THOUGHT THE FIRST: Concern, then Joy
Before the match, I thought anything less than a 3-0 win would be a disappointment. After the first half, City had an incredible 80% possession but for want of Joe Hart's Incredible Save Du JourTM they would've been down a goal. City, frankly, didn't look all that fast in their play. David Silva, for the fourth straight game, didn't look all that good playing and by the start of half number two, I was having awful flashbacks to a match I'm still trying to erase from my memory.
Within five minutes, City scored twice and all worries ceased.
I've watched the match twice and near as I can tell, three things were different in the second half:
- City moved the ball much quicker; there was less time between passes, a lot less standing and looking for holes in the defense and a lot more attempts at creating those holes.
- Toure moved up even further than in the first half, allowing more direct link-up play with Silva. Perhaps most important of all...
- Sergio Aguero looked for all the world like the most dangerous player in the league.
It helped that after the second goal in minute 49, Aston Villa laid down and all but raised the white flag. Just a sad team to watch.
THOUGHT THE SECOND: Player Ratings
Here's my scale:
- 6 and below, the player did more harm than good.
- 7 means the player did his job.
- 8 means the player played an important role in the win.
- 9 and above is man of the match material.
Joe Hartâ: 7.5
I always have a hard time rating goaltenders after games like this. He wasn't given an awful lot to do but the save he made in the first half was a thing of beauty. If someone argued for a higher rating, I wouldn't argue back.
Gael Clichy: 8
What an effort and a what a week for this guy. The way he's playing, I suspect Aleksander Kolarov won't be starting again barring injury and/or fatigue. Clichy is fast becoming essential.
Vincent Kompany: 7.5
That's now eight shutouts in eleven Kompany starts. I'll write here what I wrote before the game: he plays as much as possible the rest of the season.
Nicolas Otamendi: 7
Gambles too much at times and certainly doesn't mind roaming away from his position but his mistakes are one's of aggression and I prefer those to the passive errors we saw today from Micah Richards (and that hurt to typeâMicah's a City favorite).
Bacary Sagna: 7
It's great to see him healthy and playing well. Remember, this guy came over on a free transfer. That's good business.
His job was to protect the front four and contribute to the attack when necessary; a solid if unspectacular effort.
Yaya Toure: 8
It's now been three straight matches where Yaya has played quite well.
David Silva: 7
A very poor first half offset but a very good second half. He'll have seven days to rest that ankle.
Jesus Navas: 8
City's third best player behind Aguero and Toure, Navas was a terror on the right side of the pitch. An enormously hard worker, he might be City's most underrated player.
Wilfried Bony: 6.5
City fans' least favorite player did not do as badly as many would believe. I actually liked the effort at linking up with other players (especially Aguero) and I thought his passing today reminded me of what he used to do at Swansea. I honestly didn't think it was a bad effort for a guy coming off an injury but after messing up a finish early in the first half, he was going to get stick from fans regardless. I'm not arguing that he played wellâyou've got to produceâbut I don't think he's nearly as bad as people make him out to be.
Sergio Aguero: 9
It is no longer a question of whether he's the best striker City has ever had. I just wonder when we'll start calling him the best player to ever don the shirt. The second goal was sublime.
Raheem Sterling: 7
Here's a question for our readers: who has been the best City signing? I think De Bruyne is the best player but I think Sterling has been the best and most productive signing. I hope that makes sense.
With Sterling, De Bruyne and this guy, I think City has a young nucleus that will be the envy of a lot of teams. An enormously polished player for his age.
Manu Garcia: NR
The youngster came on with 13 minutes left and the game well in hand.
THOUGHT THE THIRD: City's Best Goal Today
The U18's came back from two goals down for a 3-2 victory over the Chelsea's U18's. Brahim Diaz (let's remember that name, shall we?) did this.
THOUGHT THE FOURTH: Some Pep from Pep
Pep's way of dealing with young players can be described as intense, don't you think? Some writers were suggesting Pep was out of line if not outright crazy but what I was seeing was a passionate coach. I liked it.
THOUGHT THE FIFTH: Poll!
Last week, we had nearly 600 people respond and 61% thought City would finish fourth or worse. Same question this week. You know what to do.