Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Five thoughts on Manchester City 1 Everton 0

Manchester City cut Chelsea’s lead down to three points in the title race after a 1–0 win over Everton. Here are five thoughts on the match.

Aguero’s injury a sad sight for football fans

Sergio Aguero’s unfortunate injury dominated the narrative of this game. In fact, for a long time it affected the atmosphere at the Etihad, including the psyche of the players on both sides. Aguero had started the season in scintillating form, carrying City on both, the domestic and continental front. The Argentine has scored goals out of nothing, finishing with a surety and touch rarely seen in the Premier League. Seeing him leave in tears was a heartbreaking moment for most fans, especially those who wanted a genuine title race.

Nasri takes the creative ownership

He may not be the easiest player to like and can often go missing during the most crucial moments. What is undeniable now, is that City’s creative burden now falls at the feet of Samir Nasri. With no David Silva and Aguero, the Frenchman is the only remaining player who has the technical ability to provide something different to the Citizens attack. On the evidence of his display against the Toffees, Nasri might well relish the greater responsibility. Nasri made six key passes with a passing accuracy of 87.2% (courtesy of whoscored.com) enabling City to hold on to the ball and keep the team moving forward. In a crucial Champions League match at Roma, Manuel Pellegrini will hope his attacking midfielder delivers the goods.

Fernando and Mangala could have seen red

One of the big problems in refereeing football right now is that the definitions of dangerous play are subject to human interpretation. Exactly how Fernando and Eliaquim Mangala escaped red cards in this match is befuddling. Mangala went to attack a corner with his feet high resulting in his studs finding Samuel Eto’o’s back. A few minutes later, Fernando was also lucky to escape red as his feet went high up in a tackle to find Gareth Barry’s head. The former Porto duo are yet to convince in their debut Premier League campaign and their antics in this match are unlikely to endear them to many new fans.

Everton put in another disappointing performance

Like their rivals on Merseyside, Everton are struggling to replicate the exceptional standards they set last season. There just isn’t the same buoyancy and vibrance in the Toffees play this campaign. Injuries have played a part, but the midfield isn’t stroking the ball around with assurance and the defence is short on confidence. Muhammed Besic is a promising player who should come good in due time, but is being caught out by the pace of the Premier League. In mitigation, Barry has started losing the ball with alarming regularity and it’s clear that James McCarthy’s absence is a big blow for Everton. Further up, Samuel Eto’o seems to be the only player with a genuine creative spark, which is a damning indictment on his younger colleagues. Romelu Lukaku is not playing like a 28 million pound signing up front, while the wingers aren’t producing much either. Martinez has plenty of good will left in the bank, but it can’t mask the fact that at the moment, Everton’s season is stuck in a very disappointing neutral.

City back in the title race

City should be motivated and excited after this victory brings them just one win behind Chelsea in the title race. In stead, a feeling of anti climax lingered at the Etihad. The loss of Aguero is a hammer blow. It’s not easy to compensate for the absence of a world class talent. The only consolation for City is that their schedule for the next month isn’t the most taxing. After all, City’s squad of millionaires is assembled to deal with such eventualities. In Nasri, Yaya Toure, James Milner, Frank Lampard and Edin Dzeko, the Champions should have enough to stay in the title race until Aguero hopefully returns. Its time for City’s big squad to come to the rescue.