Thursday, December 11, 2014

Man City Report - On Fire Thanks to Six Wins in Six Matches

Following the third international break of the season, Man City had six matches from late November through early December: four EPL matches and two UEFA Champions League group stage matches.  Man City won two of the last three EPL titles so the next logical step for them to become one of the most successful clubs in the world is to win the Champions League, which is why the sixth of those six matches was the most important on the road against Roma in the Champions League.

The international break did some good for Man City because in the first of their six matches following the international break they beat Swansea 2-1 at home in the EPL.  Man City's Champions League chances were kept on life support thanks to a hat trick by Sergio Aguero to beat Bayern Munich 3-2 at home.  That qualify form carried over into the EPL as Man City trounced Southampton 3-0 on the road to jump leapfrog them into second place in the EPL standings.  Man City followed that up with another road victory in the EPL, this time 4-1 over Sunderland.  Man City returned home for a hard fought 1-0 victory over Everton in the EPL just hours after Chelsea lost to Newcastle to narrow Chelsea's lead in the table to just three points.  Man City not only won their sixth match in a row with a 2-0 road win over Roma in the Champions League but thanks to a CSKA loss to Bayern Munich, Man City improbably qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League thanks to taking 6 points in their last two Champions League matches after they earned just two points in their first four matches.

Here are my updated player rankings for Man City following their best six match stretch (so far) of the 2014-15 season:

6) Samir Nasri (M, LR 7): If Man City are somehow able to win the Champions League this year, there is no doubt that Nasri's howler that put Man City up 1-0 over Roma will go down as one of the more important goals in club history.  Last year I was bummed that Man City finished second in their group to Bayern Munich because it mean that they faced Barcelona in the knockout stage.  This year, I am just happy to see Man City progress to the knockout stage.  Given Champions League knockout stage rules, since Man City finished second in their group they will face one of the eight group winners but cannot face the team from their group (Bayern Munich) or another club from their country (Chelsea), which leaves six other teams that Man City could face in the knockout stage.  Here are my rankings of the match-ups from best to worst for Man City: FC Porto, AS Monaco, Athletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. It is all gravy in the Champions League at this point given how dire things looked just two matches ago in the group stages.  As long as Man City do NOT have to face Real Madrid or Barcelona in the knockout stages, I like their chances to move onto the quarterfinals and one step closer to a Champions League title.

2014-15 Player Rankings 3.0
1. Sergio Aguero (F, LR 1)
2. Vincent Kompany (D, LR 2)
3. Yaya Toure (M, LR 3)
4. David Silva (M, LR 4)
5. Pablo Zabaleta (D, LR 5)
6. Samir Nasri (M, LR 7)
7. Edin Dzeko (F, LR 6)
8. Joe Hart (GK, LR 8)

9. James Milner (M, LR 9)
10. Jesus Navas (M, LR 10)
11. Eliaquim Mangala (D, LR 15) 12. Stevan Jovetic (F, LR 13)
13. Aleksandar Kolarov (D, LR 11)
14. Fernandinho (M, LR 12)
15. Fernando (M, LR 14)
16. Gael Clichy (D, LR 16)
17. Martin Demichelis (D, LR 17)

18. Bacary Sagna (D, LR 18)
19. Willy Caballero (GK, LR 19)
20. José Ángel Pozo (M, LR 23)
21. Dedryck Boyata (D, LR 20)
22. Scott Sinclair (M, LR 22)
23. Matija Nastasic (D, LR 21)
24. Sinan Bytyqi (M, LR 24)
25. Frank Lampard (M, LR 25)
26. Richard Wright (GK, LR 26)
18) Bacary Sagna (D, LR 18): Given that Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia were sold this summer, I really had to stretch to find a current member of Man City besides Frank Lampard that looks likely to play for Man City's MLS "Sister" club New York City FC.  Despite the fact that Sagna joined Man City on a free transfer from Arsenal this summer, Man City signed Sagna to a three-year, $235,000 a week contract.  That weekly contract is way too rich for a striker as a designated player, let alone a right back so I would be shocked if Sagna left for New York City FC till after his contract expires after the 2016-17 season.  This is really an elaborate ruse to recap New York City FC's expansion draft results couched under a description of a current Man City player so instead of trying to continue this ruse, let's just look at New York City FC's expansion draft results.  Subject to a number of rules, Orlando and New York City FC were each able to select 10 players in the expansion draft.  Here are the players that NYCFC selected: Ned Grabavoy (M, Salt Lake), Patrick Mullins (F, New England), Jason Hernandez (D, San Jose), Daniel Lovitz (M, Toronto), Tony Taylor (F, New England), Mehdi Ballouchy (M, Vancouver), George John (D, Dallas), Thomas McNamara (M, D.C. United), Sal Zizzo (M, Kansas City), and Chris Wingert (D, Salt Lake).  I will do my best to brush up on the list above because before today I had never heard of any of those guys besides Mullins and John.  I am the same guy that gets up at the crack of dawn on the weekends to catch EPL matches so I am not sure if that is more of an indictment on me or the MLS that I only know two of the ten MLS players selected by New York City FC in the MLS expansion draft.

20) José Ángel Pozo (M, LR 23): With Sergio Aguero out until at least the start of 2015 and possibly longer, the third striker available to Pellegrini is Pozos, which seems downright crazy given that Man City is one of the richest clubs in the world.  Some referred to Pozos as "Mini Messi", in the words of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers R-E-L-A-X.  Sure Rodgers used relax differently than I am using it here but let's keep in mind that Pozos is only 18 years old while Messi is arguably the best club striker of all-time even though he is only 27 years old.  Before you get too excited, note the use of the word "club".  I know Messi has NOT won a World Cup with Argentina, which is why I said he is the most successful club striker.  If Messi were to somehow win a World Cup in 2018 in Russia or 2022 in Qatar, with all due respect to Pele, he will go down as the best striker of all-time.  Back to Pozos, the fact that he is the third option at striker with Aguero out is exactly the reason that I did NOT support Man City's decision to loan out striker Alvaro Negredo to help comply with UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations.  Let's hope that Pozos can grow up fast or Aguero can recover from injury sooner rather expected, otherwise Man City's title chase could be over before the start of 2015 because of Man City's packed but relatively easy EPL slate for the rest of 2014: road against Leicester, home against Crystal Palace, road against West Brom, and home against Burnley.  That does NOT mean Man City should get complacent though because anything less than 12 points will be a disappointment.

Check back following Man City's match at home against Burnley for my thoughts on how Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini should approach the January transfer window.

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