Done By : Bhavdeep Singh
A new era began at title favourites Manchester City last night, the first match of this new era was played against Sunderland at home, and while several were expecting the home team to prevail, things didn’t look all that good for City. After scoring from the spot in the 4th minute, Manchester City was pretty poor in the final third throughout, they conceded a decent equaliser later on but got all three points after a late own goal by Sunderland’s new signing Paddy McNair.
The match overall was boring, it reminded me a lot of the 2015/16 season of City’s neighbours and fierce rivals, Manchester United, who were criticised for not creating enough chances while having high possession and simply battle it out in midfield. Van Gaal would probably be smiling to himself if he watched the game.
Match Report and Analysis
The match started with a promise of an entertaining game, not as much of a box to box one but one dominated by City, but one that would show some quality plays and perhaps a few goals here and there. Right off the bat, city were on the attack, the promise seemed to be kept when the ball was knocked forward for Sterling who got an early penalty in the 4th minute. Sergio Aguero came up to the spot and as expected, it ended up in the goal.
Sounds interesting? But that’s about it
Once they scored from the spot, City took a step back and became the Manchester United that I wrote of earlier, the ball was knocked around in midfield and even though players moved up to the box, either they were too less for the wingers to put the ball in, or it simply did not reach them for some reason. I must give credit to Sunderland for getting their stuff together after conceding an early goal to pull off a decent defensive performance.
New singing Nolito seemed to be an important figure in the game as he came very close to scoring once or twice, he seems to gel well with the rest of the team and seems to be promising for the season. Another new signing, John Stones, was pretty solid in defence, made a few errors, but nothing major, a decent performance that should get him into Josep Guardiola’s good books. David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne came up once or twice but were virtually absent for most of the game, along with Sergio Aguero.
A primary reason that City were simply unable to attack, or create chances was the out of form under performer, Raheem Sterling, he stated the game despite a bad overall performance in the Euros to the surprise of several and obviously did not deliver. His passes were sloppy, his finishing was absent, and just overall, he did not seem to be able to do anything up front after getting that early penalty (to pay 50 million for the man seems outrageous now). He is still young though and has a lot to learn and must concentrate on doing exactly that.
The back four weren’t tested a lot, since the ongoing midfield battle was being dominated by City, Sunderland were unable to use the presence of Kolarov in central defence to their advantage. They could have exploited the opportunity to score more than a goal, however, they did get a good ball in to Jermain Defoe, who didn’t require much to put it behind Willy Caballero, who by the way, was in goal instead of Joe Hart (an article coming up on the reason behind that pretty soon)
The equaliser must have been a wake up call for City since the urgency to score a goal was evident, but Sunderland had quite understood their pattern of attack and it became very difficult to penetrate the defence. David Moyes’ team seemed to have parked the bus and it looked like it was going to go down as a draw.
Wave after wave of city attacks were deflected and dealt with by Sunderland but the score remained the same until Jesus Navas, who was brought on as a sub to Nolito, squared in a beautiful ball, and in an attempt to clear it and put it over the goal, new signing Paddy McNair headed it straight into the goal, giving city the lead in the 87th minute.
Kudos given again to Sunderland for having a positive mindset despite the goal and make the four minutes of stoppage time for Manchester City look like a century, but their efforts were in vain as it ended at 2-1.
The problem with Manchester City is clear, they need someone better than Fernandinho at the top of midfield and that man is going through a knee problem, Ikay Gundogan would be a pivotal factor and his inclusion to the side should be able to regulate the game a lot more. They do however, need a winger because Raheem Sterling is simply not good enough (I might regret saying that if he scores 20 goals this season but for now, there’s a better chance of aliens invading earth than him netting 20).
Sunderland were quite unlucky and did a good job to defend overall, but by no means was their game a good one, I will give them a little bit of levay because the new manager came in on just the 23rd of July, and needs a little time to get things working his way at the club, but the midfield was quite miserable, the penalty was given carelessly and the attack was non existent, although, when it did come up, Jermain Defoe seemed quite promising, if Moyes can work on him and build a good partnership, he just might stay at Sunderland for the entire season
Images : BBC Sport, The Guardian