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.

 Our current form has been nothing short of exhilarating in the past few weeks and if we can replicate this away from the Etihad then we're sure to be successful on all fronts this year.

One of the main reasons for this form has been the front four of Sergio Agüero, Álvaro Negredo, David Silva and Samir Nasri - all of whom have been at the top of their game over the past month. Nasri, in particular, looks a new player under Manuel Pellegrini and it is refreshing to see him look so classy alongside Silva. 

I personally thought he deserved the man of the match award yesterday - but I have no qualms over the choice of Negredo. A lot of people hinted that the Spaniard would be a flop in Manchester, but his record this season speaks for itself. With nine goals in ten games, he has solidified a formidable partnership alongside Agüero which is arguably one of the best in Europe on current form.

With regards to Agüero  I have run out of words to describe the Argentinian now. He is in red hot form and I would have to agree with the Sky Sports team in their evaluation of the 25 year old as the best out and out striker in the world at the moment.

Some are probably reading that with their eyebrows raised right now, but with both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi used as inside forwards, there aren't many who can top Sergio in truth.

Of course, there are still worries with the defence and if we have an achilles heel, then that would be it at the moment. There always seems to be a mistake when Vincent Kompany isn't involved and it could well cost us in the latter stages.

How far we'll get in the Champions League is hard to tell right now - but if we are serious about becoming one of Europe's strongest sides then we need to be realistically looking to make the quarter finals at least this year.

There's no reason to say we won't go all the way either though. Granted, it would take a lot of good fortune with the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid looking just that bit stronger, but as we've seen in recent years, anything is possible in football.

A game against Sunderland approaches next on Sunday afternoon, and Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping to lift the curse that lingers over City's head when travelling to the Stadium of Light. 

Player ratings

PANTILIMON: Was unfortunate to concede twice and couldn't really do anything with both of CSKA's goals. Everyone knows he is in temporarily and I imagine he will make way for Joe Hart after the international break.

TSBV rating: 6/10

ZABALETA: His usual solid self at full back. Both Zoran Tošić and Keisuke Honda hardly got a sniff all game and the Argentinian had a massive role in that factor.

TSBV rating: 7/10

DEMICHELIS: Some dodgy defending on occasion but he has only played three games for the club so far - he will get better as he regains match fitness.

TSBV rating: 6/10

NASTASIC: Perhaps at fault for CSKA's first after playing Seydou Doumbia onside but apart from that he had a solid game - will be sure to partner Kompany when the Belgian returns from injury.

TSBV rating: 6/10

CLICHY: Not having the best run of form in his career and could well make way for Aleksandar Kolarov if he doesn't pick it up soon. Conceded a penalty after looking suspect up against Doumbia - a worrying trait after the events at Chelsea a fortnight ago.

TSBV rating: 5/10

FERNANDINHO: Looking better as each game passes. Huge upgrade on Nigel de Jong and even Gareth Barry - he will prove to be a vital player as we reach the latter stages of the Champions League. Controlled the midfield last night before going off with a knock at half time.

TSBV rating: 7/10

YAYA TOURE: Like Fernandinho, he controlled the midfield and looked fairly comfortable all game. Didn't let the racism situation go to his head and was unlucky not to score mid-way through the first period.

TSBV rating: 7/10

NASRI: As I mentioned above - he was my man of the match. His passing was top notch and he seemed to glide past CSKA's defenders at times like they weren't there. Deservedly given a standing ovation for the second game running.

TSBV rating: 10/10

SILVA: A typical David Silva performance. He makes playing football look effortless and like he provided the glue in between the holding midfielders and the forwards - a key trait in modern day football

TSBV rating: 8/10

AGUERO: He's had some memorable performances since signing from Atlético Madrid in 2011 but last night was up there with the best. His turn for his second goal was a piece of genius and it was just a shame he didn't get his hat-trick. His work-rate, movement and desire is second to none - hopefully he will be here for a long time to come!

TSBV rating: 9/10

NEGREDO: He has built a scary partnership alongside Agüero and the pair certainly produced fireworks on Bonfire Night yesterday. He is prepared to get in where it hurts and seemingly give his all to the cause. Proved a lot of doubters wrong and is already looking to be one of the signings of the season.
TSBV rating: 9/10


MILNER: Solid and didn't do anything wrong after replacing Fernandinho at half time.

TSBV rating: 6/10

KOLAROV: Didn't make much of an impact after replacing Nasri. Expect him to start ahead of Clichy at Sunderland this weekend.

TSBV rating: 6/10

NAVAS: Game was already on by the time he came on.

No rating

Note: All pictures above from MCFC Official Facebook page

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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