That wasn't the performance I was expecting from our boys today. Lots of patience but sometimes patience isn't a virtue!
The first half was a bit of a chess match with both teams getting opportunities at scoring on the other. City started the first half displaying a lot of patience, passing the ball around and looking for the right opening to attack Stoke. One of City’s best chances had came from a cross into the box from Sagna that fell to the feet of Nasri, but his first time shot was saved comfortably by Begovic. Stoke seemed to grow in confidence as the first half went on and should have been awarded a penalty kick when it appeared that Kolarov had fouled Diouf in the box. Nothing was called and I am certainly not one to argue ;). As we often do, City made a late charge to grab a goal heading into the locker room but was unable to get one. A lovely little play from Aguero that ended in a ball clipping the post by Yaya.
The second half was a bit more stretch as both teams looked to be the first on the score sheet. Stoke got what they had deserved with a goal come from a quick counter attack that left Hart looking silly as he was nutmegged by Diouf. It wasn't until that goal from Stoke that City pushed the tempo more, and for good reason, but we need that sense of urgency for a full 90 not just once we concede. This will be a wake up call for the boys and I would anticipate a solid response on the road against Arsenal in two weekends time.
We are going to see this type of defensive effort from lower tier teams and, more importantly, when teams take a lead against us. Stoke did a good job of stacking the box, even without the lead, and keeping our better attacks at bay. The likes of Sila, Aguero and Jovetic were frustrated trying to find a space to open up. It's our first test of a successful box stacking and I am certain the Pellegrini will have the boys much more prepared for the next time we face a similar defense.
Aguero (5) - Had his moments today but was pretty much a non factor for much of the match. It's early days, but after his solid substitute appearances you'd hope he would have made a bigger difference today.
Jovetic (5) – His shifty movements with the ball give defenders fits and cause free kicks in dangerous areas for City. COuldn’t find an opening today and the compact defensive effort from Stoke left him unable to make his mark on the game.
Silva (5) - A little inaccurate with his passes today, but given his usual form he has high expectations to live up to.
Nasri (5) - Found his way into spaces but was unable to have an impact in attack. Another less than stellar performance but there is no reason to go “end of the world” on him because of what we know he can bring.
Yaya (5) - Much better from him today. Seemed to be much more interested in proceedings, but that’s only off the first few performances from him this season.
Fernando (5) – Unfortunate way to end a day, coming off in the first half with an injury. My guess in a groin injury, let’s hope it isn’t too serious.
Sagna (6) - Strong and solid defensive effort from him in his first game in a City shirt. He provides similar support down the right side of the pitch like Zabaleta, so we don’t lose much when one plays and other doesn’t.
Kompany (6) - Mark Hughes tooted his own horn leading up to this match saying Vinny was his best transfer, but it’s hard to argue with him. Today, he was in the right place at the right time and making the necessary tackles to relieve pressure in City’s defensive third.
Demichelis (5) - After his injury, the defense looked a little more nervy as having one defender unable to perform makes defending that much more difficult. Pior to picking up his knock he was doing well in defense, minus getting overpowered by Crouch at one point. I still miss his hair :(.
Kolarov (4) - Wasn’t at his best today, getting beat on several occasions by Diouf down the left side. He wasn’t able to get into the attack and his impact on the game was minimal because of it.
Hart (4) - Looked very silly on the goal, getting nutmegged by a shot that, 9-out-of-ten, he makes the save but this was that one time.
Fernandinho (5) - He played pretty well, but the counter that led to the goal could have been halted if he wasn’t nutmegged very similarly to Hart. Just an unfortunate event for some one who works so hard.
Navas (5) - His entrance into the game brought the added element of pace to City’s attack and it was much needed for City to get a goal back. Sometimes his decision making around the box leaves a lot to be desired, but once he gets that one cross in