Manchester City huffed and puffed their way to a replay after an entertaining 0-0 draw with Championship side Huddersfield in the FA Cup. Guardiola fielded a second string side but one with enough quality to seal the deal. Unfortunately, City now have an extra game to contend with but their name is still firmly within reach of the draw.
A familiar pattern
It’s not really the time to worry at this very moment but our season does seem to follow this trend: Pick up form after a big defeat, win several games, watch form then drop before an embarrassing result seals the cycle.
Where City go on from here will be pivotal and determine whether they will win any trophies this season. Monaco have been hugely impressive and there are still many top sides left in the draw. If our best two chances at a trophy are the FA Cup and the Champions League then expect Guardiola to go all out in pursuit. Pep loves domestic cups and his record proves he takes these competitions seriously. Guardiola has also never failed to reach at least the semi-finals in his Champions League career – a phenomenal record – so a bow out before then will severely disappoint him.
City’s reserve wingers
It’s widely accepted among fans that City are their best when they have two quick wingers on either flank. The congest-the-midfield tactics of mid-season where Pep appeared to be shoehorning Gundogan by placing Silva or KDB wide are gone apparently. Pep now trusts Sane as much as he does Sterling. Only that’s it. Pep doesn’t like any of his other wingers. That’s why he played Silva and De Bruyne there. And yesterday was testament to his belief.
Nolito and Jesus Navas have all but disappeared from the face of the earth in recent months with the form of Sané and Sterling condemning them to sidelines. Nolito has flattered to deceive for longer than he has been good while Jesus Navas’ career continues on a trajectory decline. Pep doesn’t rate either of them and it’s easy to see why.
But where do City go from here? If Nolito and Jesus Navas both leave this summer, Sterling and Sané would have no deputies. Patrick Roberts is due to come back but would you really trust a relatively inexperienced 20-year-old to start 25 games for us next season? Either way, despite spending huge sums on forwards last season, it appears Pep might have to go back into the market for another one this summer.
Defending Sergio Aguero
Aguero took a lot of heat online post-game. Guilty of missing a couple of chances, some didn’t take the draw well and looked to pin-point blame somewhere. In reality, Aguero played one of his best games in a long time. He may have scuffed his lines once or twice but his general play and decision making was superb. He was darting around the pitch, picking it up deep and carrying it forward like he used to all the time. His passing was crisp and his creativity was there on show. Pep would’ve been no doubt pleased about his performance that resembled that of a certain Brazilian teenager. But will it change anything? Aguero played every minute against a Championship side with a Champions League knock-out tie against Monaco on the horizon. He might have done himself justice – but again – it came against weakened Huddersfield side. Will he even start on Tuesday? I’m not quite sure.