Instead of writing my usual match report, I thought that I would offer my opinions of Manchester City of late. The 2-0 home victory against in-form Aston Villa was a superb if not surprising result. Given the inconsistency of City lately the result was a welcome tonic and provided City with a much-needed three points. Shaun Wright-Phillips was man of the match-a much-deserved award as he produced an inspired display of influential football. He provided City with both the width and creativity that had been lacking for them against West Ham.
The controversial figure that is Elano put in an impressive performance. His penalty was buried deep into the net and he was unlucky not to get a second later in the second half. Yes he is very temperamental and hot-headed, it’s clear to see that he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Mark Hughes, but he is a nifty player to have. He’s a talent that is capable of producing moments of subliminal skill, despite his inconsistency.
I have been so impressed with both Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta. The pair conduct their business seemingly unnoticed, but they have been crucial additions to City’s squad. Zabaleta was a revelation in midfield against Wigan at home, and he continued to provide the grit and tenacity that City have needed to balance out the flair of other players. Kompany in my opinion, should be City’s captain. Like Zabaleta, he’s a flexible player in terms of whether he is playing in defence or midfield, I prefer him in defence. These two keep their heads down and put in consistent, impressive performances on a regular basis.
Stephen Ireland has had his best season to date at City. Although he has been slightly off the boil recently, it is fair to say he has played a key role in City’s matches and has warranted being in the position of being one of the first names Hughes will put onto his team-sheet. He is capable of creating something out of nothing and some of the goals he has scored this season have been captivating (anybody remember his goals against Hull at the KC stadium?). He’s a dedicated play-maker who has proved that with overcoming difficulties and working hard you can be successful. Other players would do well to take a leaf out of Ireland’s book.
City’s hopes of silverware this season have come in the form of the UEFA Cup. A home tie against Aalborg on Thursday will be tricky and City will be looking to go into the second leg in Denmark with the advantage. So far though, the side’s performances in the UEFA Cup has overall been quite inspired, particularly the 2-0 victory against Schalke. Progression to the quarter-finals is well and truly there for the taking.
Realistically, achieving 7th spot in the Premier League is within City’s grasp. However the away form of the Eastlands outfit has been appalling and City still have to play the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United on their travels. Home games against Sunderland, Fulham, West Brom, Blackburn Rovers and Bolton will be crucial in increasing City’s points tally and improving on last season’s 9th position finish.