Written by kirsikka
It was a second-string Manchester City but a long way from an academy team when you look at the players on the pitch. In contrast to the Crystal Palace game, even given all the changes, there was a bit more life in this match and I think it’s fair to draw a few more genuine conclusions from it.
They dominated possession but it appeared we had tactically decided to cede it to them and play purely on the break. That seems a reasonable approach to take given the opposition and the fact we also rotated the team so had a mixed bunch on the pitch. I’ll be honest, I think it was the most comfortable we’ve looked against City in the games we’ve played against them in recent times. Yes, they scored two but the second of those was a scuffed shot that bounced over the keeper who was getting up from a dive.
A nod to Jason Tindall as the tactics worked. No way did Pep want to bring on Sterling or De Bruyne tonight but both were called for as he tried to unlock the resolute and disciplined defending and disrupt the way we held our the shape. I also think it was telling that Rico came off after 60 minutes and Brooks after about 80 irrespective to how they were playing. They felt like preplanned subs with Sunday in mind, getting more minutes into those legs. Our priority was not tonight and the prospect of a glamour tie away to Burnley next week didn’t change those plans.
At times it was a bit like a football training exercise ‘Attack against Defence’ but despite the scoreline, given the relative quality on the teams, I think the defence came out on top. We could have got a morale busting shoeing tonight. Instead, we can walk away with our heads held high saying we made them look pretty ordinary.
I don’t think we’ll see that tactical setup much against Championship teams but if we go down to ten men and need to hold onto a lead then it could be useful. I guess it’s good to know we looked more solid than in previous seasons.
I thought Ofoborh was outstanding. Lots of brilliant interceptions, comfortable on the ball and looks a real player. Against some top-notch players, he looked perfectly at home. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of him this season.
Brooks finally started to look like the player of old. Deft touches, good vision and unlucky not to assist a second goal for us. Now he needs to do it in a game where we aren’t playing solely on the break into space. Bring on Sunday.
Surridge took his goal well but probably should have finished one of the other chances in the second half. It’s a real positive though that in almost every appearance he seems to get into those positions. Even if another striker does come in I think he’s going to be an important part of the squad this season.
Travers made a couple of good saves in the first half, had no chance with the first goal and was very unlucky with the second. It looked a hefty blow that he took from Delap (the spirit of Stoke City is strong in that one) and let’s hope it doesn’t make him hesitant to come for balls in his next appearance. I’m still none the wise who our first choice keeper is.
Man of the Match against Man City?
Re the keeper, it has to be Travers if fit. I thought he looked very nervy for the first 40 minutes or so but then he seemed to just settle into the game and started behaving more naturally. A sign if ever one were needed, that all he needs to become a reliable keeper is a decent run in the team without any confidence destroying howlers.
I feel sure that if he can get a few decent performances under his belt we’ll see him go from strength to strength. – Join the conversation, click here.