Anis looks back at Manchester City’s 5-1 win over Huddersfield in the FA Cup and draws some interesting conclusions.
An assured performance
Pep Guardiola loves his domestic trophies and tonight’s side was proof of that. Bar Claudio Bravo and Aleix Garcia (the latter of whom was excellent), it was pretty much a first choice eleven for City. Huddersfield meanwhile elected to reserve some of their best players for their Championship run – obviously not fancying their chances at the Etihad.
It was just then that they somehow took the lead early on only to not know what to do with it and consequently crumble before they could give Manchester City a proper game. City themselves responded brilliantly to conceding and their high-tempo play paid dividends when they scored three goals in the space of eight minutes to put the game to bed.
There were moments of real quality, especially from Sane and Sterling who look like they could play with any striker in the whole world. If those two carry on this rich vein of form then their goals and assist numbers could look ludicrously good by the end of the season.
Elsewhere, Garcia slotted into Yaya Toure’s spot with ease, allowing Fernandinho and De Bruyne to bomb forward while City’s back-line was relatively untroubled throughout the game. Jesus Navas and Kelechi Iheanacho made rare appearances and they both combined as Kelechi scored on his return to the side. Where Iheanacho’s future lies is uncertain, but now looks increasingly away from the Etihad.
Sad Claudio Bravo
Something’s different with Claudio Bravo these days. He doesn’t look happy when he’s playing nor does it look like he believes in himself anymore. For all intents and purposes, it appears playing for Manchester City has broken him.
Rocking a can’t-be-arsed-to-shave stubble and an even less bothered facial expression, Bravo seems to just get about his business for whatever insignificant game he’s been asked to fill in for Caballero. He doesn’t look interested and he doesn’t look like he particularly cares much either. The media scrutiny, the constant satirical mocking and the clown image that’s been built of him across the past six months looks to have gotten to him. The fight you’d expect to see from a goalkeeper who’s just been dropped literally isn’t there.
It was another soft goal he conceded today, one you’d expect your goalkeeper to save. It might have taken a slight deflection but his only other save looked like an accident too and was met with ironic cheers by fans who would be more than happy to see the back of him this summer. It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for a keeper who came to City regarded as one of the best; a trophy-hoarding winner at Barcelona and a champion back in Chile. Now, he’s nothing more than a meme.
Sergio Aguero fighting back
I really, really worried about Sergio Aguero a month ago. Gabriel Jesus looked like the certified gem he was made out to be and Aguero’s poor performances were starting to come at crucial moments. The end looked nigh for the Argentinan but such is the fickleness of football that it took only three games for Aguero to climb back onto his throne.
Aguero played very well in the first encounter with Huddersfield two weeks ago, bettering it with a clutch performance against Monaco and now an even better game against Huddersfield at the Etihad. “The best I saw” of Sergio Aguero this season was Pep Guardiola’s assessment post-game and it’d be hard to disagree.
It might have only been a Championship outfit but Aguero really took them the sword. He was dribbling through and around them, buzzing across pitch and interchanging wonderfully with Sterling and Sane. He often found himself in City’s own full-back positions trying pressure Huddersfield’s midfielders which would have no doubt please Guardiola. What excited Pep the most about his game though? “The tempo of his running” he said.
The effort and desire on show is something we’ve never seen on this scale from Sergio Aguero. It’s clear he wants to continue being a part of City’s future and his recent performances are proof he is prepared to fight tooth and nail to ensure that.