Monday, November 10, 2014

Man City Report - Derby Win & Not Much Else

Following the second international break of the season, Man City had seven matches from mid-October through early November before their next international break: four EPL matches, two UEFA Champions League group stage matches, and one Capital One Cup match.

In the first of those seven matches, Man City picked up where they left off in the EPL with a 4-1 win at home over Tottenham thanks to four goals by striker Sergio Aguero.  Man City's Champions League struggles continued with a 2-2 tie on the road against CSKA in an empty stadium on a shaky late penalty for CSKA. The match was played in an empty stadium because of racist chants fans sang at previous matches.  Unfortunately Man City's struggles in the Champions League spilled over into their EPL form with a 2-1 road loss to West Ham.  Just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse, October ended in horrid fashion as Man City crashed out of the Capital One Cup with a 2-0 loss at home to Newcastle.  Thankfully November started out better than October ended as Man City beat Man United 1-0 at home against a 10-man United side that deserved to lose the first Manchester Derby of the 2014-15 season.  Those positive vibes could NOT carry over to the Champions League as Man City lost 2-1 at home to CSKA to put their hopes of advancing to the knockout phase of the Champions League on life support as they finished the match with nine guys after midfielders Fernandinho and Yaya Toure were both given red cards.  Man City tied QPR 2-2 on the road in the EPL in their final match before the third international break of the season.

Following their most uneven set of matches in over a calendar year, here are my updated player rankings for Man City:

2014-15 Player Rankings 2.0
1. Sergio Aguero (F, LR 2)
2. Vincent Kompany (D, LR 3)
3. Yaya Toure (M, LR 1) 
4. David Silva (M, LR 4) 
5. Pablo Zabaleta (D, LR 5)
6. Edin Dzeko (F, LR 7)
7. Samir Nasri (M, LR 6)

8. Joe Hart (GK, LR 9)
9. James Milner (M, LR 11) 
10. Jesus Navas (M, LR 10)
11. Aleksandar Kolarov (D, LR 15)

12. Fernandinho (M, LR 8)
13. Stevan Jovetic (F, LR 13) 
14. Fernando (M, LR 12)
15. Eliaquim Mangala (D, LR 14)
16. Gael Clichy (D, LR 16)
17. Martin Demichelis (D, LR 17)

18. Bacary Sagna (D, LR 19) 
19. Willy Caballero (GK, LR 18)
20. Dedryck Boyata (D, LR 21) 
21. Matija Nastasic (D, LR 20)
22. Scott Sinclair (M, LR 22)

23. José Ángel Pozo (M, LR 23)
24. Sinan Bytyqi (M, LR 24)
25. Frank Lampard (M, LR 25)
26. Richard Wright (GK LR 26)
1) Sergio Aguero (F, LR 2): So far this season Aguero has 12 of Man City's 22 EPL goals and no one else scored more than two EPL goals
.  I am not sure what the NBA Jam equavalent of "on fire" is in soccer but whatever it is, that is what Aguero is right now.  In fact if Aguero fails to score in the EPL, Man City usually loses.  Take Man City's four EPL matches discussed above: 4-1 win over Tottenham (four Aguero goals), 2-1 lose to West Ham (zero Aguero goals), 1-0 win over Man United (one Aguero goal), and 2-2 tie with QPR (two Aguero goals).  I never thought I would love a Man City forward from Argentina more than Carlos Tevez but Aguero's flair for the dramatic goals throughout his Man City tenure (remember his 2011-12 EPL title clincher against QPR!?!?!) OFFICIALLY makes him my favorite Man City forward from Argentina of all time.

9) James Milner (M, LR 11): I've long hailed defender Pablo Zabaleta as the most versatile player on the roster despite the fact that he only plays right outside back for Man City because of how well he defends and seamlessly counters-attacks.  Milner's performances so far this season is giving Zabaleta a run for his money given that Milner lined up at every midfield position and even played right back in a pinch earlier this season.  Other than Milner's impressive work rate there is nothing else that stands out about his game as exceptional but that alone gets him well deserved appearances for Man City even though there are many more technically skilled passers and finishers that could line-up ahead of him in the midfield for Man City.  Milner's contract runs out at the end of the season.  I hope Man City are able to retain his services because if Milner leaves not only would it be on a free transfer but Man City would also be forced to spend roughly $25 to $30 million in the open market to get a versatile midfielder like Milner.

12) Fernandinho (M, LR 8): I found the Fernando signing over the 2014 Summer Transfer Window curious.  Sure that signing looked like a straight replacement for Javi Garcia but Fernando's presence made me worry about Fernandinho's spot in the team.  Fernandinho started the season slow following an emotionally and physically draining World Cup Cup in his home country of Brazil.  Thankfully Fernandinho looked more like himself as of late till he was sent off in the Champions League against CSKA.  Last season Fernandinho and Yaya Toure formed one of the most dynamic central midfield tandems in club history but that spark has just not been there this season.  Each guy deserves some blame for the tandem's collective dip in form.  It certainly will be interesting to see how the duo performs in the next couple months given all the fixtures in such a short period of time.  If the tandem struggles, look for Fernando to move ahead of Fernandinho.

21) Matija Nastasic (D, LR 20): Apparently Nastasic is NOT in Man City's long-term plans, which is a shocking fall from grace for Nastasic given that Man City paid Fiorentina roughly $20 million for his services in the 2012 Summer Transfer Window and they signed him to a five-year contract that runs through the 2016-17 EPL season.  Unless Nastasic is a locker room cancer, it makes no sense to me for Man City to give up on Nastasic given that he is still just 21 years old.  I know Nastasic has been perpetually injured during his Man City tenure and is currently 4th on the central defender depth chart behind Kompany, Demichelis, and Mangala but young defenders like Nastasic are hard to find.  In fact they are valued so much by clubs that Man City paid $50 million for Mangala's services this summer.  If healthy, I say give Nastasic some FA Cup starts.  Worst case, you pump up his transfer value.  Best case, you rediscover the central defender you thought your purchased a couple years ago to give Man City some much needed depth at central defender for the first time in a very long time.

Man City has a ton of matches from mid-November through mid-January so make sure to check back for my next Man City Report once Man City's fate in the group stage of the Champions League is decided in mid-December.

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