Manchester City vs. Sunderland: 6 Things We Learned from Etihad Encounter
Roberto Mancini’s men started slow, but a 3-0 victory tells us that the Citizens eventually got into their groove, while Sunderland suffered slightly in their first loss of the season.
As is the case in any fixture, the aftermath presents us with a variety of talking points, and both sides have undoubtedly taken things away from that result.
Manchester City Better without Kompany?
Of course this isn’t true and in no way serious, but it’s ironic that Manchester City’s first clean sheet of the Premier League campaign came in the absence of their captain and defensive leader, Vincent Kompany.
Micah Richards returned from injury to partner Joleon Lescott in central defence, while Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolorov occupied the full-back positions.
Considering Sunderland were unbeaten so far this season and Steven Fletcher was in fine scoring form, restraining the Black Cats completely was no small feat for City.
With Kompany coming back from injury in the coming weeks, the Premier League title holders will only be stronger and thus, more clean sheets may indeed be on the way.
One result can sometimes be enough to turn a season around, and City will be hoping that the defensively astute performance against Sunderland will be the first of many in the coming months.
Fletcher Is Fallible
After netting five goals in his first four matches as a Black Cat, it was inevitable that Steven Fletcher would slip up at some point.
When it emerged that the Scotsman had completed his move to the Premier League, although it was a significant signing, one wouldn’t have been judged harshly for being sceptical about whether or not the former Wolves striker had earned such a value.
City were the first Premier League side to stop Fletcher from scoring when he featured in the English top flight, and the match at the Etihad showed us that he is human after all.
Pretty much all of Sunderland’s scoring hopes this season will be pinned directly on “Fletch,” with Fraizer Campbell and Louis Saha providing backup.
For Martin O’Neill’s side to succeed, Martin O’Neill needs the clinical 25-year-old to lap up anything he is served, and the City fixture was the first time the forward was completely ineffective.
Manchester City Are Learning
A vital part of any elite side is the ability to learn from one’s mistakes instead of just having the talent necessary to bring about success.
Last season, Sunderland were the only Premier League side that City didn’t beat in one fixture or another, so to break that trend shows growth in Roberto Mancini’s side.
It’s all well and good making mistakes, as any team will do, as long as the one committing those mistakes learns from them.
City are almost like a slumbering, mechanical being developing artificial intelligence, and it may only be a matter of time before every other team falls victim.
As part of the amassing Belgian contingent in the English top flight, it’s no surprise that Simon Mignolet is a fantastic ‘keeper, and he performed admirably against City.
Now, that may sound strange considering the stopper conceded three goals against Manchester City, but there were certainly positives in the display.
In goalkeeping terms, 24 is incredibly young for a starting player, never mind for a Premier League outfit. Mignolet stepped in to take the place of Craig Gordon several years ago and has only improved since then.
Against City, Mignolet proceeded to keep his side in the match, and the Black Cats can thank themselves lucky that they didn’t lose by more than three goals.
The Belgian international is consistently impressive in his shot-stopping abilities, leading Martin O’Neill to refer to his No.1 as the best goalkeeper in the world (via Telegraph).
Kolarov Is King
With the vast resources at Manchester City’s disposal, it’s only natural that they’re spending exploits lead to competition for places within the squad.
One of the hottest competitions to emerge in recent seasons is the battle at left-back that sees Aleksandar Kolarov struggling against Gael Clichy for a starting spot.
Possibly Kolarov’s biggest strength, the Serb used that sublime left foot of his to open the scoring with a powered free kick against Sunderland.
Kolarov then went on to cross in for Sergio Aguero to score before winning the free-kick that settled the 3-0 victory.
In short, Kolarov had a hand in every goal scored by the winners and one could argue that it’s actually an injustice to call him a defender on his day.
Clichy is no small talent by any means, and the fact that Kolarov is currently winning the fight between the two speaks volumes.
Saturday was but the latest example of the attacking prowess that Kolarov holds, where the left-back contributed with a Man of the Match showing.
Citizens' Resources Run Deep
As was touched upon in the last slide, City’s expenditure in recent seasons has provided them with a vastly talented squad filled to the brim with superstar names.
This means that the club are more than able to rest players when needed and have the means to survive through injuries as well.
Javi Garcia picked up a knock in midweek and was replaced by the recovered Gareth Barry. Micah Richards filled in for the absent Vincent Kompany. Euro 2012 hero Mario Balotelli started in the place of Sergio Aguero.
The fact that Roberto Mancini can afford to leave a player like Aguero on the bench is staggering and while it may not be fresh news as such, the 3-0 thumping of Sunderland was but the latest testament of City’s strength in depth.
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