The City way. Putting themselves in a tough spot and clawing back heroically is exactly what City love to do.
Horrific defending was again on show in the early minutes of the game, along with some wasteful finishing at the other end. It could have been one of those days, but the lads did not roll over, fighting back against a top opponent to grab a crucial three points and a result that will give everyone a huge amount of confidence. Credit to Pep for his half-time tweaks which gave us the edge for the win.
Here’s how I rated the boys on the day.
1 Claudio Bravo – 6/10
A no nonsense display from him. Didn’t overplay out from the back, punched the ball away when the cross came in for Giroud.
5 Pablo Zabaleta – 6/10
I know he’s our hero but he was playing his 3rd game in the space of seven days and had a tough time trying to cope with the pace of Sanchez and Iwobi. Came off injured at half-time and could be missing for a while.
30 Nicolas Otamendi – 7/10
His positioning for the opener was woeful but he stuck in after that and defended resolutely. Has to stop himself from diving in at the wrong time as he got a yellow card for that today. Played very positively in the first half and I hope under Pep he can improve his mindset as he has the raw potential to be the perfect partner to Stones in our defence.
11 Aleksandar Kolarov – 7/10
Astonishingly part of a stable central defence. Passed well despite a bit of Arsenal’s pressing but I really prefer him on the left. Didn’t allow attackers to get goalside of him which is really important.
22 Gael Clichy – 7/10
His pace was an asset today in a game that was quite spread out in the second half. I was really happy to see him win quite a lot of the one-on-ones and didn’t allow Arsenal’s players to get past him with ease.
6 Fernando – 9/10
He really has upped his game to step up in the absence of his compatriot Fernandinho and will be really crucial to the season now with Gundogan out for so long. Looked really confident on the ball, won almost all his tackles in the second half and tried to get the team forward at every opportunity.
19 Leroy Sané – 8/10
What a time for him to get his first goal for the club. Could have gotten one more but failed to take his chance on that occasion, showcasing that he’s still very raw. Will only get better with time and his pace caused Arsenal problems throughout the second half. Will be a star.
42 Yaya Toure – 8/10
I remember a month back people were wondering if he really does still have a place in the City team. City have won all four games with him in the starting line up since his return and he’s absolutely essential to the team. He’s fluent in Pep’s way of football and you can see him helping out the youngsters on the pitch. Brilliant at keeping possession and redistributing the ball.
21 David Silva – 9/10
The chip for Sane’s goal was exquisite and last time I said that everything in this team goes through him and he proved that again today. He was also excellent in winning possession back and he really played like a captain in the second half after Zaba went off. Very positive, very accurate.
17 Kevin De Bruyne – 8/10
He’s excellent even when he’s not at his best. His quality shines through every time he touches the ball. He produced an excellent cross just after Walcott’s goal that should have been put in by Sterling and his diagonal cross-field pass from which Sterling scored the winner was one of the best you’ll see this season and got him his 9th assist, putting him three clear of anyone else in the league. Needs to show more hunger for goals however as he sometimes chooses a sideways or backward pass instead of opting to beat his man.
— Ben Carney (@benjaamin) 18 December 2016
7 Raheem Sterling – 8/10
Struggled in the false 9 role given to him initially but after switching out to the flank in the second half he was a constant menace for Arsenal and he looked really confident and showed a great attitude in getting up and down the pitch to get more involved. Is turning up in the big games this season and it’s hard to believe he’s still only 22.
3 Bacary Sagna – 7/10
Steadied the defence after coming on after the half-time break and was a good option to widen play when City were dominating the ball around Arsenal’s box.
15 Jesus Navas – 6/10
Showed a good work rate and his cross was turned onto the post by De Bruyne. Does well to get back and support his full back.
72 Kelechi Iheanacho – Came on too late to mark
Was sent on by Pep to hold up the ball in the corners showing a new tactical tweak with pragmatism to close out the game.
Written by Manan Monga
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