That wasn’t the most convincing response to the loss last weekend to Cardiff. I expected the Blues to come out guns-a-blazing to get an early goal to settle the fans. But, it was Hull who was putting the pressure on City.
When I woke up to see Kolarov’s name in the starting lineup, I immediately hoped I was still dreaming. Sadly, I wasn’t dreaming, but Hull’s lack of a top-class attacking presence resulted in them being unable to exploit the weakness we had at left back.
There were many times in today’s game where our defense was burned by the Hull attacking players, especially on the Aluko missed opportunity. Hull’s attack was able to charge through the middle of the field and right at our back line, and that is a direct result of the width we have in our side. Our width leaves our CM’s alone to help in defense, since Silva and Navas are away from the middle. I’m not saying that our width is a problem that needs fixing; we need to adjust to how that effects our defense of counter attacks.
Nastasic’s first game back from injury went as expected. A lot of silly fouls because he was either out of position, or completely beat. I haven't been a fan of him and Lescott paired together. Nasty feeds off of strong leadership, and that isn't Lescott's strong suit.
Nasty and Fernandinho did a good job of covering for Kolarov when he decided he didn't need to get back. Lescott was on his weaker side, but having two left footed center backs can cause that. He always does a solid job of tackling the man on ball. Where he is weak is when he has to defend an attack with a full head of steam, since he is not fleet of foot. But, on a positive note (other than the score line) we did a much better job of man marking during corner kicks. There were times when a poorly placed corner was what helped, but the good corners were dealt with more convincingly than last week.
After a lackluster first half, the addition of Negredo at the start of the second half lit the proverbial fire under the Blues’ butts. In the second half we looked like the City from the Newcastle game, finally putting positive pieces of attack together resulting in goals. A beautiful pair of passes (one from Navas and the other from Aguero) found Pablo in one of his trademark runs down the wing. A great cross found Negredo, this was a great display of how effective Negredo will be in the box for us.
Pellegrini’s decision to bring on Negredo right at the start of the second half, instead of waiting, has been the best decision in his first three games as manager. Negredo has hit his stride and this means Dzekos’ consistent starting time is thinning. I'm not very good at predicting what a coach will do, but I suspect we'll see Negredo get his first start next weekend.
It was unfortunate for Hull that it couldn’t get a goal on the score sheet, because they really deserved one. We were lucky to get three points out of that game, but three points is three points. Those who had less than stellar games last Sunday improved their performances and a total team effort was needed to get the full points from the game. Obviously, the only ones who would find the game unnerving would be us, so good result for the boys. The deciding factor in this game was our overall class in the final third, compared to Hull’s. This is obvious, I know, but it may be the only reason why we got the three points. Next week will be a huge test as we head to the Britannia Stadium for a match against Stoke.
Aguero (7) – He is always so strong on the ball, and he put pressure on the Hull defense at times in the first half. No matter how frustrated he may be, he always finds a way to fight and claw his way towards goal. He needs to find a consistent goal scoring form, because he is our top goal scoring threat.
Dzeko (4) – Really wasn’t a factor in the first half, and didn’t put his mark on the game proceedings. Tracked back quite well, but that was really it.
Silva (6) – When he gets the ball in the middle and gets to create he is a totally different player than on the wing. In the second half he became the playmaker and he, and the team, thrived. He should have stayed on longer, but that is my opinion.
Navas (6) – After his great first game performance, his form could obviously dip and it has. He did start the move that lead to the Negredo goal, so it wasn’t a completely average performance by the Spaniard. He seems to be forcing the issue when attacking, but once he settles I can’t wait to see what he brings.
Yaya (6) - He and Fernandinho had similar games, but Yaya stayed of the book and made better tackles in the midfield. His free kick was almost the exactly the same as the one against Newcastle. So, he is extremely accurate and consistent!
Fernandinho (6) – His hustle, which usually helps him, got him in a bit of trouble today. He did provide some spark to the attack during the first half. Not his best performance today, he had several awkward and mistimed tackles, one leading to a yellow card.
Zabaleta (7) – That’s more like it from Pablo this week. He had numerous strong tackles on Hull players, which we are use to seeing from the Argentine. He also made great moves down the right to help Navas, and put a great ball towards Negredo for his second goal of the season.
Lescott (5) – Great header of the ball in set pieces, but under pressure he is a below average header. He doesn’t ooze confidence when he wins the ball back from an attacking player, so I always get nervous when he has the ball, especially on the right side. He was beat by the Hull attack a few times today.
Nastasic (5) – First game back from injury and he was shakey. There were times he looked like the player of last year, but then there were the times when the rust showed. He had to commit silly fouls to stop an attacker from getting by him.
Lolarov (5) – He is just very lazy when it comes to getting back to defend, leaving Nastasic and Fernandinho responsible to cover for him. He did have some timely tackles towards the end of the game in pressure situations, so “good try, good effort”. Of course he is filling in for the ground coverer Gael Clichy, and it’s hard to fill those boots. I am also hard on him, unapologetically so.
Hart (10 for the ball “skill” he showed) (6) – After a lot was said after our lost to Cardiff, Joe put on a much more inspiring performance. He showed more decisiveness in times it was required for him to be.
Negredo (7) (MotM) – Came in the second half like a man on a mission. He immediately had a great opportunity to score off a header but could direct it. He added a new dimension to City’s attack; one we didn’t have in the first half.
Nasri (N/A) – Thought he may be coming on for Navas, but it was Silva who made way for the Frenchmen. Not enough time to rate.
Milner (N/A) – Not enough time to rate.