Saturday, 30 November 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Swansea City

Laudrup's Swans set to face the murky waters of the Etihad

By Adam Bailey

European enterprises held very different outcomes for both sides as Swansea suffered midweek misery whilst City enjoyed hilarity at home once again. Daniel Parejo's goal earned Valencia a 1-0 win in Wales on Thursday and the Welsh side must record at least a point in their next tie against St Gallen if they are to reach the last 32 of the competition. 

Swansea will travel to Manchester on Sunday with their ammunition severely depleted. Top scorers Wilfried Bony (10) and Michu (7) both suffered injuries in the mid-week fixture leaving Michael Laudrup with unsettling shortages up top. 

For Manuel Pellegrini's side however, Swansea's injuries have come at the perfect time. A shaky defensive performance on Wednesday night was masked by yet another attacking masterclass that saw Sergio Agüero, Samir Nasri, Álvaro Negredo and Edin Džeko help City to their 15th goal of the Champions League group stages.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Manchester City 4 - 2 Viktoria Plzeň: Thoughts and Ratings

By Jack Mumford

A 4-2 win in the Champions League should never be a disappointment but that was the general feeling at the Etihad Stadium last night.

Obviously with City already being through and Bayern’s earlier victory in Moscow, the Blues would have to get an unlikely win 3-0 in the Allianz Arena - resulting in this game being a dead rubber. 

Manuel Pellegrini made seven changes to the side that dismantled Tottenham and I went to the Etihad expecting fringe players like Edin Džeko and Joleon Lescott attempt to stake their claim for a future starting berth. 

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

However, against much weaker opposition many of these players looked like they had found their level or were suffering from a lack of motivation. In truth, the players that impressed most were those who are already regulars. Samir Nasri, Sergio Agüero and Fernandinho seemed to drag the rest of the team kicking and screaming through the match.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Match Reflection: Manchester City 4 - 2 Viktoria Plzeň

Pellegrini's progressors show Hart against a vivacious Viktoria Plzeň 

By Adam Bailey

Manchester City's impeccable home record almost suffered a frightening blow on Wednesday night as a vibrant Viktoria Plzeň side launched a full scale assault inside the Etihad Stadium.

A relaxed home crowd, buoyed by their side's progression into the last 16 of the Champions League, were treated to yet another goalscoring flurry on home territory. Seven changes were made to the outfit that savaged Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon and a shaky defence had their attackers to thank in a below par performance.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Viktoria Plzeň

City face Czech champions in final home European group tie

By Aaron Leggott

As the football season hits December, many fans across Europe start to prepare for an exhilarating month of football as the Champions League group stage reaches its climax. 

However, those connected with Manchester City will, in some ways, be glad to be able to focus on other competitions after qualification to the knockout stages was secured against CSKA Moscow earlier this month.

Of course, Manuel Pellegrini would prefer to see his side top Group D and receive a potentially easier route into the quarter finals, but the Chilean will acknowledge that any possibility of that happening will only occur if Pep Guardiola's side have a major slip up - which doesn't look likely on current form.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

City's opponents for their penultimate fixture appear in the form of Czech champions Viktoria Plzeň - the team yet to register a point in the Champions League this season.

Manchester City 6 - 0 Tottenham Hotspur: Thoughts and Ratings

By Jack Mumford

Well another scintillating performance against one of the best teams in the league at the Etihad Stadium. Many fans must now be dreaming of where we would be if only we could produce this form away from home.

The ghost of Sunderland felt like it was hanging over the club at the start of the day but City certainly showed they have moved on by putting six past one of the meanest defences in the country.

Many City players had their best game for a long while and Tottenham just couldn’t deal with it. If a side as good as Spurs struggled to deal with us then the rest of the Premier League must fear their trip to the Etihad Stadium. Such an emphatic performance only makes it more baffling that City aren’t running away with the Premier League this season.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

In Sergio Agüero Manchester City have a player that is simply on top of his game, and potentially the world, right now. Every time he received the ball yesterday he glided around any defender in front of him - leading to Pellegrini calling him the “third best player in the world." Agüero has defenders constantly running scared at the moment and it is simply a joy to watch such a talent playing in a City shirt. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Match Reflection: Manchester City 6 - 0 Tottenham Hotspur

Six of the best sees City climb up the table

By Aaron Leggott

Yes, you read the title of that post right. Tottenham not only beaten, but humiliated. It is very rare (in fact, unbelievable) to see a scoreline between two top sides that reflects such a dominant performance, but in truth City should and could have had even more against an embarrassing Spurs side at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.

Goals from Sergio Agüero, Álvaro Negredo and Jesús Navas secured another historic victory for the Blues on home turf, and leaves critics questioning the reasons why Manuel Pellegrini's men can't replicate these performances away from home.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Pellegrini's under-performers look ahead to a Sunday spar with Spurs

By Adam Bailey

Late comebacks and late goals have been a welcome characteristic of City - Spurs clashes down the years, but is it too late for Manchester City to resurrect their fading title hopes?

The Blues slump in a dismal eighth place after eleven Premier League games and contemptible comparisons are already being made regarding City's irresistible home and painful away form. Pellegrini's men suffered a customary 1-0 loss at 'The Stadium Of Plight' a fortnight ago in a phlegmatic performance and a number of dark clouded questions now lie over the Chilean's head.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Blue Review: The brilliance of Sergio Agüero

Why one Argentinian could play a massive role in the Blues' title bid

By Jack Mumford

If there was one way to describe City’s season so far I would use the phrase ‘hot and cold’. Some brilliant performances - most notably the derby in September and the mauling of Norwich - have been cancelled out largely by individual errors at several Premier League grounds around the country.

The one constant shining beacon of hope though, the reason I and many others still believe we could be in for a very successful season is the escalation in form of Sergio "Kun" Agüero.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Match Reflection: Sunderland 1 - 0 Manchester City

Bardsley bursts City's title hopes

By Adam Bailey

Ex-Manchester United defender Phil Bardsley condemned Manchester City to their fourth defeat of the season in a 1-0 win that inflicted significant wounds into City's title hopes. 

The Stadium of Light has become a 'stadium of plight' for the Blues who have now suffered four consecutive 1-0 losses in Wearside. Gus Poyet's Black Cats were drowning in the depths of the relegation zone before 2pm on Sunday afternoon, but a thrilling three points against Manuel Pellegrini's side will help scratch themselves back up the table.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

The hosts started brightly when Sebastian Larsson tested the alertness of a make-shift City defence with a wicked ball that just escaped striker Steven Fletcher. However, the Swede was lucky to escape a straight red card just minutes later when he presented Javi Garcia with a menacing view of the bottom of his boot. Mike Dean was perfectly positioned, but not even a yellow was shown to the midfielder.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

In the Spotlight: Sunderland

No. 12: Paolo di Canio, Gus Poyet and the impact of Steven Fletcher

By Jack Mumford

City travel to the Stadium of Light this weekend to face a struggling Sunderland side. We caught up with Sunderland fan Glen Cardy (@glencardy7) to consider their season so far and look ahead to Sunday’s match.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Match Preview: Sunderland vs Manchester City

Pellegrini hoping to engineer City to an away victory

By Aaron Leggott

Recent trips to the Stadium of Light haven't been filled with happiness for the Blues, with a flurry of last minute winners from the Mackems succumbing the Blues to defeat after defeat. 

In fact, the last four victories have seen City failing to register a win - with three defeats and a draw the outcomes in that period. 

And with Manuel Pellegrini's looking extremely frail on the road this season, this probably isn't the fixture they would have wanted next.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Manchester City 5 - 2 CSKA Moscow: Thoughts and Ratings

By Aaron Leggott

My thoughts

What a great performance to cap off and ensure Champions League qualification at the third time of asking. 

Despite the group we were given, it is a hugely impressive feat to qualify with two games spare. Not only does it give us the opportunity to rest players in the remaining two fixtures against Viktoria Plzeň and Bayern Munich, but it also gives the players a new breed of confidence as they enter new territory. 

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Of course, our form in the Premier League will also benefit if we are to rest key players, and will give us an advantage on rivals who are still yet to qualify from their respective groups.

Match Reflection: Manchester City 5 - 2 CSKA Moscow

‘Beauty and the Beast’ seal last 16 qualification for the first time in City history

By Adam Bailey

The Etihad Stadium was treated to another five Manchester City goals on Tuesday night as Álvaro Negredo and Sergio Agüero ran riot in a 5-2 win over CSKA Moscow. 

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Manuel Pellegrini’s impressive Champions League credentials were on the line before the crucial tie in Manchester, but his side were in fine form to seal a comprehensive victory that fired them into the last sixteen for the first time in their history. 

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs CSKA Moscow

Group Stage qualification just one win away for City in the Champions League

By Aaron Leggott

Following the 2-1 victory in Russia's capital city a fortnight ago, City and CSKA Moscow meet again at the Etihad Stadium with the Blues needing a win to ensure qualification from the Champions League for the first time in their history.

The reverse fixture between the teams was marred by hundreds of CSKA fans aiming racist abuse at Yaya Touré, and the Ivorian will probably be looking to silence the minority and help his team reach the knockout stages.

And following the 7-0 drubbing of Norwich City at the weekend, City come into the game in good form, winning four of the last five in all competitions.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Manchester City 7 - 0 Norwich City: Thoughts and Ratings

By Adam Bailey

My thoughts

A good old mauling is something City haven't seen in a while, and so Saturday's 7-0 slaying of Norwich City unsurprisingly left us fans drooling. The Blues love scoring goals against the Canaries and we locked them firmly in their cage on Saturday afternoon in a magical performance in which David Silva majestically waved his wand.

Last weekend's late loss to Chelsea left a sour taste in the mouth and an authoritative response was required from Manuel's minions who are still hoping to march towards the Premier League crown. Pellegrini went with a sizzlingly strong squad with Costel Pantillimon occupying the space between the sticks. The inclusion of the big Romanian was expected and although I'd love to comment on his performance, he hardly touched the ball!

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Match Reflection: Manchester City 7 - 0 Norwich City

City blow the Canaries out the water

By Jack Mumford

City demolished a shambolic Norwich City side by scoring seven for the first time in their Premier League history on a blustery afternoon at the Etihad Stadium. Completing 712 passes in the process, the victory never seemed in doubt for City who were dominant in every aspect.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

Returning to the Etihad which has been such a fortress for the last few seasons after almost a month of away games, City’s array of attacking options just appeared to be too clever and too quick for a hapless Norwich defence.

As rumoured, Costel Pantilimon started in goal ahead of Joe Hart but as you can probably gather from the score line, anyone of the 47,066 crowd could probably have been in net for City. He was forced into one smart diving save in the first half but for the most part he was merely a spectator to the massacre like the rest of us.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Norwich City

Hart set to be dropped for City's first home game in three weeks

By Aaron Leggott

Following a 2-0 victory against Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup, City are set to welcome Norwich City to the Etihad Stadium as Manuel Pellegrini's men prepare to play their first home game in three weeks.
Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

The win during midweek saw City progress to the quarter-finals of the cup - where they will play Leicester City - a performance which saw Costel Pantilimon replace a out-of-form Joe Hart in the goal. 

In Pellegrini's defence, Pantilimon was always expected to start in the league cup tie, but there is set to be a surprise as the big Romanian has been reported to be replacing Hart against Norwich to make his first Premier League start in City colours.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Match Reflection: Newcastle United 0 - 2 Manchester City

Merlin inspires City to quarter finals

By Jack Mumford

City finally reached the end of their long run of away games last night after a lifeless second string side crawled past Newcastle United 2-0 after extra time at St James’ Park. The Blues will now travel to Leicester City in the last eight of the Capital One Cup.

Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

However, Manuel Pellegrini will be worried tonight after Stevan Jovetić and Micah Richards both left the pitch injured. 

Montenegrin Jovetić lasted only 10 minutes in his return from a hamstring injury and Richards hobbled off the pitch after 80 minutes suggesting he was struggling with cramp.  

Last night ended the sequence of 4 successive away games in 11 days which has included two trips to London to face West Ham and Chelsea and the long haul flight to Moscow.