After Sergio Agüero and David Silva picked up injuries while on international duty which could rule them both out of action for up to a month, the big questions in the build up to this match all related to how City would cope without two of their most influential attacking players and whether it would hamper our chances of winning the title. Although this was undoubtedly the most straightforward test the Blues will face this week, they coped remarkably well on the day, running out 5-1 winners over AFC Bournemouth thanks to two goals from Wilfried Bony and a hat-trick from Raheem Sterling. Here’s how I rated those two, and everyone else, on the day:
1 Joe Hart – 6/10
Had little to do and could hardly be held accountable for Bournemouth’s deflected goal. A comfortable afternoon is probably the ideal preparation for what is likely to be another busy Champions League night for City’s stopper on Tuesday.
5 Pablo Zabaleta – 7/10
Had a decent game in only his second appearance of the season at club level and had a hand (or should I say, a head) in the opening goal. Many expected Zabaleta to be moved over to the left to cover Kolarov’s absence but despite the emergence of Bacary Sagna this season, the Argentine is still the best right-back on City’s books and that’s where he should stay.
30 Nicolás Otamendi – 5/10
Was fortunate not to concede a penalty just before City’s opener and again looked extremely wobbly throughout. Maintaining patience with Otamendi is going to be very important and it could be a little while before we begin to see the sort of form which made him La Liga’s best defender last season, but at the moment he’s the obvious candidate to make way for Vincent Kompany’s return either in mid-week or next weekend.
20 Eliaquim Mangala – 6/10
Not for the first time this season he allowed an opposing striker far too much space in which to shoot and was at fault for the resulting goal, but the Frenchman otherwise looked reasonably solid against Bournemouth. His good form at the start of the season could perhaps be partly attributed to having had Vincent Kompany alongside him and we should therefore hopefully see an improved Mangala when the Belgian returns.
3 Bacary Sagna – 7/10
Showed us that he’s not only a very good right-back but also a versatile player and not a bad left-back either. Sagna has been one of the success stories of City’s season so far and hopefully he can maintain his consistency in a slightly unfamiliar position in the bigger games coming up.
25 Fernandinho – 7/10
Another quality midfield performance from the Brazilian with his superb cross-field pass in the build-up to the opening goal being one of the highlights of the match. Many fans worried before kick-off that he’d pick up his fifth booking of the season against Bournemouth and miss the Manchester derby next weekend but thankfully he came through the 90 minutes unscathed. There’s a strong case to be made that Fernandinho has been City’s most consistent performer so far this season. What’s unquestionably certain is that we’ll miss him when he’s not around.
42 Yaya Toure – 7/10
Looked lively on his return to action and controlled the midfield during the first 45 minutes. Was rather strangely withdrawn at half-time in order to be rested for the upcoming matches. Whatever keeps him fit and fresh is fine by me.
15 Jesus Navas – 7/10
Put in another fine performance down the right-hand-side which was only marred by the fact he failed to score with the goal gaping for the second time this season. His work-rate and defensive contribution is always appreciated, but imagine how good he’d be if only he had a bit more confidence and a lot more cutting edge in front of goal?
7 Raheem Sterling – 8/10
After he was substituted at half-time of City’s last match against Newcastle, I wrote at some length regarding my frustration with Sterling’s ineffectual performances of late. A first professional hat-trick for the 20-year-old in the first half of this match was the perfect reminder of just what he’s capable of and will hopefully do wonders for his confidence in the coming weeks. His second goal was particularly good as a double-feint left two Bournemouth defenders trailing in his wake before he slotted confidently past the goalkeeper. His overall performance still leaves room for improvement but this was without doubt a huge stride in the right direction.
17 Kevin De Bruyne – 8/10
This guy is one hell of a player, isn’t he? The defence-shredding through ball for City’s third goal along with the second-half shot which Bournemouth’s keeper could only tip onto the bar were just two highlights from a near-perfect 62 minutes from the Belgian. It’s always nice to see a player leave the field having done exactly what’s expected of them, even if De Bruyne’s departure was thought to be related to a slight knee injury. Let’s hope and pray it’s nothing serious, because this vein of form is rich indeed.
14 Wilfried Bony – 7/10
You could hardly blame Bony if, when the news filtered through of Sergio Agüero’s injury last week, he allowed himself a quiet moment of celebration. The Ivorian is without doubt a quality striker but it hasn’t really happened for him in a blue shirt thus far and the thought of him leading the line for City on current form has caused a great deal of anxiety during the past week. What he desperately needed was goals, however, and against Bournemouth he got two of them, along with an assist. We can only hope this new found confidence in front of goal, coupled with the opportunities afforded to him by Agüero’s injury will kick-start Bony’s City career, because we really need it to happen now more than ever.
6 Fernando – 6/10
Came on at half-time with the game more-or-less won and kept things neat and tidy without having much of an influence on the match, unless you blame him for single-handedly sucking the life out of it in the second-half, which I do (just kidding).
8 Samir Nasri – Came on too late to mark
Made his return from injury in the last half an hour of this one but wasn’t overly influential in a match which was by that stage sleepwalking towards the finish line. Nasri could have a big role to play for City in David Silva’s absence. As always, it’s up to him.
72 Kelechi Iheanacho – Came on too late to mark
Was denied a perfectly good goal (and it was perfectly good in a literal sense) by the linesman’s flag when he was yards onside. Like Bony, Agüero’s absence should open up plenty of opportunities to Kelechi in the next few weeks and you can bet he’s relishing the prospect of more game-time.
Written by Dan Burke