It’s been a couple of weeks since we did a review, and quite a lot has happened during that time, so let’s take a look back and see what’s been going on.
We start our review over in the Ukraine and City’s Champion’s League match at Shakhtar. These two teams met last season, when the home side became the first team to beat City last season, but the blues made sure there would be no repeat this time around, with a comprehensive 3-0 victory to take them top of their Champions League group.
Not only that, but they became the first English team to win at Shakhtar as goals from David Silva and Aymeric Laporte gave the blues a 2-0 half time lead. Bernardo Silva made the game safe with 20 minutes to go, with a brilliant third. Together with Hoffenheim holding Lyon to a 2-2 draw, City leapfrogged (no pun intended) their French opponents into top spot. But it was the manner in which City won that was most pleasing. After losing to Lyon and scraping past Hoffenheim, the blues simply had to win to keep their dream of lifting the trophy alive. And by limiting the home side to just two shots on target, the blues showed more than a hint of class as they took their opponents apart.
The two teams meet again on Wednesday, and after City ripped Southampton apart at the weekend, they may just be in the mood to add to their goals tally.
Much had been made of this fixture beforehand, and there were some question marks as to whether it would go ahead. Spurs had hosted an NFL game the day before and to say the pitch looked a little threadbare would be an understatement. In fact, for a Premier League game, it was nothing short of an embarrassment.
But the blues got to work and very quickly got themselves ahead through Riyad Mahrez, who is really beginning to look every bit the player Pep wanted when he signed him from Leicester. It has taken the Algerian some time to settle, but now he has, there seems to be no stopping him…apart from not playing him!
Now, Pep’s team have been criticised in the past for being unable to defend. Working on the philosophy of “you score one goal, we’ll score two” doesn’t really mean that you intend to defend much, so it was something of a surprise to the neutral to see such resolute defending from the blues. See? Pep’s team can defend!
Blues fans would like nothing more than another trip to Wembley (providing the pitch has been sorted), and on Thursday evening, City took another step towards returning to the famous stadium with an easy 2-0 win over Fulham. That set up a quarter final tie with Leicester or Southampton, whose match had been postponed after the terrible helicopter crash that sadly killed the owner of the Foxes.
Last time out, Phil Foden was the star of the show, but this time, that honour fell to Brahim Diaz. His double strike put the blues to within three matches of a Wembley return and prompted the youngster to take to Twitter after the match, stating he always wondered what it would be like to hear the fans chant his name after scoring, and now he knows how that feels. This in turn prompted a barrage of tweets from the fans, begging Diaz to sign a new contract and commit to the club.
The youngster is still to agree to a new deal, and may leave in the hope of securing first team football. He may well be encouraged by the success of Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund. It has been rumoured that Real Madrid may be interested in taking him back to Spain, but it is likely Diaz will just end up in their youth team until he is ready. Quite how that would be different to his situation at City is unclear, but if he needs anything, Diaz needs to be patient.
Many footballers have been thrust into first team action, and for some time, those players have excelled. That is until they pick up an injury, which recurs over the course of a couple of seasons. Before long it’s another injury, then another until they are spending more time in the treatment room than on the pitch. The best thing that can happen is that he is introduced to the first team gradually, then command a regular first team place in the next few years. Of course it’s up to him and if he chooses to jump ship, then that’s his choice. I just hope the bleus can persuade him to stay.
The only blight about Thursday’s match was another injury to Kevin de Bruyne, which may keep him out for around six weeks. If I were Pep, I’d keep him out until after Christmas and give him plenty of time to recover. We’ve done fine without him, we can continue to do so.
Last time de Bruyne was injured, the blues won their next match 6-1, so it seems coincidental that the same thing happened again on Sunday, just a pity it wasn’t United, we all know how they love being on the receiving end of a 6-1 thrashing by City.
The blues got off to a great start, scoring on 6, 12 and 18 minutes and if they’d kept up with a goal every six minutes, the blues would have won 15-0! But it was just the six this time to make Mark Hughes’ return to the Etihad another miserable one. Last season, Hughes brought his Stoke City side to Manchester and lost 7-2, so he will have been pleased to keep the score down.
It was a result that sent the blues two points clear at the top of the Premier League after Liverpool were held at Arsenal and Chelsea beat Crystal Palace, and was the perfect preparation to their Champions League match against Shakhtar on Wednesday and the derby next Sunday. Sergio Aguero scored his 150th Premier League goal and Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane ran the show. But for some reason, City just cannot keep a clean sheet against the Saints. At 3-0, they should not have allowed Southampton to pull a goal back, but I’m just putting it down to Ederson being so bored, that he really just wanted something to do. It mattered not as the blues went on to score another three goals, but it is so frustrating to concede such a cheap goal. Never mind, onwards and upwards.
The blues will be hoping to take another step towards qualifying from the stage as they take on Shakhtar on Wednesday, followed by the Manchester Derby on Sunday. Join us then for both of those games.