The weekend marked the opening set of fixtures for February, a pivotal month which sees the return of the Champions League and lays the foundations for the business end of the season with every team around the continent fighting for every point possible. This weekend has been like no other for the City stars out on loan with shock victories, a late Derby day winner and a missed penalty to sum up the action.
Over in Spain, it was another disappointing weekend for Eliaquim Mangala. The Frenchman was determined to turn his fortunes around this week after his horror show last time out against Las Palmas. However, it wasn’t to be as Valencia were embarrassed 4-0 at home to Eibar. Valencia were forced to play with 10 men for the second half after emerging prospect Carlos Soler was sent off for the home side and ultimately paid the price as Sergi Enrich led Eibar to their first ever win at the Mestalla. Eliaquim Mangala had some harsh words about his teammates after the game and slammed them for their lack of fight and aggression in the match which resulted in Valencia’s 11th defeat of the season after 20 games.
“It was a fair defeat, we deserved to lose because we didn’t show anything. We didn’t fight, we didn’t play with aggression and without it you can’t win a game. It’s something we have to talk about in the dressing room.”
Meanwhile, luck was out for Samir Nasri at Sevilla. The French attacking playmaker’s missed penalty in the second half overshadowed what was a a wonderful performance in Sevilla’s 0-0 draw against Villarreal. Nasri’s tame effort was saved by Sergio Asenjo and proved costly as Sevilla lost ground in the title race. Despite the penalty miss, Nasri statistically was one of the best players on the pitch, he had the most shots of the game for Sevilla (3) and made the most passes in the game with a 91% pass accuracy. The goal would have marked a perfect afternoon for Nasri, however Sevilla are now left to play catch up with the title challengers. Marlos Moreno wasn’t in action this weekend as Deportivo’s match against Real Betis was postponed due to adverse weather leading to damage of the roof in the Riazor Stadium. In the Segunda, Angeliño featured in Real Mallorca’s 2-1 defeat away at Real Oviedo. The Spanish full-back made his debut appearance for the club as a substitute on the 75th minute with his side chasing the game. While his former compatriot Pablo Maffeo at affiliate side Girona was once again named on the bench as they continue to push for promotion to La Liga with a 2-1 win over Real Valladolid.
Back in England, Jason Denayer was once again in the Sunderland line-up as the Black Cats heaped misery on Crystal Palace in the weekend’s big relegation six pointer. Denayer retained his place as one of the three centre backs in David Moyes’ back five and proved to be a huge success as Sunderland ran riot as 4-0 winners at Selhurst Park. The Belgian centre half dealt with his national teammate Christian Benteke efficiently and was positive in his play. Denayer won the majority of his duels and was effective with an important clearance on the line from Jason Puncheon’s effort. Sunderland are looking to pull off another Great Escape and with Denayer now a regular in defence with Kone and O’Shea, he is providing much-needed stability at the back. Meanwhile, there are still doubts over Wilfried Bony’s future at Stoke, the Ivorian was named on the bench was again and hasn’t featured for more than 10 minutes since November 19th.
In the EFL Championship, there was a crunch game at the top of the table yesterday. Aaron Mooy was in action for Huddersfield in the West Yorkshire Derby as the Terriers edged out Leeds 2-1 with a dramatic late winner to ensure the home side leapfrogged their rivals. Mooy set up the winner as his deflected shot landed perfectly for cult hero Michael Hefele to tap in a late winner as Huddersfield recorded successive home victories against Brighton (2nd) and Leeds (now 5th) to prove their promotion credentials. The Aussie midfielder ran the show as he made 4 key passes and was once again praised on social media for his performance. While, in League One, David Faupala made his debut for Chesterfield playing up-front with former blue Ched Evans. However, the home side fell to a 1-0 defeat to Oldham.
— Elliott (@elliotthtafc) February 5, 2017
— Liam (@the_ron23) February 5, 2017
Over in Scotland, Patrick Roberts was celebrating on his birthday as Celtic came from 2-1 down to beat St Johnstone 5-2 at McDiarmid Park. Roberts was a threat all throughout the game forcing a couple of saves from keeper Zander Clark but also was vital in providing the assist for Celtic’s fourth of the game scored by former blue Scott Sinclair. The young winger has been vital in Celtic’s counter attacking play this season and helped them to their 19th successive league victory.
In Italy, Torino’s push for a place in the Europa League suffered another blow. Joe Hart was between the sticks again for the Granata but was left in a puddle after Arlind Ajeti’s backpass stopped short and allowed Manuel Pucciarelli to pounce for a late equaliser. There had been torrential rain in Tuscany and Hart was left hopeless as Empoli snatched a point. As with Manchester City, it has been a struggle for Hart to keep clean sheets at Torino, with the England number one only recording five for the season.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) February 5, 2017
Finally, it has been a challenging weekend for the City contingent in Holland. In the second tier, City affiliate side NAC Breda edged a 1-0 victory over FC Dordrecht on Monday evening. Manu Garcia’s first goal for the club was enough as they continue their push from promotion. James Horsfield was one of 5 Manchester City stars on the pitch (Smith-Brown, Agyepong and Barker) as the Welshman made his competitive debut for the side. Meanwhile, Ukrainian hot prospect Oleksandr Zinchenko was once again named on the bench for PSV who recorded a 4-2 victory away at AZ Alkmaar. An important win as they push for the title, however Feyenoord remain top after beating FC Twente 2-0 away from home. Enes Ünal was in action for the home side, while Yaw Yeboah was substituted on in the 73rd minute with the scores at 0-0. Bersant Celina watched from the sidelines as he was suspended following his sending off last week.