It was a game of fine margins in every sense of the word as Manchester City lost in a close-fought quarter final first leg away to Tottenham at the new White Hart Lane. Whethere through contentious decisions, missed penalties or the whisker of a ball staying in play, Pep Guardiola’s side will be well and truly scrathing their heads as to how they didn’t manage to salvage some sort of result tonight.
Here’s how we rated the players:
Ederson – 7
Far more active then in recent weeks, Ederson gave a good account of himself in north London. He was unlucky to be caught out for the goal, though the blame can be firmly pinned on his defender. Outside of that, I was quite impressed with his quality distribution and composed collection in the air given the scale of the occasion.
Kyle Walker – 5
A thoroughly indifferent night for Walker tonight, and not for the first time. As became more and more evident throughout the match, City played a uncharacteristically defensive game against Spurs, meaning that Walker was unable to utilise his devastating pace on the overlap. Left with marking Eriksen and Danny Rose on the overlap, the Englishman showed why the words ‘attacking full back’ can often be a warning sign when it comes to games such as these, being caught unawares on a fair few occasions.
Nicolas Otamendi – 7
A battling display from the General, and one that I feel the Argentinian was unlucky to be quite so scrutinised for. Perhaps in the aftermath of the penalty decision, it didn’t seem as if Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers was keen to award many 50/50 duels in City’s favour, with Otamendi’s challenges some of the most culpable. That said, Nico escaped without a yellow card, leaving him free to play the next leg if needed. In light of Spurs’ aggression, he had that necessary bit of tenacity.
Aymeric Laporte – 7
Silly to get himself a yellow (seemingly for protesting the linesman) in the first half, but an otherwise typically accomplished display from Laporte. It bears saying that the backline do not deserve to be criticised as a whole on account of one man’s fallibility, as I thought Laporte, Otamendi and Walker did a good job on average. Laporte couldn’t quite find his usual raking passes due to the condensed formation tonight, but he battled well and made sure to win his duels with little fuss.
Fabian Delph – 3
Let’s get two things clear. Firstly, Fabian Delph is not of the standards that Manchester City require or expect. Secondly, I’m bumping him up to a 3 because I don’t expect anything else at this point. As we mentioned, this game could have swung either way building into the last quarter of normal time.
That is at least, until Fabian Delph happened. Stay with your man and your position, Fabian. Don’t stray into the middle, Fabian. Dont’ let Son have time on the ball because you’re nowhere near him, Fabian. Don’t stop playing because you think it’s gone out, Fabian. Just go, Fabian. No, you can’t have visitation rights, Fabian.
Fernandinho – 6
Given that he and Ilkay Gündogan sat in a midfield two, it seemed like Fernandinho was a bit confused by whether to hurl the player up in the air or thump the ball up the pitch tonight. Yes, I understand that Pep probably played both men deeper to add the extra defensive cover, but it just felt as if neither really committed to the cause, with the Brazilian particularly appearing far less destructive than usual. He had the ability to bring the ball forward and to sit comfortably, yet was thoroughly in two minds throughout.
Ilkay Gündogan – 8 (Man of the Match)
As this is a meritocracy, I’m not ashamed to admit that Ilkay earns my Man of the Match award purely on the basis that he was slightly more composed than everyone else. Really, it was that sort of performance. No one (bar Delph) did anything especially terrible, it’s just that Gündogan, persistently calm in possession and able to keep the ball under high pressure, did more good than anyone else. He was crying to be moved furhter forward even before Son’s goal. What if…
David Silva – 5
Bear with me, for I’m about to type some painful words. David Silva was one of City’s worst players. It seems incompatible with our very reality, I know, but it was unfortunately a poor showing from Dave tonight and most painfully, it wasn’t the first in recent weeks. El Mago has been far from his magical self since his injury lay-off in December, and time would seem to be running out for him to make a meaningful impact in this latter part of the season. I might be being a tad harsh here given the lack of passes forward, but in a formation that relies heavily on the precision of the primary attacking midfielder, Silva just wasn’t able to provide what the team sorely needed.
Riyad Mahrez – 6
For the record, I have had my fair share of doubts about Riyad Mahrez. Some of you may have had yours emboldened after tonight’s game. It’s true – the Algerian hardly set London on fire, and his creation was under-par. But in the context of the match, I felt Riyad could leave the field feeling proud of himself. Whilst some may have been crying out for Leroy to have started, the gameplan required a more industrious attitude on the wings and Riyad was more than happy to do the hard yards, similar to how he was deployed against Spurs at Wembley in the autumn.
Sergio Agüero – 5
What else can you say for a man who misses a potentially decisive penalty in a Champions League quarter final? Whilst the circumstances surrounding the referee’s decision can be argued and slo-mo’d and Twitter poll’d to the high heavens, there can be no debate. If you’re given a penalty early in the game in a tough away fixture, you bury it. Unable to do so, Sergio was left both without the ball and without his confidence, unable to affect the game in defence and snatching at his shots when the ball came to him.
Raheem Sterling – 6.5
City’s danger man in the final third, Raheem was the only player who was committed to making things happen on the ball in Tottenham’s half. His shot forcing the penalty, he tried his hardest to wrench the game in City’s favour when he could, but found himself either defending his own box or running into space without any support. He did both to the best of his abilites, mind you, earning him a slight boost here.
Gabriel Jesus – 6
Changed the pace of the game simply by having more legs than Sergio, but unable to stay onside long enough to fashion a real chance. The story of his recent endeavours at City, in all honesty.
Kevin De Bruyne – N/A
No time to mark.
Leroy Sané – N/A
No time to mark.
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