WITH the Premier League in its second international break of the season, Lucy McLane reviews Manchester City’s season so far…
With Manuel Pellegrini’s congratulatory one-year extension to his contract, seeing his deal extended until 2017, the Chilean kicked his team into a summer of intensive training, whilst looking at transfer targets early, which set City up with confidence and great new additions for the new season.
After one of the best starts a team has had in the English Premier League, with five consecutive wins, and without conceding a goal, City were off to flying start in their quest to reclaim the title.
Within a couple of games, City had become the unsuspected favourites at the bookies to win the Premier League. But City’s golden streak was lost after a terrible start to their European campaign in the Champions League, which sent City back to their domestic league low in confidence and knocked sincerely.
First to break City’s record was unsuspecting 12th placers, from last season, West Ham, a side that City usually beat at home. The next team to beat City was 5th place, Tottenham – a harder team for City but none the less a side City should beat. The 4-1 defeat was by far one of the worst City defeats and defensive displays in years. This sent City back to the Etihad desperately needing to revaluate players, formations and strategy.
What have been City’s pitfalls?
Willy Caballero – The Argentinian is still not good enough. He did have a good League Cup game two weeks ago, but this was against a failing Sunderland. Caballero does need more playing time to develop his skills and gain confidence, since joining a couple of years ago from Malaga, but this game against an unpredictable Tottenham side was not for him – we won’t mention the two offside goals though.
Raheem Sterling – What did they pay £49m for? At the moment it is unclear to see this highly priced player. His great pace is admired but his team ethos is lacking as he can be greedy with the ball, as he is likely to try and score rather than assist a goal. He has completed a massive step up from Liverpool so there is an unbelievable amount of pressure on this 20 year-old. Let’s hope this is him adjusting to the new team.
David Silva – The team rely on the Spanish International too much. Silva is City’s star player, which yes, is unfair to pick one, but everyone knows it. When he became injured after the Crystal Palace game City’s meltdown began – they were without their talisman for two weeks, which unsurprising was the two-week period City failed to win a match. Silva puts in crucial passes and sets up team attack and goals like no other player.
Sergio Aguero – Last season’s Golden Boot winner takes time to regain full form after an injury. After becoming injured in one of the opening games of the season and against Crystal Palace, Aguero only missed one game. Despite this, after any injury it seems the striker takes time to come back and put in performances that makes him one of the best players in the world.
Nicolas Otamendi – He is a great player and has put in some great performances for City since joining this season from Valencia. However, he needs to communicate more with the team and not give away sloppy penalties, but in time the Argentinian will be a consistent player for City and will provide excellent cover in the centre of defence.
After a nerve-racking second Champions League game, away to Borussia Mönchengladbach, City came away with a close 2-1 win from a very late penalty, which was needed to boost City’s spirits on return to the Premier League. City came back from their past two league defeats fighting and secured a record-breaking 6-1 win against Newcastle, due to Aguero scoring the fastest five goal haul in Premier League history. Despite the setbacks City have now climbed back up to the top of the league just in time for the international break. So
What’s going well for City?
Vincent Kompany – The skipper has ended his goalless drought from last season! Despite his recent injury, the Belgian has been putting in great performances, forming the back defensive line and keeping the team unified.
David Silva – As mentioned before, Silva is City’s playmaker. He has been putting in consistent performances for City, since joining the team in 2010 from Valencia for a bargain £25m. He has been involved in 75 Premier League goals since 2011/2012 season – more than any midfielder in that time. Silva is a world-class player for City and will put in more assists, pace and technique into the rest of this season.
Kevin De Bruyne – Now this is £54m well spent, and he is worth every penny. His flawless performances so far with City have made him one of the first names on the team sheet each game. Manuel Pellegrini has spoken out in praise of De Bruyne saying ‘it takes a special player to improve our squad’. Kevin you are world-class. Danke shön, Wolfsburg, it’s been a pleasure doing business.
Fernandinho – Last season the Brazilian was mediocre, struggling for form and his position within the team was under threat. With this pressure on him it seems to have transformed the ex Shaktar Donetsk player, as this season it seems he has made the defensive midfield role his own. Also, chipping in with a few goals makes him an essential cog in the City machine.
And finally, a general point, they have a balanced side this season. Both the wings are occupied by great pace in Jesus Navas and Sterling with extra help from De Bruyne. This appears to generate space in the middle of the pitch which allows Silva and Yaya Toure to play with more freedom, showing City as a unified team.
The win against Newcastle has taken City back to the top and has shown other Premier League teams that they are back fighting and mean business. After the international break they will still be challenging for every trophy that they are involved. They may have had a few difficulties along the way but Manchester City are still a team to be reckoned with.
By: Lucy McLane