After a superb second-half turn-around against Arsenal, Adam Bailey rates the individual performances of Manchester City’s players.
Claudio Bravo – 6
It’s not often Claudio Bravo escapes a grilling, but today he does. On a day where the odds were heavily in favour of his fellow countryman Alexis Sanchez pulling his shorts down and really hammering home just how naff he is, it was actually a pretty straightforward 90 minutes for the goalkeeper who has had a bit of a crap time since moving to Manchester this summer. He’ll never be the intimidator Joe Hart was in the 18-yard-box – Theo Walcott was always going to score when he found himself one on one with the keeper – but he did alright today. So fair play.
Pablo Zabaleta – 5
Zaba was played in his actual position in this game, but resembled a rabbit in the headlights as Arsenal bombed forward in the first half. Got forward as he always does but couldn’t get himself on the scoresheet for the second time in three days and replaced at half time by Bacary Sagna.
Nicolás Otamendi – 6.5
There are two sides to this strange defender. There’s one that slips into tackles with the grace of an elephant and another that keeps top forwards out of big games. Both were on show in the 2-1 win as he was pulled out of position for Walcott’s opener and then dusted himself down to make sure Sanchez was anonymous in the second half. There was still time for a ridiculous tackle on the edge of the box five minutes from time, but the performance was, in general, stable.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 6.5
After going down in the first five minutes, City adopted a more no-nonsense approach to defending – an art Kolarov and his big left foot excel in. Kolarov was solid in the second half, winning the majority of his aerial duels and punting the ball into dangerous areas from deep. Sometimes, as Guardiola knows, ‘getting rid’ is the right thing to do. Nevertheless, if Kolarov remains a regular fixture in the back four after January, City will continue to have problems.
Gaël Clichy – 6
No longer the reliable full-back he was last season, Clichy has had a bad time of it recently. However, the Frenchman deserves credit for the way he dug in and kept Arsenal’s wingers quiet.
Fernando – 8
With İlkay Gündoğan now in football heaven and big bro Fernandinho suspended, Fernando was tasked with keeping the one of the league’s most creative players at bay. Take a quick look at Mesut Özil’s match stats and you get a decent idea of what a good job the Brazilian did. Blowing away the threat of Arsenal’s attacking midfielders like a strong breeze clearing coke cans in a car park, Fernando performed excellently alongside Yaya Touré.
Yaya Touré – 8
Call him the Ivorian God Metronomous. This new, streamlined version of Touré may not wield the power it once did, but the 33-year-old’s passing range and ability to retain possession is still second to none. Arsenal are rarely forced into chasing the ball so much, but Touré made sure that happened in the second half, recycling possession in a simple and efficient manner. This was proof that Touré can still be a key player in the most important of fixtures.
David Silva – 6.5
Even when he’s having a bad game, as he did today, Silva still comes up with the goods. It was a tough game for the Spaniard, nothing was coming off for him. But then, in the opening minutes of the second half, a sublime clip found Leroy Sané lurking behind the Arsenal defence and City were level. His ability to create something out of nothing has, and always will be, priceless.
Raheem Sterling – 8
You can have all the ability in the world, but if your head isn’t right, you’re very unlikely to succeed. Fortunately for Manchester City, Raheem Sterling’s mentality matches his talent. Many players his age would’ve retreated into humiliation after missing a point-blank header just minutes after Arsenal had opened the scoring, but it was Sterling who rallied the troops, barking orders to his teammates and driving at Arsenal’s defence. He was rewarded for his tenacity as his left-footed strike sealed a big three points for his side.
Leroy Sané – 7.5
I don’t have kids, but I imagine the feeling I experienced when that fluffed shot wriggled its way into the Arsenal net was a bit like watching your son graduate, or something. I’ve got a real soft spot for Sané. He’s rawer than a plate of steak tartare, but I’ve always been a fan of wingers running at their men and that’s something Sané does brilliantly. That goal should give him the confidence he needs.
Kevin De Bruyne – 8
If there was a Ballon d’Or for passes, De Bruyne’s second-half switch to Raheem Sterling would’ve won it with no mither at all. Receiving the ball on the left flank, De Bruyne flicked the ball up and sent a 40-yard half-volley to the opposite side of the pitch with pinpoint accuracy. It was a piece of play strong enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck and more evidence of the Belgian’s world-class quality.
Bacary Sagna – 7
Kept City solid down the right, allowing Sterling and co. to focus on their attacking duties.
Jesús Navas – 6
A good player to bring on with the side so desperate to protect their lead.
Kelechi Iheanacho – N/A
No time to mark.
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