Part the First: Quatro Sergio
Manchester City's all-time leading scorer in Premier League play had a pretty damn good match against Tottenham. One missed PK was the only flaw in an otherwise flawless performance. I'm having a helluva time coming up with my favorite Aguero play from yesterday. The first goal, created from nothing rocketed through three defenders in the far corner? Put that one on a stamp but keep in mind he does so much more than score--I've been writing all year that Aguero is underrated defensively and yesterday, he showed it, muscling Spurs off the ball, providing upfield pressure... he's a great passer, too. There is literally nothing on the football pitch Sergio Aguero can't do and there isn't a striker in the world I'd rather have on my side. Provided he stays healthy, Sergio Aguero is the most valuable player in England. Long may it be so.
Part the Second: You Gotta Have Hart
I've also been writing all year that Joe Hart is one mistake away from being second string for a lot longer than he was last season. My point wasn't to denigrate one of my favorites so much as to call attention to Pellegrini sending a message to his number one--no more mistakes like last season because someone significantly better than Pantillimon is behind you. Watching the match replay, it's frankly stunning how well Hart played; on any other day, he's the no-questions-asked MOTM. We all knew about his athleticism but make a point to notice his solid positional play--even on Tottenham's loan goal, Hart got a good piece of it before it went by. An average goaltender lets in at least two and probably more but Hart was only beaten once. Not only do we have the best striker in England but we also probably have the league's best man in the nets.
Part the Third: Pellegrini's Lineup
An extremely intriguing card even if it did make me look a little foolish. To wit:
- It got Milner and Navas on the pitch at the same time, both of whom have played particularly well this season (especially Milner). City's attack from the wings hurt Tottenham all afternoon.
- It got Sagna on the pitch who, like Navas, deserved more playing time based on past performance but who, like Navas, had a roadblock of a great player ahead of him (Zabaleta). It is impossible to imagine Roberto Mancini, currently making the rounds claiming "dammit, this is my team!" putting Zabaleta on the bench in such a huge match but unlike his predecessor, Pellegrini uses the whole lineup. When players know they'll play in important matches--and let's face it, that was never true under Mancini--said players will play well. Pellegrini showed enormous faith in Navas and Sagna and he was repaid in full with fine performances from both.
- It sent a message to Yaya Toure that even though last season's player-of-the-year made himself available thanks to an express flight, that doesn't mean last season's player-of-the-year plays. There was nary a complaint from Yaya because, I think, he knows the manager who supported him so profusely after the Bayern debacle is the same man making the call that our best chance to win rested with Frank Lampard and Fernando in the center of the pitch. As it happened, Lampard got hurt, Fernando did not play well and City still won by three goals. We didn't need Yaya Toure to beat Tottenham yesterday but we'll need him at his best if we win any trophies at all this season. Pellegrini's message to Toure, one readily accepted by the Ivorian, is we don't need #42 to do as much as he did in years past and the team is the better for it.
- David Silva needs to shoot more.
- Fernando's worst match of the season is hopefully out of his system
- Demichelis is a helluva guy and a hard worker but that was not one of his better efforts. EDIT: The Wise Guy points out--correctly--that Demichelis had (ahem) 'Kompany' in the less-than-stellar effort department.