*Huge sigh of relief*
After 120 plus minutes failed to separate the Premier League leaders and the Championship pace-setters, Manchester City came out on top due to Claudio Bravo’s heroics in a 4-1 penalty shoot-out victory.
It was a frustrating evening for the Blues, with the away side definitely having the better of the chances, but a win is a win and City are into the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup.
Here’s what I learned from City vs Wolves.
‘It really is Claudio Bravo FC’
If I stood on the turnstiles at the Etihad tonight and asked every single person for their man of the match prediction, pre-match, I would be able to count on one hand the amount of votes for Bravo.
Yet, the Chilean was the best player on the pitch tonight. Wolves found themselves in on goal at least three times and Bravo came to the rescue, timing his dart at the attackers to perfection every time.
Claudio won us the penalty shoot-out with two smart saves – moments that can only be compared to the tale of Willy Caballero, who was by no means a fan favourite, but his penalty heroics earned him a place in all our hearts as a cult hero.
Hopefully this is the turning point for Claudio, who had an awful first season at the Etihad.
Still not 100% convinced on our squad depth
It’s been a grueling schedule for Pep’s men, and the likes of Otamendi, Fernandinho, David Silva and others have barely missed a minute. Thus, it was essential Pep rung the changes tonight.
Bernardo, Gundogan and Danilo got well earned starts, whilst Adarabioyo and Zinchenko were given valuable first team minutes.
Going forward we looked good at times, with Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva pulling the strings. In a way I feel sorry for the two mentioned as they are definitely at the quality of a first-teamer, but City are in such fine form it is hard for them to find a route to the team sheet.
The problems lie at the back. Stones and Otamendi have paired up together for nearly every minute since the Kompany injury and abandonment of the back three formation – they needed a rest.
Tosin Adarabioyo put in a solid shift, as did Zinchenko at left back, but Eliaquim Mangala was not up to the task. To add to losing the ball cheaply a couple of times, the Frenchman was caught out of position on a number of occasions.
Mangala’s performance tonight has confirmed to me that defensive reinforcements are a priority in January – if Stones or Otamendi got an injury, we would be in a worrying position.
City can compete on four fronts
Ok, I’m by no means saying we can win four trophies, but we can give it a better go than last season.
In the Champions League defeat in Monaco last season, City’s bench read: Bravo, Zabaleta, Navas, Delph, Otamendi, Touré, Iheanacho. From the seven, I can’t see one player that is a game changer from the bench.
Now, if the game isn’t going to plan, we have the likes of Gundogan, Bernardo, one of Jesus or Aguero, or maybe a Sterling or Sané. This is a huge difference in just six months, and it will definitely be a factor in City’s success this season should we go on to win things.