Manchester City comfortably secured their passage to the fourth round of the League Cup with a 1-4 at Sunderland last night. Goals from Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and an own goal Vito Mannone meant that the game was won after a mere 36 minutes. Here is a look at the main talking points of the night.
De Bruyne Conquers Sunderland
If there was any doubt about the calibre of player City were buying when they shelled out £58 million for De Bruyne in the summer transfer window, that has quickly dissipated with a string of eye catching performances. Last night was, perhaps, his best showing so far. Though far too early to be sure, it looks like Manuel Pellegrini may have a player on his hands that is capable of filling the gaping chasm left by David Silva when the diminutive Spaniard is unavailable. De Bruyne’s first touch is a joy to behold. No matter how the ball arrives in his possession he seems able to almost instantly bring it under control. Whilst some players pontificate over their next move, De Bruyne seems fully aware of his surroundings and gives the impression that he has already planned his next pass or move before he has the ball. A goal and an assist were fitting reward for a player who is taking Manchester by storm.
Youth Given A Chance
The League Cup is often viewed as the ideal competition to blood youngsters that wouldn’t otherwise get an opportunity the first team, but given the strength of the starting 11 last night it seemed as if Pellegrini’s priority was to win, and rightly so. After the game, the manager confirmed as much as he said: “It was important to win the way we did today because we have just come from two important defeats, one in the Champions League and the other in the Premier League, so it was important to start this Capital One Cup in the way that we did in the first half.”
That said, the bench was awash with young talent and all three substitutions in the second half gave senior debuts to Patrick Roberts, Manu Garcia and George Evans. Evans, in particular, made history as he is the first player to play at every level for City from under 8s through to the first team.
Though it is encouraging to see youth given a chance any suggestion that these players should have started the game are wide of the mark. It would have been an unfair burden on young shoulders to be thrown in at the deep end, especially given the team were coming off the back of two consecutive defeats. All three subs showed glimpses of skill and could, in time, fit well into the squad, but the gap in the quality between the first team and academy is such that starting youth without any reasonable introduction into the first time would have been naïve.
Fernando Impresses On Return
Much has been said about Fernando’s woes in his debut season but in his first appearance of the season last night, he impressed. Many will point to the caveat that Sunderland were pretty shambolic but nevertheless the Brazilian midfielder showed a good reading of the game and helped City dominate the midfield. After recently revealing that he battled through a niggling injury last season it will be interesting to see whether staying injury free this season will improve his fortunes. He has much to do to convince the supporters that he can offer something to this team but if Javi Garcia can turn it around after a turbulent first 18 months at City there is no reason why Fernando can’t.
A Word On That Kit
What a monstrosity. That said, as the game wore on though I began to quite like it, although, perhaps my pixelated stream had something to do with it. I can handle it from a distance but up close it really quite offensive. Also, since when do kits have name? “Night Rising” sounds like some kind of Batman film. What a world we live in!
"My mum says I look good in ghost green." pic.twitter.com/NbYXD3RcNl
— City Scrawlings (@CityScrawlings) September 22, 2015
Written by Rob Toole