City’s fifth win and fifth clean sheet in as many matches leaves them five points clear at the top of the Premier League in what is fast turning out to be an excellent season for Manuel Pellegrini’s men. Crystal Palace made an injury hit City side work hard for this one and it looked for all the world like the match would end as a frustrating goalless draw until super sub Kelechi Iheanacho scored from close range with his first touch in the 90th minute and sent the travelling supporters home happy. Here’s how I rated the players on the day.
1 Joe Hart – 7/10
Just like in the first four games of the season, this was another clean sheet which Hart wasn’t made to work particularly hard for but he never let his concentration drop and did what needed to be done when called upon. The reflex save to deny Jason Puncheon with the score at 0-0 was an extremely important one and keeps England’s No. 1 on course for a fifth career Golden Glove.
3 Bacary Sagna – 7/10
This was another accomplished performance at right back from the Frenchman in a match it was doubtful he’d be fit enough to take part in. Crystal Palace’s roving left back Pape Souaré made life very difficult for Sagna at times but he ran a tight ship while also offering plenty of attacking support down the right hand side.
4 Vincent Kompany – 7/10
The Belgian was again assured and commanding at the back and came out on top in most, if not all, of the duels he was faced with. When he’s fit and on form there are few players in world football you’d rather have in your team than Kompany. Long may it continue.
20 Eliaquim Mangala – 6/10
Although this wasn’t a particularly bad showing from Mangala it did contain traces of the clumsiness we became accustomed to last season both positionally and in possession. The yellow card he picked up was perhaps necessary in halting a dangerous Crystal Palace breakaway but there are much subtler ways to make professional fouls and subtlety isn’t something you’d ever associate with this guy. Performances like this one won’t make it very difficult for his manager to hand a debut to Nicolás Otamendi either next weekend or in mid-week.
11 Aleksandar Kolarov – 5/10
This was comfortably the worst 90 minutes Kolarov has had in what had thus far been a very good season for the Serbian. He gave the ball away far too often, didn’t offer much by way of an attacking threat, struggled with his opponents’ pace throughout the afternoon and was fortunate not to concede a penalty for a tug on Wilfred Zaha’s shirt in the first half. His good form in the first four games had largely been attributed to him being given a settled run in the first team but on this evidence, perhaps a break would do him good.
25 Fernandinho – 7/10
The Brazilian is the sort of player every team needs in that he wins the ball back and keeps things ticking over in midfield while rarely giving less than a 7/10 performance. On Saturday he was typically solid if unspectacular and could have notched up his third goal of the season with a better finish when he met a Wilfried Bony lay off with a well-timed run in the second half. Fabian Delph’s injury problems and Fernando being Fernando means Fernandinho is likely to be involved most of the time this season and his consistency is always welcome.
42 Yaya Touré – 6/10
This was one of those days on which you couldn’t really fault Yaya for a lack of effort but he unfortunately appeared to have left his quality at home. The rash challenge which resulted in a booking in the first half could have been a sending off under different circumstances and his shooting from long range was wayward, to put it kindly. The Ivorian has had much better games, but he’s also had worse.
15 Jesús Navas – 5/10
His poor showing in the last game against Watford meant it was unlikely Navas would have started this game were it not for injuries to David Silva and Raheem Sterling and sadly, the Spaniard didn’t make the most of his second chance against Crystal Palace. It’s difficult to be overly critical of a player who works so hard every time he steps onto the field but he seems completely bereft of confidence in attacking areas and it was no surprise to see him criminally squander what looked to have been City’s best chance to win the game with the goal gaping in the second half.
8 Samir Nasri – 6/10
A first start of the season against Crystal Palace was a just reward for Nasri’s efforts from the bench in the first four games but this was one of those afternoons on which he seemed to be involved in everything while offering little of any substance. His shot from outside the area did lead to City’s winning goal but it was generally an ineffectual performance which showed why he doesn’t really deserve to be a starter for this team when everyone’s fit.
14 Wilfried Bony – 7/10
It was a surprise to see Bony start this match and when Sergio Agüero went off injured it perhaps summed up the Ivorian’s City career to date in that you had to wonder where the goals were going to come from with him leading the line on his own. His hold up play improved greatly as the game wore on but he could and probably should have been more clinical when opportunities to score came his way. Bony really needs a goal and it took an 18-year-old rookie no time at all to show him how it’s done.
10 Sergio Agüero – Substituted too early to mark
After the first four games in which the Argentine was largely making up for a lost pre-season, this was a match many had earmarked as being the one in which he’d really kick on. It was therefore extremely frustrating to see him have to hobble off early in the game after being cruelly clogged by Crystal Palace’s Scott Dann. Thankfully the injury doesn’t appear to be too serious because the last thing he needs is another injury ravaged season.
17 Kevin De Bruyne – 7/10
For a player who’s only spent three days with his new teammates and came on as a substitute much earlier than expected, this was a very encouraging debut from City’s record signing. His quick thinking pass to play in Navas was superb and he generally looked tidy throughout. If De Bruyne doesn’t prove to be an unmitigated success in his second spell in English football I’ll eat my hat.
72 Kelechi Iheanacho – Came on too late to mark
Is there a better sight for a football fan than an academy graduate scoring a winning goal and announcing themselves to the world? I’m not sure there is. Admittedly it wasn’t the most difficult goal anyone’s ever scored, but Kelechi was in the right place at the right time and for a player of such tender years, that’s very promising indeed.
26 Martín Demichelis – Came on too late to mark
I don’t think he even touched the ball but seeing Demichelis coming on to shore things up in injury time just made me feel so safe.
Written by Dan Burke