Manchester City ran out 1-4 winners against Stoke City. It would seem like Pep Guardiola CAN do it against Stoke after all. Point to note is that the first 2 goals for City came through Aguero and that too by set-pieces. Then followed a penalty for Stoke and deep into the match as Stoke started to tire, Pep’s signings made the difference as Nolito grabbed a brace to register a relatively comfortable win.
Here’s how the players performed.
Wilfredo Caballero – 6.5/10
It seems like Joe Hart will be on his way out as Caballero cements his first team place (until ‘someone’ comes). Looked more and more assured as the game went on and made a quick reflex save from a Phil Bardsley shot in the first half.
Pablo Zabaleta – 7/10
He started off the game by being a bit dodgy with Arnautovic running in behind him but dealt with his threat well and did his job. Passed a beautiful ball onto Sterling, which led to the 4th goal for Manchester City.
Nicolas Otamendi – 7.5/10
He isn’t the typical Pep defender but is certainly a decent Premier League defender who dealt with the aerial threat of Diouf and Arnautovic well and was there to help his fellow defenders whenever needed.
John Stones – 7/10
John Stones seems destined to become a very good ball playing defender who ended up with 93% passing success rate and with his partner, marshaled Diouf’s threat well along with a good block on his shot in the first half.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 5.5/10
He was his usual self with decent quick forward passes but seemed to usually get caught out from time to time with Bojan constantly moving around him. Lucky not to give away a penalty for a foul on Joe Allen.
Fernandinho – 7.5/10
He is doing his “Pep’s favourite midfielder” part perfectly till now. Slotted right in between the two centre-backs when building attacks and played some beautiful through balls for his mobile forwards to latch onto. He made good tackles to cap off a good performance.
Jesus Navas – 5.5/10
As often is the case with Navas, he had the beating of his opponent in Pieters but made no successful crosses throughout the match as Aguero waited for a ball to cap off his hat-trick. Was substituted in the 69th minute.
Kevin de Bruyne – 7/10
He was ever present to receive the ball and try and build up quick passes with his attacking compatriots. But apart from his pin-point delivery for Aguero’s second goal of the game, he lacked a bit of cutting edge going forward. Still, did enough to merit his rating as the game became slow in the second half.
David Silva – 7.5/10
A lot of fans wrote him off last season, but he is back and is again dictating the play. What’s more surprising is his willingness to run and close down from the top which resulted in some quick transitions in play. His most notable pass would be the one to Kelechi which set him up for a 1v1 with Shay Given and led to Nolito’s first goal of the game in the 83rd minute.
Raheem Sterling – 7/10
He drifted in and out of the game. He was City’s brightest player in the beginning and has found new life under Pep’s system. He shot just above the crossbar in the beginning and then faded as the match went on. Sterling collected Zabaleta’s pass with ease and unselfishly played in Nolito in the 95th minute for him to score his second.
Sergio Aguero – 8.5/10
Aguero does what Aguero does best – score goals. After 2 penalty misses, he scored his penalty and then added another with a header against two taller centre-backs. He leads the line well and is the perfect striker for Guardiola’s system which requires his forwards to run behind and create space.
Nolito – 7.5/10
Nolito was substituted into the game in the 69th minute and while he didn’t do much to make the plays, he was there to finish off two good moves by his teammates. Both the times he followed his instinct and was available for Kelechi and then Sterling to square the ball to him which led to his two goals.
Kelechi Iheanacho – 7/10
He always makes an impact every time he is brought onto the pitch. Same was the case this time as he assisted Nolito’s first goal and caused Shawcross and Wollscheid all kinds of problems which his persistence and movement.
Fabian Delph – NA
Came into the game in the 88th minute but wasn’t involved in any of the game to merit a rating.