THOUGHT THE FIRST: Kevin De Bruyne and What Could’ve Been
Look, I don’t mean to be the guy who harps on the same point over and over and again but can we all just step back and imagine what this season would be like if we had an ordinary injury situation instead of the plague that has hit us from day 1? Assuming Sterling is out for the year, the following players have missed on average a third of the season: Aguero, Silva, Toure, Kompany, De Bruyne, Nasri, Delph, Zabaleta, Fernando, Mangala, Bony, Clichy, and now Sterling. Where would this team be if the average number of games missed got cut in half? Yes, with players like Aguero and Kompany injuries are a given but it’s far from a given that 13 key players on the roster miss double figure games and every outfield player gets hurt.
Which brings me to Kevin De Bruyne who had an awesome game against Bournemouth. If we have him in March, do we drop four of five? If he doesn’t get his first serious injury of his career, do we score just 13 goals in fourteen road games? Y’all know the answers to those questions. I’m still not sure we would’ve caught Leicester City—teams of destiny are awful hard to beat—but I’m damn sure we wouldn’t be sweating out a CL spot with just seven games to play.
THOUGHT THE SECOND: But seriously, how about Kevin De Bruyne (Player Ratings)
The ratings are as follows:
· 9 or above: Man of the Match (sometimes an 8.5 gets MOTM)
· 8 or above: A winning effort
· 7 or above: Did the job.
· 6 or above: Could've been better.
· 5 or below: Better off on the bench/Reason why we lost
GK—Willy Caballero (7.5): I think he’s the best backup in the league right now.
LB—Gael Clichy (7.5): And he might be the best LB in the league.
CB—Nicolas Otamendi (8): I wasn’t all that impressed on first viewing but after the second viewing of the match, was tipping my cap to this man. Otamendi gets stick for reckless wanderings but when he’s on, attackers have no idea where he’s coming from. More than one Cherry on the receiving end of a pass was set upon immediately by Otamendi. It was honestly one of the best performances by a City defender this season.
CB—Eliaquim Mangala (7.5): It appears that Mangala is going to try to impress upon the City brass that he’s deserving another year by doing two things: playing steady and keeping mistakes to a minimum. It wasn’t his style at Porto and, to a fault, was not his style in earlier games with City but it’s his style now and it suits him. I’ll be very, very interested to see how he does Wednesday in Paris.
RB—Pablo Zabaleta (7.5): Steady as she goes, Pablo. Steady as she goes.
CM—Fernando (7.5): At what point can we say his signing was a success? I think the jury is still out but he’s playing some damn good football this season, including that opening goal. His City career appears to be paralleling that of Javi Garcia who was booed and dismissed outright before playing well and then moving on. As opposed to Garcia, I wouldn’t mind at all if Fernando stuck around for a while longer.
CM—Fernandinho (8): I can’t prove this to be true but I think Fernandinho runs ultra-marathons as a hobby. He’s played 95% of his available minutes. The guy just doesn’t rest. He was terrific against Bournemouth.
LM—Kevin De Bruyne (9): Man of the Match for me. He was on the business end of City’s best goal of the season (the game’s second) and surrounded that with the kind of play that made him de facto player of the year in the Bundesliga last season. He’s the best City signing since Aguero.
CAM—David Silva (8): The most underrated part of his game is how he can pressure the ball, as he did leading to City’s wonderful second goal. The most irritating part of his game is how often he gets hacked by defenders and how refs look the other way. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that grates me more than knowing Silva is going to get chopped at least three times a match.
RM—Jesus Navas (8): Speaking of underrated, can I pass along a message to all broadcasters of City matches? The most annoying thing you all do is talk about the "millions" the players cost. I get it, it’s a narrative that’s not going away but it’s annoying. The second most annoying thing you do is trash Navas like he was some slug barely deserving of the shirt. He doesn’t score and he’s not the best crosser in the world but anyone with eyes could see his quality against Bournemouth: endless hustle, tracking back, harassing the opposition, sprinting downfield and dribbling effectively… he can play for my team.
ST—Sergio Aguero (8): I’m going to answer a question I asked in my predicted lineup: who’s better between Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Jamie Vardy and Sergio Aguero? That’s four great strikers having four terrific seasons but of the four, I’m still taking the Argentine.
THOUGHT THE THIRD: Demichelis Update
Pellegrini spoke with the City defender who was, apparently, honest about what led to his being charged by the FA for betting. Reportedly, Demichelis placed wagers on overseas games (presumably games in Argentina). The linked article states that the games are ones Demichelis ‘could not have affected’ but that’s not the point. The purpose of the rule, made very public two seasons back, was that any player or staff member of a team could get inside information about a game which is why betting on any game is prohibited. It’s at least a careless mistake by a man who should’ve known better. As of now, he’s still on the active roster.
THOUGHT THE FOURTH: An Amazing Sentence
Leicester City has a seven-point lead with six games to play as opposed to last season when they were seven points under the relegation zone with six games to play.
THOUGHT THE FIFTH: Poll!
You know what to do.