The Carabao Cup holders got their defence off to a good start by dispatching Oxford United in the third round. Goals from Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden saw off the home side comfortably despite a slow start. Here’s how I rated the players on an unforgettable night in Oxford…
Aro Muric – 6
Apart from a dodgy claim from a long throw, Muric had about as much to do as Batman on Mother’s Day but his passing was respectable. There’s not much else to say at this stage of his short career but Aro did his chances of starting in the next round no real harm.
Danilo – 6
Danilo wasn’t very busy either, but he still found the time to blaze a few shots well wide. Defensively it was a decent performance and I’d say he was unlucky to be booked.
Vincent Kompany – 6
It’s hard to give Kompany any higher than an average rating because, again, he just wasn’t very busy. Nonetheless, the skipper dealt with everything he had to well.
Nicolas Otamendi – 6
The same goes for Otamendi, who had little real defending to do. His passing was impressive as ever and it can be hard at times to believe that this is the same man who struggled in Pellegrini’s last season.
Oleksandr Zinchenko – 7
The standout of the back five for me, Zinchenko was extremely tidy and played some incisive passes, including a gorgeous cross-field volleyed ball to Mahrez that De Bruyne himself might have struggled to pull off. I would not say no to seeing more Zinchenko in the next few weeks.
John Stones – 6
In an unfamiliar position, I have no complaints about Stones’ performance. It’s worth noting that the whole team was fairly disjointed for large parts of the night and without the magic of one teenage star we might not have scored at all, which puts what we saw from Stones into context. The potential is there for a permanent move into the DM position should circumstances call for it.
David Silva – 6
Just another day at the office for El Mago, who kept possession ticking over nicely as ever without managing any real standout moments. He would’ve scored had Díaz spotted the opportunity to square to him in the first half.
Phil Foden – 10 (Man of the Match)
He’s arrived. Foden was the single best player on the pitch tonight despite being younger than pretty much any of them. Phil was responsible for Jesus’ opener with a wonderful cross-field pass before assisting Mahrez in equally impressive fashion. However, the highlight of his showing was obviously a long-awaited first goal for the club he supports, as he finished off Sterling’s counter-attack with a lovely low drive. It’s clear to me that Phil is ready and I’d like to see him starting league games sooner rather than later.
Riyad Mahrez – 7
It’s absolutely brilliant to see Riyad Mahrez scoring goals again. After getting none in his first seven appearances for City, the Algerian now has three in his last two, and tonight he bagged an excellent one – with his right foot too! His rating takes a hit because of the sheer volume of shots from him that flew wide – he needs to cut that out soon.
Gabriel Jesus – 6.5
Jesus got his goal in the first half, and an easy one too, but his game still isn’t as good as it was when he first arrived. I’m noticing more and more regularly his tendency to get caught offside in totally unnecessary times and I sincerely hope the player who tore apart the likes of Spurs and West Ham will be back to his best soon. I have to give him credit for his pass to Foden before the second goal, though.
Brahim Díaz – 6
I find it difficult to criticise Brahim because of his age and inexperience but it’s becoming clear that work still needs to be done to polish this diamond. Like Jesus, he was found offside a few times and his passing – or lack of at times – wasn’t at the standard of Foden or Zinchenko. The flip side is the way that Brahim runs with the ball; he looks confident and has the dribbling ability to back it up. The trick now is finding the pass at the end of those runs to render them useful.
Raheem Sterling – 7
Sterling looked bright when he came on, creating a few chances and shooting on a couple of occasions. He created the most memorable moment of the game as it was his good pass that set up Foden for the third goal late on.
Ilkay Gundogan – 6
Settled in well. Not much else to say.
Adrian Bernabe – N/A
The 17-year-old became the second debutant of the night with a late appearance.