Manchester City haven't won in six straight games, but are still top of the Premier League on goal difference. City haven't held a lead in nearly a month, but are still in control of their own destiny in the Champions League. City are out of the EFL Cup, but they fielded a very weak side against a strong Manchester United team. Throughout this run of poor form, City supporters have been quick to rush to these and other excuses when referencing the teams lack of victories.
In truth, City have to be better than what they’ve showed in recent games. Even though last night's loss came with a weakened side, the team played well enough in most parts of the pitch to win. The defense played well, and so did Aleix García in the midfield. The problem last night was Man City never looked like they were going to score. Not even when Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling were brought in did it look like City could get a goal.
During this run of poor form City have played well, but there always seems to be something missing. An edge in midfield, a timely strike, or a big tackle, but City are starting to find ways to drop points instead of gaining them as they were doing at the beginning of the season. Some players impressed with an opportunity and others perhaps didn’t show enough. In the end I’m sure Guardiola has a lot to ponder going into the weekend, including how to get City back on track!
Below are our player ratings for each of the 14 players who played last night for Manchester City. Comment below with your City man of the match!
Willy Caballero: 7.0
What a save Willy made on a Paul Pogba shot early in the second half. There wasn't much the Argentine could do on the goal and he was basically hung out to dry by his defense, but besides that Caballero came up with some good saves and handled the ball well at his feet. Next week he may have a tougher time though.
Pablo Maffeo: 7.5 (City Man of the Match)
A very solid all around game from the Spanish youngster earned him my City Man of the Match honors. Consistently Maffeo was able to stay with and tackle the likes of Pogba, Ibrahimovic, and the great Marcus Rashford. Despite his diminutive frame, the Spaniard played very well against a tough United side and perhaps earned more playing time outside of domestic Cup competitions.
Vincent Kompany: 6.5
Kompany was very very good in this game, for about 45 minutes. There still isn't too much out yet as to why the skipper was subbed at half time other than telling Pep he couldn't continue. That doesnt sound great, but perhaps the Belgian is still getting fit and after playing Sunday, going for more than a half tired him out too much.
Nicolas Otamendi: 7.0
Another Argentine who played particular well was Nicolas Otamendi. He rarely put a foot wrong in this one, which in the past is something that has plagued the City center-back. At times pushing the play all the way into United’s defensive third, Nico was often leading the charge on defense and offense.
Gaël Clichy: 6.5
Nothing too troubling came Clichy’s way. It seemed Mourinho wanted his players to attack down City’s right and target the youngster over there. When his pace was needed Clichy provided it and was solid all night in keeping track of Valencia.
A couple of lazy fouls take away from an otherwise very good Fernando performance. Having another deep lying midfielder to work with is best case for the Brazilian and with Aleix García in the side the two worked well together.
Aleix Garcia: 7.0
Another good performance from a Spanish youngster was the play of Aleix García. The midfielder was excellent in possession and his passing was good enough to start the attack, the issues came in the final third where City were often too blunt. Defensively García still has holes in his game, but his passing might be one of the best on the team before long.
Leroy Sané: 5.5
A young player who did not have a good game was the German Leroy Sané. Despite playing very well the last two weekends, Sané was played more through the middle in this one perhaps throwing off his natural instincts. That doesn't necessarily excuse all of the turnovers made by the German winger, however.
Jesus Navas: 6.5
The first half was quite good from Jesus Navas, who consistently beat Luke Shaw to the line and whipped in a couple of nice crosses. However, once United added cover in the second half, Navas completely disappeared. At some point he appeared on the left and never looked to cross in with his weak foot.
A solid performance from City’s other Spanish winger as Nolito was alright, but nothing special on this night. He too was moved around quite a bit, sometimes on the left, sometimes as a striker, Nolito played where he had to but didn’t seem to get into the flow of the game despite playing most of it.
Kelechi Iheanacho: 6.0
Back-to-back poor starts from the young Nigerian are concerning. He seems to do his best work off the bench and that’s not a reputation you want to give life too, especially as Gabriel Jesus is joining the squad in mere weeks.
Aleksander Kolarov: 6.5
The Serbian defender might take some blame for United’s goal simply because Kompany wasn't there and he was, but truthfully Kolarov played fine in defense, now his passing and shooting are another story.
Raheem Sterling: 5.5
Something is clear to me at this point, Sterling is a player who can play great with greatness around him. Ask Sterling to do the work and right now he struggles. The first attacking move by Pep was to bring on Sterling to spark the City attack and he tried, but couldn't create on his own woefully giving the ball away numerous times.
Sergio Agüero: 6.0
Coming on late a couple of minutes went by before the Agentine got his first touch of the ball. On a night City never looked like scoring, not even Sergio Agüero could change that.
So that’s our ratings! Some good, some poor, but in the end it's a poor result from a team that is perhaps questioning itself. Winning this weekend could change the direction of City’s ship, but only a strong performance will net them the three points at the Hawthorns.