IN YOUR FACE, LITTLE KID WEARING A UNITED TRAINING SHIRT THIS MORNING AT THE GYM! Okay, I got that off my chest. Now let’s discuss the beat down we put on United today. This was a great all-around team effort from start to finish. United never had a chance of sniffing the lead, once City put one goal on the score sheet. Sure, United may have been missing RVP, but let’s not forget that City was missing two key players in Silva and Clichy.
The beginning of the game saw some sloppy play from both sides, several of which nearly resulted in goals from misplaced passes. But, after that it was evident that City was going to be the first to score; it was just a matter of when that goal would be scored. City held most of the possession in the first half and capitalized, establishing a 2-0 lead heading into the half. Aguero got the first tally, finishing up a beautiful combination of passes that started when Nasri threaded a needle to a cutting Kolarov. Kolarov fed Aguero who didn’t fail, opening the scoring for the day. It is funny to look back at myself saying, “don’t give up a stupid late goal,” because United did that instead! Yaya’s goal on a deflected header from Negredo set the edge at the half. It gave my heart a nice break going into the half, because the more goals the better, right?
Coming into the second half, it would have been easy for City to come out relaxed and give up an easy goal. That worry was put to rest when Aguero put away his second goal on the afternoon to put City up 3-0. City was able to break out on the wings, taking advantage of United’s strategy of pushing their players in attack. If you give Navas space to operate, goals will happen. Predictably, there were times, especially around the 60-minute mark, when United put a lot of good play together. On the day, they just couldn’t capitalize (until the free kick, of course). Their attacks either ended in a goal saving tackle/interception, an offside, or a wayward shot.
Throughout the game, United gave City so much space to operate and create chances, that it was simply mind blowing. Sure, the second half space was because they had sent players up in attack, but in the first half and early on in the second Nasri, Navas, Yaya and Aguero were able to operate with ease. Together, Nasri and Kolarov abused the left side of the United defense, which surprised me because I had expected it’d be the other way around. Thankfully that was not the case.
In a game with so many positives, I have to poop on the party and say that at times our central midfield was too open, leaving Rooney with time and space to create. Full credit to Fernandinho and Yaya because they have been a great partnership, but when they both push a little far forward it leaves the midfield open. Teams will begin to take advantage of this in the future if the opportunities present themselves.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to say a word about the importance of Jesus Navas and Pellegrini. So far this season, Navas has been a menace to opponents. His presence in the lineup is critical to the success of our attack. For proof, just look at the one game he didn’t start. For that one, City looked to be missing that element of pace and width that Jesus provides us, and we struggled to a 0-0 draw with Stoke. Additionally, something should be said about Pellegrini’s player management. We can all attest that players like Nasri and Kolarov have struggled at times in the past two seasons. But under MP’s management, they have both excelled; obviously it’s early days but it’s possible this is due to the confidence he has shown for them publically.
Aguero (8) – Another great game from the little Argentinean engine that could! He put on a beautiful display of his skill during his first goal. There really isn’t much more to say than that he was just at home in his favorite position on the field (behind the striker), and it showed.
Negredo (7) – Unfortunate to not get a goal, but he did a great job setting up some goals today. His aerial strength was the key to the second goal scored by City in the first half. It probably wouldn’t have gone in if Yaya didn’t get his foot to it, but it was a solid header. He used his strength to bully the United back four, and when given space, he wasn’t shy about shooting. I like to see his aggressive play, because we need players to take some chances and let one fly every now and again.
Nasri (8) – He has stepped up, big-time over here in the opening weeks in the absence of David Silva and today was no different. He showed an aggressive nature, and with the space he was given, he made the best of it. The combination of him and Kolarov on the left gave Valencia and Smalling fits throughout the whole game.
Yaya (8 MotM) – He is my man of the match today, although there could have been several others deserving of the award. Again he was given the reins as attacking midfielder, and he used it to his full advantage. He was powerful on and off the ball, and he scored that important late first half goal to put City up 2-0 right before half time.
Fernandinho (6) – Another solid game as the holding midfielder. He won a lot of tackles, and helped slow the United attack down when they tried to break away in the first half. He committed a silly foul, given the area where it occurred, that lead to the Rooney goal from a free kick.
Navas (7) – He was a thorn in the side of United today. His pace on the wings opened up the play for City on the break. You can tell the difference he makes when he is in the lineup; City just look more positive when attacking.
Zabaleta (8) – When Pablo puts his whole body into a challenge, I can feel it from my couch. He had another strong game, making the necessary tackles, making booming runs down the right and being the Lion he is.
Kompany (8) – Kaptain Kompany does it again; what a game from him. Whenever United just needed one more pass to set up a goal scoring opportunity, he was there to block the pass. Vinnie did a great job to frustrate Rooney into a first half yellow card, and you could see the effect it had on him throughout the game.
Nastasic (7) – It was unfortunate for him to get an early yellow card on an aggressive play in the air, but he recovered to play a great all around game.
Kolarov (7) – Him and Nasri paired well together down the left, and he put a beautiful ball into the box that found the (lovely) left foot of Aguero for the first goal. I love to eat my words (when it comes to my teams), and Kolarov’s form as of now has done just that. He did a good job against a strong and fast Valencia, and getting into the attack is an added benefit to his skill set.
Hart (7) – He did everything asked of him today. He may have not had much to do at times, but during the late stages of the second half he made save, after save. Hart continued his confident form and came to get crosses and passes when they came in the box. Not much he could do about the Rooney free kick.
Javi Garcia (N/A)