City made it through the FA Cup fourth round after another big home win, this time putting five past Blackburn. Without wishing to patronise Blackburn, they were damn good over the two games, and the hammering they ended up getting last night was a bit harsh. We now face Watford in round-four a week on Saturday.
We’re not going to win the quadruple, of course, but the longer we can stay in the hunt, the more fun the season is going to be.
Here, we look at the performances of each City player in last night’s game.
Costel Pantilimon – 7
Made a couple of excellent saves to keep Blackburn at bay, which was encouraging given he hasn’t seen too much action of late. City need a stronger backup goalkeeper in the long-term, but for now it’s encouraging to see Pantilimon keeping his performance level high despite not being first-choice.
Micah Richards – 7
Great to see Micah back. An awful, injury-ravaged 18-month period has raised doubts, even amongst City fans, about his long-term future at the club. The last time he had a proper run in the side was during the 2011/12 season when we won the title under Mancini, and he was excellent. Since then, though, his injury record has meant he has struggled to get a run of games together, and Pablo Zabaleta has emerged as one of the best right-backs in Europe. It’s a tough situation, but hopefully he can now remain fit. He did well in this match, and looked keen to get forward, which is where the Richards of two years ago excelled.
Joleon Lescott – 7
Did well again. Looks slightly uncomfortable playing on the right side of defence, but his strength and nous were too much for the Blackburn forwards to really penetrate.
Matija Nastasic – 6
Not his best game, it has to be said. The lad who cruised through his first season is having a slightly more up-and-down campaign this time. Still demonstrates his class the majority of the time, and we have a great player for years to come on our hands. Always looks better alongside Kompany, for fairly obvious reasons.
Gael Clichy – 7
His pace got him out of a couple of dodgy situations, and he handled himself well. With Kolarov’s form, though, he is no longer far and away our first-choice left-back.
Javi Garcia – 6
Looked off the pace and struggled to impact the game. Has improved over recent weeks, putting in some useful performances, but this was a step backwards.
Fernandinho – 7
Solid showing, as always, from our Player of the Season so far. Taken off at half-time for a well-earned rest. He’s bright and inventive in possession, and sets up plenty of counter-attacks by winning the ball and looking instantly to release our creative players. As I’ve said on these pages many times, the £30 million fee that at one time dominated the conversation around Fernandinho is becoming irrelevant.
Jesus Navas – 9 (Man of the Match)
Growing in confidence all the time, he influences City every time he plays these days. Had a key role in three goals, including assisting both of Dzeko’s. Fast, confident and a great crosser – we’ve signed a belting player, despite a slightly slow start to his career here.
James Milner – 7.5
What a star Milner is. Versatile, hardworking, full of running and, even though the pundits will never admit it, full of quality. He has a great range of passing and can cross. Slotted in to the centre of midfield in the second-half after a decent first on the left. Love him.
Edin Dzeko – 8
What an improvement in the last three weeks. The sulky, disinterested player that was infuriating us, is now putting a decent shift in and linking play. His finishing has also improved. Two more goals in this match, with the ‘Dzeko-first-time-finish’ becoming a trademark. He now has 15 for the season.
Alvaro Negredo – 8.5
What a buy and what a first season. He has 21 goals in all competitions – two in this match – and looks confident he’ll score every time he goes out on to the field. His work-rate is excellent, his touch beautiful and his strength makes him difficult to mark. Gave Blackburn defenders a torrid time. They’re not the first and certainly won’t be the last.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 7.5
Great cameo. Came on at half-time to give Fernandinho a rest and almost instantly set-up Negredo for his second with an absolutely superb ball. Every player in the City squad has improved under Pellegrini, but none more so than Kolarov.
Sergio Aguero – 7.5
Came on after 72 minutes and had scored within a minute. His first touch was to control the ball in the area, the second was to score. An unbelievable return for a player who will be central to any success we have this season.
Emyr Huws – 7
Debut for Huws and he looked composed and comfortable on the ball. Perfect game to introduce a young player into, and he will have benefited greatly from the experience.
Written by Rob Pollard