Manchester City vs. West Brom: Winners and Losers from Premier League
Manchester City maintained its top-four place and warmed up for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg on Tuesday against Paris Saint-Germain with a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday in the Premier League.
Stephane Sessegnon fired West Brom ahead in the sixth minute. But Sergio Aguero equalized 13 minutes later, and Samir Nasri—making his return from injury after nearly seven mounts out—notched the winner midway through the second half.
It wasn't all good news for City, though, as Aguero limped off with an apparent injury late in the second half.
With the win, City moved four points clear of Manchester United for fourth place and closed the gap on Arsenal to two points. West Brom fell to 13th, behind Swansea City on goals scored.
Here, Bleacher Report selects winners and losers from the match.
Winner: Samir Nasri
Before Saturday, Samir Nasri's most recent start for Manchester City was on Sept. 15—or just short of seven months ago. Following a nightmarish ordeal with injuries, Nasri finally returned and turned in a man-of-the-match performance.
From the start, Nasri was a bright spot for City as he showed an eagerness to get on the ball and make things happen in the attacking third. The Frenchman consistently served as the likeliest of creative outlets as the hosts labored for so long to score the go-ahead goal.
Then, he scored it himself, following the play alertly and sweeping home from Sergio Aguero's pass. At full time his stats read as follows, per Squawka Football: 100 percent tackles won, 95 percent pass accuracy, six crosses, three shots and three chances created.
What better way to mark your return to the starting lineup?
"It was great to be back and to score the winning goal, especially after the result of Arsenal and West Ham," Nasri told Sky Sports (h/t BBC Sport's Phil Cartwright). "It has been more than five months since I have been out, so I can't explain how happy I am. It is the best thing to do before we play Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League next week."
Loser: Wilfried Bony
Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini could take several positives from this match, as we'll see in a later slide. But one negative was the showing of Wilfried Bony, who failed to make an impact up top.
Starting alongside Sergio Aguero, the Ivorian should have seen this as a good opportunity to put his name on the scoresheet and impress either incoming manager Pep Guardiola or some future employer. Unfortunately, he was rather anonymous throughout his hour on the pitch, taking just 23 touches (his replacement, Kevin De Bruyne, took just one fewer in half the time) and failing to complete a single key pass, per WhoScored.com.
Bony possesses the tools to be a success at the Premier League level, as his time with Swansea showed, but he doesn't appear to have much of a future with Manchester City.
Winner: Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero limped off the pitch with an apparent injury late in the second half, but before that, he scored an important goal from the penalty spot to draw Manchester City level.
The Argentine couldn't have taken his spot kick any better either. West Brom stopper Ben Foster guessed correctly, diving to his left, but Aguero placed his shot perfectly and struck the ball with so much power that Foster had no chance to save.
It was Aguero's 11th Premier League goal of 2016. Only Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane has scored as many.
Loser: Joe Hart
Joe Hart didn't necessarily have an awful day in goal for City, but he did make a costly mistake.
In the sixth minute, Stephane Sessegnon latched on to a cross on the right side of the box and took aim for Hart's near post. The shot from just inside the area flew through Aleksandar Kolarov's legs and caught Hart off guard.
Although Hart might have been unsighted, he should have saved the shot from that range. Being beaten at the near post is never something a goalkeeper likes to see, and as the Guardian's Jamie Jackson noted on Twitter, there might be long-term repercussions for Hart.
"Hart beaten at near post—not great, Guardiola, who wants (Marc-Andre) Ter Stegen, bound to take note," Jackson tweeted.
That might sound harsh, but if Guardiola is considering his options, this error won't have persuaded him against dipping into the market for a new goalkeeper.
Winner: Manuel Pellegrini
Seeing Aguero walk off the field in pain must have caused some concern, but overall this was a good day for Manuel Pellegrini.
Keeping an eye on Tuesday's Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Paris Saint-Germain, the Chilean was able to make five changes to his squad for West Brom's visit to the Etihad. That meant Kevin De Bruyne, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Fernandinho were able to rest—though some got more than others.
And with an eye on the league, Pellegrini selected a strong enough side to see off the stubborn Baggies in tough conditions. With the victory, City knows it will stay ahead of rivals Manchester United in fourth place for at least another week. If the Sky Blues can't win the Champions League this spring, it is imperative to qualify once again through their league position.
All in all, then, job done.
"It is a very important result because Arsenal and West Ham drew today," Pellegrini told Sky Sports (h/t BBC Sport's Phil Cartwright). "We knew it would be a difficult game; West Brom are not fighting for anything. Starting 1-0 behind was difficult."