ANALYSIS: Manchester City 1 vs 0 Stoke City

Are you all alive? Did you survive that with your mind intact? The Etihad saw a strong contender for worst game of the season yesterday as City beat Stoke by one goal to nil. Keep reading below for some shorter than usual thoughts on the narrow victory…

Why Are We Here?

…Was the question that just wouldn’t go away while watching yesterday’s match. We were treated to the sight of an unmotivated team playing against one without ambition. City’s players were visibly tired and flat, and Stoke were sent out to play a Mark Hughes Special, spending much of the match switching in scintillating style from a 10-0-0 to a 6-4-0 and back again. There will not be many less life affirming experiences than that one this season.

It really was dreadful. Ultimate bus parking bar a few lonely long shots from Charlie Adam. It quickly devolved from a potential contest into a glorified session of attack vs. defence which was perhaps inevitably won by Yaya Toure’s six yard strike midway through the second half.

What is Happening?

…Was the question that just wouldn’t go away whenever any of the three City strikers to feature ventured near the ball. The commentators made much hay about how City’s goal spree seems to be over, using the overwhelming evidence of the last four matches against the entire rest of the season. Even though the argument that City have forgotten how to score is, of course, both silly and a bit previous, our strikeforce did not cover themselves with glory.

Edin Dzeko produced a virtuoso performance in the field of ‘how to look like an amateur whilst being paid professional wages’; a first touch which could kindly be described as expansive, running into defenders rather than around them, not chasing back to help out the midfield, and a frankly embarrassing miss from two yards all contributed to Edin’s masterpiece. One bad game does not make an horrorshow, but the fact is that he has not been good enough all season. His performances in January for which he won the Player of the Month competition with, shall we say, a suspicious number of votes now look like the exception to prove the rule.

This is not to forget Negredo who also had an awful game. He has looked off the boil since picking up a shoulder injury picked up in the second leg of the League Cup Semi against West Ham. He did not get into the game at all yesterday and was deservedly substituted in favour of Steven Jovetic in the second half. Is this a result of tiredness from overuse or was his flying start to the season a honeymoon period which we will look back on fondly, with regret? That question should be answered soon as the team has a long break for the first time this season, one that is badly needed by the look of yesterday.

Finally, Jovetic. Oh, Stevan. Please get well soon, you seem like a nice young man cursed with terrible luck. Chin up.

What Are We Doing?

…is the question that seems to pop up on Twitter whenever City fans criticise our own players for playing badly. This school of thought argues that we should blindly praise our players regardless of performance for reasons which I cannot fathom.

Criticising your own players for playing badly is a good thing. It shows that we, as a fan base, are capable of critical thought. It shows that we aren’t slavishly indebted to people we have never met and that we are willing to hold people to account for their actions. Yesterday’s game was terrible from start to finish and to not criticise that just because the players are in blue shirts is dishonest and hypocritical. Hopefully we won’t see another performance like that for a long, long time.

Thank god Aguero is back soon.

Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter

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