12, 2016
by siepod
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Manchester City 2-1 West Bromwich Albion: Match Report

City managed to grab only their first back to back Premier League wins since October as they saw off West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, although they were forced to work for the result. As I suggested, Samir Nasri was handed his first start since being injured in October, while Pellegrini made several other changes with an eye on the return clash against PSG, including changes at both full-backs and Fabian Delph coming into midfield. Wilfried Bony was also handed a start as Pellegrini opted for his preferred 4-4-2 attacking formation. Despite the attacking line-up, City found themselves under the cosh early on and were inexplicably 1-0 behind after only 6 minutes when Stéphane Sessegnon gave the visitors the lead. Kolarov failed to block the speculative effort from the edge of the box, and an unsighted Joe Hart completely failed to react as the ball flew beyond him at the near post, a goal that will have to go down as a goalkeeper error for me.

Thankfully the goal woke City up as they began to string some possession together, and it was no surprise when they found a way back into the game, after they were quite rightly awarded a penalty after Kolarov was felled in the box. The ref could have stopped the play sooner after Agüero was crudely brought down by Sandro, but allowing play to go on, he was left with no option but to blow up the second time after goalscorer Sessegnon brought down Kolarov in the area. Agüero, still looking slightly uneasy at the earlier tackle, picked himself up to deliver a confident spot kick beyond the outstretched reach of Ben Foster, who went the right way.

City began to dominate possession, but were largely limited to blocked shots as they failed to take an advantage into the break, while West Brom lost Salomón Rondón to injury, Craig Gardner taking his place. The second half continued in a similar manner, City creating few opportunities, and making several changes in personnel, but struggling to beat the well organised West Brom defensive line until a moment of brilliance from Kevin De Bruyne gave the hosts the lead. A sublime piece of skill and quick thinking pass picked out Navas in the box, who in turn was able to turn the ball over to Agüero. Some last ditch defending prevented the Argentinean claiming his second of the game, but in came the returning Nasri on the follow up to slot the ball home from close range.Samir NasriSamir Nasri

 

Despite taking the lead, City seemed to dip in confidence, and West Brom were creating the better of the chances in the closing quarter, and should perhaps have drawn level right at the death when James McClean dragged his shot just wide of the post with everyone beaten. Thankfully for the City faithful, the hosts were able to hold on to final put to bed that absolutely embarrassing stat regarding back to back Premier League games. With the result interjected with the impressive and potentially valuable 2-2 draw away at Paris in the Champions League, all eyes will now be on the return leg on Tuesday evening to see if they can continue their recent improved form, and make history in qualifying for the Champions’ League semi-final for the first time in their history. Personally, I feel the away result gives them a great opportunity, but the outcome depends on which City turn up, and more importantly whether they can shake of the defensive frailties and the Champions League insecurities of recent seasons.

MOTM: Samir Nasri – the returning Frenchman seemed almost single-handedly intent on changing the game at times, and was duly rewarded when on hand to claim his goal. Added to his impressive work rate and passing stats, this game was a great advert for what City have been missing for so long.

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April 9, 2016
by siepod
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Manchester City v West Bromwich Albion: Pre match thoughts…

Do I honestly think City will win the Champions League this season?
No

Can Pep still attract top drawer players if we don’t qualify for next season’s competition?
Yes

Will it be embarrassing if we miss out on the top 4, especially if it’s at the hands of United?
Absolutely

Do I honestly think City will win the Champions League this season?
As great as we have been at times in the competition this season, we’ve failed to sort out our defensive frailties in both the Champions League and the league, and ultimately I think that will be our undoing sadly. As great as the Paris result was, they will have to come and attack us in the return leg, and truth be told most times they went forward they looked like doing damage. Mangala had a good game for once, but Otamendi once again looked easily exposed and Zlatan was constantly allowed far too much time and space on the ball in and around the box, not to mention the ease at which he was winning the aerial battle. Hopefully we will do enough back at the Etihad to progress further and continue making history, but if we come up against a Barcelona or Bayern Munich, I feel it would be a bridge too far for this current crop of players.

Can Pep still attract top drawer players if we don’t qualify for next season’s competition?
There’s no doubting City pulled an absolute masterstroke in getting the most in demand manager in the World, albeit for only 3 seasons. And it will be that same attraction that I believe will see Pep land any player he genuinely sets his sights on, even if City don’t have the offer of Champion’s League football next season. I hate the phrases project and transition, as I think too many clubs (look just down the road for an example) use it as an excuse for poor performances, but the truth is Pep would be more than able to sell his vision and that of the club to any player this summer.

Will it be embarrassing if we miss out on the top 4, especially if it’s at the hands of United?
It looks likely that Leicester will seal the Premier League title in the next few games, and as well as they’ve done and as much credit they deserve, it’s an absolute embarrassment to us and every other club of similar stature that it has happened. The embarrassment in missing out on the top 4 with such a talented array of players would only be amplified in my opinion. The fact that United are so close to use despite their constant berating by the media and their own fans speaks volumes about how poor we have been. After a promising start the wheels have well and truly fallen off, and our results against the top 8 in the league are beyond embarrassing. Hopefully despite the distraction of the Champions League, the players will still give it their all in the league with the hopes of finishing in the best position possible.

With all that, it will be interesting to see how the team approach the weekend clash against West Brom. Several hints have already been given about Pellegrini possibly resting players with one eye on the return clash against PSG on Tuesday, but hopefully whatever team he puts out will be more than capable of getting all 3 points. Personally I expect to see a 4-4-2 and first start for Nasri since his injury lay off.

 

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April 7, 2016
by siepod
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Paris St-Germain 2-2 Manchester City: Match Report

Manchester City edged closer to the Champion’s League semi-finals on Tuesday night with a 2-2 draw away at PSG. City, playing in the quarter finals for the first time, rode their luck at times, but will be delighted to come away from the game with the tie all square in a game which will be remembered more for the performance of match referee Milorad Mazic than that of the two teams. Manuel Pellegrini was again without Yaya Touré, Raheem Sterling and Vincent Kompany, although Joe Hart returned after picking up an injury against Manchester United a few weeks ago. The returning Kevin De Bruyne was also handed his 2nd start in 4 days, while Bacary Sagna came in for Pablo Zabaleta at right-back. The Chilean was also able to welcome back Fabian Delph, who was named on the bench, although fellow midfielder Samir Nasri missed out as he is ineligible for the competition.

Mazic took just 1 minute to make a mark, booking former Chelsea defender David Luiz for a foul on Sergio Agüero. De Bruyne and Fernandinho then went close as City began the brighter. Controversy then reigned as PSG then felt they should have had a penalty. City were cut open and Mangala was forced to race back and try to tackle fellow French international Matuidi. Although Mangala got no contact on the ball, replays suggest that Matuidi was already going down before Mangala interjected, suggesting the referee may just have got the decision right, although few could have argued had a penalty been given. Minutes later the referee was again in on the action, producing his 2nd card of the night when booking City defender Gael Clichy for a needless foul on Serge Aurier.

12 minutes in the ref was pointing to the spot, as David Luiz went down in the box. The chance came after Hart punched the ball away when catching it was the better option, allowing PSG to whip it back into the danger area where Luiz went over. If City got lucky with the first decision, you could argue they were unlucky with this one, as the former Chelsea man appeared to deliberately go looking for the foul, hooking his leg over that of Sagna to win his team the spot kick. Foolish from Sagna no doubt to leave a leg dangling in the box, but definitely a display of gamesmanship from the Brazilian international in my opinion. Ibrahimović stepped up to take but England Number 1 Joe Hart was more than equal to it, pushing the penalty away to make amends for his initial error. The save is Hart’s 2nd penalty save in the competition this season, and his 3rd in the last four he has faced.

David Silva then went close with a header after a great cross from Navas, but the little Spaniard, not renowned for his aerial ability, pulled his shot wide of the target. PSG should then have taken the lead themselves when Otamendi went roaming and lost the ball. The hosts were quick to exploit the space, but Ibrahimović was unable to find the target despite being clean through. There was no doubt the home side were dominating possession, with City content to try and absorb the pressure and hit the Parisians on the counter attack. 10 minutes before the break Fernando became the 3rd name into the book, after a foul on Brazilian team mate Luiz, although replays suggest the PSG man was again looking for the foul.

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2 minutes later the deadlock was broken, and it was City who took the lead. Fernando broke up the play in the middle, releasing fellow Brazilian Fernandinho, who carried the ball before slipping it out wide to De Bruyne. The Belgian took a touch before producing an emphatic finish beyond Trapp for a vital away goal. The lead proved to be short lived however, as Fernando, instrumental in the City goal, made a horrific error in gifting Ibrahimović an equaliser. Hart slid the ball out to the midfielder, and with Ibrahimović closing in and Hart instructing the former Porto man to go left, he instead tried to turn right only to see the ball cannon off the Swede and beyond a hapless Hart to give PSG an easy leveler.

It remained all square at the break, and just after Matuidi picked up a booking for a foul on Otamendi, a caution that will see him miss the return leg in Manchester. Cavani then found himself on the end of a cross from Maxwell, but his resulting header failed to trouble Hart. At the other end, Fernandinho dragged an effort wide after again being set through by Fernando. PSG began to dominate, although in a rare moment of brilliance David Silva lost his marker and tried to bend the ball in, but the rather tame right footed effort proved easy for Trapp. Minutes later, PSG took the lead from the corner. Former United man Di Maria whipped the ball in, and Cavani saw his effort denied with a fine save from Hart, only for former City academy player Adrien Rabiot to tap home from close range. It was almost 3-1 soon after when Ibrahimović beat Sagna to the ball, only to see his header come back off the crossbar.

City then began to probe in search of an equaliser, Jesús Navas smashing an effort wide when he perhaps had better options available. The visitors were eventually handed a lifeline after some terrible defending from PSG. Sagna whipped the ball in from a tight angle, and with the entire back four slow to react, Fernandinho found himself completely unmarked to fire home, the ball taking an almighty deflection off Thiago Silva to spin beyond the outstretched arm of Kevin Trapp. Sensing blood, City threw on Delph for De Bruyne, in an attempt to inject fresh impetus into midfield, while PSG made a couple of substitutions themselves. Mangala was next to find himself in the referee’s book when he raced out and felled Matuidi from behind, while Navas joined him soon after for kicking the ball away after City conceded a free kick. With the game drawing to a stalemate, Silva tried to pick out Agüero, but Luiz somehow managed to turn the ball away from the Argentine with a fantastic piece of defending. It proved to be the last real chance of note, although City were definitely in the ascendancy in the closing stages.

Both sides will feel they had chances to win the game, with PSG definitely wasting some great opportunities. There is no doubt City, the sole remaining English team in the competition, will be the happier with the result. The card happy action of the referee on the night also means Matuidi and Luiz will miss the return leg, while with the vital away goals will also give City an added advantage at the Etihad. City skipper Joe Hart certainly wasn’t counting his chickens however, saying “It was a crazy game that we were involved with. It was a special night. 2-2 is a result. We’ll wait and see if it’s a good result”

“The away goals are important and hopefully we’ll make them count. We were dangerous all game and so were PSG. Both teams were always going to have chances but we did well tonight. We picked ourselves up after a terrible first goal. We made mistakes tonight and so did they. We’re making history for this club and we don’t want it to end.”

“I thought the defence was fantastic tonight, Gael, Bacs, Manga and Nico – we had a tough game against Bournemouth on Saturday, don’t forget. I’m proud of our team” he added. City now face West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad at the weekend, before welcoming PSG for the return fixture on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see if Pellegrini opts to rest players with one eye on the return leg of the Champion’s League, or picks his strongest team at the weekend given the precarious league position of City in relation to qualifying for next season’s competition. One thing is for sure though, the much maligned manager can be happy with the result which gives his side a great chance of reaching the semi-finals in less than a weeks’ time.

MOTM: Fernandinho – the Brazilian midfielder was pivotal for City in both defence and attack, running himself into the ground at the heart of the engine room, while also turning provider for City’s first and grabbing that all important equaliser himself.

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