City celebrated booking their place in the League Cup Final a couple of weeks ago with another comfortable win in front of an understandably small crowd of around 14,000. West Ham offered almost nothing, City gave us another fantastic performance. It was a great night out, and here are a few thoughts…
Well that was pretty great, wasn’t it? Lopes was simply brilliant last night in only his second first team start. On the basis of that performance, he is so obviously ready for a permanent promotion that it would be grossly negligent to send him back to the reserves.
He spent the evening imposing himself on much more experienced players, making them sweat and look amateurish. Razvan Rat in particular had an evening he will want to forget. Lopes added two assists to his superb display – the first a perfect cross onto Negredo’s head from the left; the second a ball slipped through to Aguero after fighting off several of West Ham’s insipid midfielders. The most encouraging thing about Lopes’ performance last night is it suggested that, as well as being a member a superior footballer, he understands the City playing style and can thrive in it.
I had the dubious pleasure of being in the Sheffield Wednesday end when they went away to Watford and won earlier in the season (don’t ask). From what I saw of the home team, they set themselves up perfectly for a player like Lopes to exploit their weaknesses. It would be lovely to see him again this coming Saturday.
City’s excellent record in the League Cup continued with another clean sheet for Pantilimon. They have only conceded one goal in the competition this year and will hopefully carry that form on through the Wembley final. That would be a real statement of dominance. Placed in a wider context, the clean sheet is not exactly a relief, but it is very welcome. City have been playing a lot of games recently and a degree of sloppiness is inevitable at some point when second string players have to step in. Getting clean sheets, even in dead rubber matches against weak opposition, will give the rotated players the confidence to do it in the matches that really count.
Watford are in town on Saturday for the FA Cup Fourth Round and more players will surely be rested. Now that Rodwell and Jovetic are available it would be good to see Fernandinho and Negredo be given a break before the trip to Tottenham next Wednesday. They both look tireless at the moment, but the season still has four months left to run and City cannot afford to have that pair burn out. Negredo especially could do with a break following a late injury to his shoulder. He finished the match but looked in a fair amount of pain.
A Complete Team Performance
What we saw last night was a team in synch with each other. As Jack Pitt-Brooke says in his match report in the Independent, “Manchester City simply [scored] goals when it suited them.” The attacking prowess on show was as impressive as always, but the idea should be taken further. The defence was also excellent, albeit against a limited West Ham side, with Lescott in particular impressing both in the air and on the ground. He was captain for the night and took the responsibility well. When not keeping West Ham out he was regularly instigating attacks, linking well with the midfielders.
The midfielders and strikers themselves blended together into an unrecognisable formation. The players appeared to have no set formation for large parts of the game as they swapped positions at random, covering each other and confusing the home team. West Ham had no answers.
The obvious conclusion to draw from last night is that after half a season the Pellegrini ideals are really starting to take root with this team. Everything the manager says about hard work, constant attacking, and having the right mentality has its end point in performances like this. If City can start playing like this against the really top sides then we have one hell of a team on our hands.
Finally, #Jovetic is real. I saw him! He isn’t just an elaborate money laundering scheme and is a real footballer.
Written by Alex Timperley