Manchester City were given a sturdy test of their mettle Monday afternoon against Burnley at the Etihad. After being reduced to ten men with over an hour left to play, City were still even with Burnley at halftime. The first half was highlighted by a few missed chances by City and after Fernandinho’s straight red card, the second half was a completely different game.
Pep Guardiola must have dug into his team at halftime because the City side that came out in the second half played with fire and guile rarely seen the last few matches. After City’s come-from-behind victory against Arsenal last month, many thought that would be City’s impetus to kick on and really challenge Chelsea. I’d argue this game could be where City really band together and march forward.
When the game was at 0-0 it took a bit of luck from a Gaël Clichy strike to break the deadlock. After that things really got into gear as City scored on a counter which was met quickly with a Burnley goal, after shenanigans in Claudio Bravo’s six-yard box again. City can take away a great deal from this victory and hopefully kick on towards a true title challenge.
Below are the ratings for each City player who saw the field against Burnley, as well as the City player of the match.
Claudio Bravo: 5.0
Bravo is the least convincing goalkeeper in the air I’ve ever seen. This has to be a concern because other teams are probably going to attempt to exploit this more in the near future.
Bacary Sagna: 6.5
The Frenchman may be pushing on in age but he can still do a solid defensive job. Sagna was livid at the official (who had a bit of a shocker) after Burnley’s goal and probably rightfully so.
Nicolas Otamendi: 6.5
The Argentine was given the captain's armband after Fernandinho was given his marching orders and while many City supporters have their issues with Otamendi, he’s been City’s most consistent defender for two years now.
Aleksandar Kolarov: 6.0
The Serbian was better than he was against Liverpool, but there’s still a bit to be desired in his defensive footwork and his positioning.
Gaël Clichy: 7.5
Thank you Gaël Clichy! A fantastic strike by the Frenchman really gave City the pick up they needed desperately. He still lacks a bit on the defensive end but the goal more than makes up for it.
Yaya Touré: 7.0
The Ivorian had a lot more room to maneuver than he did against Liverpool where he looked short on pace. When Fernandinho was sent off Touré was very good covering the back four and trying to spring the attack.
Fernandinho may be a key City player but he did nothing but hurt the squad in this game. A needless sending off in a game City should have won easily made the task extremely difficult. See you in four games Dinho.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7.0
The entire 90 minutes De Bruyne worked his tail off to try and create from many different parts of the field. He certainly found more success once Navas was removed and Silva was brought on.
Jesus Navas: 5.5
The Spanish winger can be commended for his dribbling and tenacity on defense, but he cannot produce offensively to save his life.
Raheem Sterling: 6.5
The Englishman did his best but looked constantly like it wasn't in his locker today. Whether it was tripping over the ball or his own feet, Sterling struggled but did his best and worked hard all game.
Kelechi Iheanacho: 6.0
The young Nigerian wasn't poor but also didn’t really take advantage of getting the start in this game. He had two chances or so before being subbed off at halftime.
Sergio Agüero: 8.0 (Man of the Match)
Agüero’s goal was absolutely wonderful. Such a tight angle and with two defenders on the line he came good and provided the game-winning goal.
David Silva: 7.5
Silva was fantastic in the 45 minutes he got. Pep most likely wanted Silva to rest as he is quite important to the squad but City really needed his passing and creativity in the second half.
John Stones: 6.0
The Englishman came on very late with too little time to mark.