After a shocking Champion League defeat that left fans wondering about the team’s condition, City remind us that they are still the free-flowing side that we know and love. As the Blues add another three points in Wales, they also provide some cushioning for the goal difference in a commanding 5-0 thrashing at the Cardiff City Stadium. A fantastic outing in the league was watched by City Watch’s Jonty Fletcher as he rated this afternoon’s performances:
Ederson – 7
While keeping another clean sheet today, City’s ‘keeper had a rather quiet afternoon between the sticks. Ederson was rarely called to save a shot this afternoon, with Cardiff in fact only registering three shots, and two on target. When called upon, the Brazilian collected the ball commandingly among a flurry of physical players and distributed the ball in his usual style of play. While he had little to do, he also made sure he was alert for when he was called to action.
Kyle Walker – 6
Walker had a very interesting game today, when you look closely. He was asked to move from right-back to centre-back for periods in the game, something that he has voiced his discontent about when playing for England, but he showed that he was capable in both positions. The reasoning for his rating here is that, while Walker regularly shows what he can do, he also often shows flashes of his lack of awareness in games. This is sometimes being caught out of position and using his raw pace to make up for it, or simply not reading a run and passing the ball to the opposition or out of play. While this did not cost us at all today and was no real problem, it is something that could hinder our performance against greater opposition.
Aymeric Laporte – 7.5
The Frenchman has been a staple of solidity at the back for City so far this year, showing his first real impression of what he can do for the team. Another clean sheet in the bag for him, Laporte also showed us how he can spray the ball across the field and add another dimension to the team. There was one moment of doubt as Laporte was caught out of position and let Reid get in behind him, leaving us vulnerable at the back. This has happened only once or twice before in games, so not a huge problem, but something to be worked on. Laporte also showed his capability on the left for a spell in the game, which adds to the versatility of our defence.
Nicolas Otamendi – 7
The Argentine returned to the lineup and showed us why he should always be considered for the starting XI. The General was commanding in the air in what was clearly a physical matchup and, for the most part, cruised through a game where he had very little to deal with.
Fabian Delph – 7
After a shaky start to the game where he made a few errant passes, Delph settled in and showed his knowledge of the game by switching from left-back to right-back for a period of the game. This is something that impressed me in his performance because he adds so much versatility for someone who is naturally a midfielder. Delph rectified his sloppiness from the first twenty minutes to settle into what was a commanding victory.
Ilkay Gundogan – 8.5 (Man of the Match)
Well, after a week or so of many fans calling for Gundogan’s head, he brings out a special performance to show us exactly what he is capable of. The man that is often used as the team’s scapegoat on social media put in a commanding performance with a fantastic goal and an assist in the win. Aside from the glaring miss early on in the game, the German rarely put a foot wrong today. Not only did he claim an unbelievable goal for his own, but he assisted while often providing the pass before the assist for other players, showing his significance in the build up of the play. Without Gundogan’s performance today it could have been a different result, and his effort deserves praise.
Fernandinho – 6.5
Fernandinho looked closer to himself today. The 33-year-old could have shown fatigue due to playing so many minutes early in the season, but he bounced back from an underwhelming performance in the Champions League. When the Brazilian is in form, the midfield of the team is like a rock, meaning that the attack can truly flourish. We just need to hope that he does not get burned out from fatigue this season if we are to succeed.
Bernardo Silva – 8
We need to see more of Bernardo in the middle! When he plays in his natural position, he is fantastic. The close control, the link up play, the understanding of the game. He often portrays a very similar style to his namesake, David. At such a young age, he will be developing into a key player for City for years to come. He even got himself a remarkably unusual goal today through a looping header that was almost certainly intended to nod on to the back post. However, he showed a fantastic role in creating chances for the team.
Leroy Sané – 7
Pace, dribbling, overlapping, Sané showed it all off today. After a frustrating corner routine, he crossed in a fantastic ball to find Bernardo for his headed goal. After a slow start to the season, Sané is now showing his true quality and why he is again starting games.
Raheem Sterling – 8
Sterling delivered a perfectly weighted lay-off for Gundogan’s great goal today, and that is exactly what he deserved. Sterling’s interplay is fantastic, he has great pace and can show how he can get behind and create dangerous chances, but his rating today primarily comes from what he does off the ball. People say a lot about Raheem, but nobody can ever take away from his work rate. He was tirelessly battling for every ball today, winning possession off the Cardiff players and battling for every loose ball that came his way. This kind of energy not only shows the fantastic character of this young man, but rubs off on the teammates around him who look to share his intensity.
Sergio Aguero – 7.5
New contract signed, three-hundredth appearance for the club, and on the scoresheet once again. We often run out of superlatives for Aguero. He broke the deadlock with an all important goal that changed the tie in City’s favour, leading to a commanding victory in which Cardiff became demoralised. If Aguero had not been subbed off early into the second half, he surely would have scored even more goals as City became even more rampant late on.
Riyad Mahrez – 8
Riyad Mahrez showed signs of the Leicester player that we signed today. An easy tap-in from great positional awareness got Mahrez’s maiden campaign for City off the mark, and he didn’t stop there. A second goal for City with a blistering shot as he latched onto a loose ball in the box showed we have acquired yet another way of scoring, leaving opposition with so much guess work of where the greatest threat lies.
Phil Foden – 6
It was great to see the young Englishman get minutes today, and we’ve been waiting for this. After getting a comfortable twenty minutes under his belt, Foden will surely be looking to consolidate his efforts to gain more time on the field for the Blues. While not adding too much creatively, shy of a brilliant touch before a tame shot on goal, Foden showed why we love him. A young player coming on in a game and looking at home among a team of stars.
John Stones – 6
So now we’ve seen Stones playing as a central midfielder. He comfortably played the role after replacing Fernandinho, showing how he can help with the team’s stability, should he be called upon to play in midfield again. While not having too much time in the game, this is a glimpse of perhaps how we can take the weight of being the team’s anchor off Fernandinho’s shoulders – only in the lesser games, perhaps. This is an experiment that I would like to see more of in the future, but only in games where we have a clear advantage in.