It’s been a tough sequence of matches for both our boys and girls teams this past week. While the men faced Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool, all away from home, our girls faced Arsenal, Leicester and West Ham, with two of those at home.
While it was exhilarating to see the men win at Chelsea and draw at Liverpool, the women sadly failed to live up to the standard they have previously set themselves as they fell to two successive WSL defeats.
We’ll start with the boys and their eight days of hell, which, on the face if it, wasn’t that hell at all.
Chelsea away was a huge test of City’s mettle. This is the team that had beaten City three times last season, not that it was mentioned anywhere in the media! It was billed as another battle between Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel, and this time, the City manager got everything spot on.
From the first whistle, City dominated the match, putting pressure on the Chelsea defence and spending much of the first 45 inside the Chelsea half. It was clear that City needed a striker, but it was the defence that held firm.
Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte marshalled the backline to the point where Romelu Lukaku just didn’t get a sniff. And when he did, the Belgian striker was already a mile offside. Gabriel Jesus’ second half goal was enough for the blues to take home the three points, but it was a masterclass from City, who effectively went to Stamford Bridge and bullied the team who had bullied them for years.
PSG were a different kettle of fish on Tuesday, and, as previously mentioned, if City were to lose any game from the three nightmare fixtures, this would be it. But it wasn’t for the want of trying, as once again, the blues dominated the home side, but the faithful would again bemoan the lack of striker.
City had enough possession and chances to inflict another defeat of the French side, in particular Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva both hitting the bar within seconds of each other, the latter missing when it was easier to score.
Lionel Messi was then subject of BBC glorification, so much to the point that you’d have thought he’d scored for City. The Argentine scored a brilliant second goal to condemn City to defeat, but with four games left in the group stage, there’s no panic from the City camp.
Which leaves Liverpool. At Anfield. A ground where the blues are usually bullied into submission. And the home side tried it again on the blues on Sunday, but were met with a team that is showing more resilience than ever.
City weathered the storm of the first ten minutes, before taking control of the game. Phil Foden had a couple of chances, Bernardo Silva was his usual, excellent self and City scored two comeback goals to peg the home side back, after Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah had twice given Liverpool the lead.
But the talking point was whether or not former blue James Milner should have still been on the field. At 1-1, the midfielder, who had turned right-back for this game, brought down Silva with a cynical foul, that on another day would have been a yellow card. But, already on a yellow, the referee refused to show another card.
Manager Guardiola was incensed, and rightly so. If that had been a blue shirt, there is no way they would have stayed on the field. City rescued a point through Kevin de Bruyne, and it feels weird saying it was disappointing to only come away with a point from the red half of Merseyside.
Four points out of a possible six from two of the top teams means we are still up there, and what is better is that, having faced Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Leicester away, City are still above world beaters United!
Sadly though, the same cannot be said for our girls, who are having a torrid time at the moment. After losing to Real Madrid, City’s women’s team have taken a nose-dive. It’s like the men’s team for the 80’s and 90’s, when they’d lose a match then suddenly forget how to win. And after that controversial defeat at home to Spurs, the City jinx has really hit them hard.
A 5-0 hammering at Arsenal, their heaviest WSL defeat was crushing. City were in for a torrid time, but seemed devoid of any plan B against the Gunners. Arsenal were much the better side, but the blues could find no way of stemming the Arsenal tide. They allowed Arsenal too much time, too much space and too much of the ball to have any impact on the game.
They were like a shadow of the team that secured a 2-1 win last season, but at least they had Leicester and West Ham at home that would surely compensate for such a loss.
Against Leicester, they looked to have turned the corner. After a goalless first half, City ran riot, with Bunny Shaw grabbing a hat-trick as they hit six second half goals. The newly promoted WSL side looked like deers in headlights as the blues ran rings around them. It was a brilliant second half display that would make the West Ham match interesting and gave the fans hope that he blip was over.
But no such luck as the Hammers pulled off a shock 2-0 victory. City had their chances but the visiting keeper, alongside poor finishing and again lack of Plan B was City’s downfall. Pressure will now mount on Gareth Taylor, who insists the blues can turn it around.
Defeat against United on Sunday and the fans will have the daggers out for the former City striker. We can take losing, but defeat against the Stretford Rangers may be a defeat too far for the fans to take.