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Manchester City 1-0 Sheffield United โ€“ Player ratings as City strengthen grip on the top spot

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City's Gabriel Jesus (C) in action against the Blades
ANALYST
Modified 31 Jan 2021
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A solitary Gabriel Jesus goal nine minutes into the game, followed by a clinical performance was enough for Manchester City to see off bottom-placed Sheffield United.

The narrow win ensured that Manchester City stay in pole position for the second weekend running in a rather topsy-turvy title race.

Following their huge scalp against the other Manchester club just a couple of days back, the visitors went in with four changes. The hero at the back last time out, league veteran Phil Jagielka, was among the notable absentees.

Blades' manager Chris Wilder went for a largely defensive 5-3-2 formation in hope of countering the hosts' dynamic attack.

Pep Guardiola too didn't hesitate to ring in the changes with five players from the 5-0 rout at West Brom making way.

Aymeric Laporte partnered Ruben Dias in the heart of defence as the gaffer finally seemed to get his first-choice center-back pairing to start a game.

What followed post kick-off was largely along expected lines, as Man City asserted their dominance from the word go. And it didn't take long for the lop-sided match-up to give way as the hosts found the net within ten minutes.

A loopy ball behind Blades' young defender Ethan Ampadu, followed by a turn, scramble and low cross from City winger Ferran Torres was met by a cool first touch and finish from Gabriel Jesus.

Manchester City's lack of a cutting edge was on display in the rest of the half. Sheffield gladly took the one-goal deficit heading into the tunnel.

Moreover, Kevin de Bruyne's absence was clearly felt as Guardiola's men struggled to make merry of the half-chances that came their way.

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The second half was pretty much a carbon copy of the first. Sheffield United only got a proper sniff at goal in the 85th minute.

The hosts were denied some obvious penalties, continuously being fouled by the visiting defence out of desperation.

But the former champions kept their cool and played to their strengths by running the opposition ragged in midfield.

The visitors were largely left chasing shadows as City claimed a 12th successive win in all competitions.

Let's take a look at how the Sky Blues fared on a scale of one to ten.

Manchester City Player Ratings

Ederson - 7/10

City's No. 31 barely had to do anything against a Sheffield United side which registered just the one tame shot on target. Another clean sheet in the bag though, an achievement to cherish.

Kyle Walker - 6/10

The fullback paced up and down the right flank, but didn't use his usual bursts of speed with the ball to great effect, instead opting to send in crosses from afar. Not the wisest choice in the absence of a proper target man in the box.

Ruben Dias - 7/10

Another consistent showing from the Portuguese center-half, who was the more reserved of the two. Closed down the attackers well to restrict their shots on goal to feeble long-rangers. Assertive in the air, especially during corners at both ends of the park.

Aymeric Laporte - 7.5/10

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Had the liberty to roam freely and did so marvelously with his timed runs into the box. In doing so, found a couple of free headers too, which could have been dealt better with in hindsight. Did all right with his defensive duties too, marking a good return from an injury lay off.

Oleksandir Zinchenko - 8/10

An excellent game for the Ukranian. Combined well with Foden to cause havoc on the left flank. Drifted centrally when needed, made decisive passes from out wide too. Even took some stinging shots on goal when called upon, only for the opposition shot-stopper to respond with some fine saves.

Bernardo Silva - 7/10

A better performance from the Sky Blues' No. 20 amidst a slight slump in form. A solo run in the second half was a major highlight. Lacked end product, but Guardiola would certainly be pleased with a marked improvement.

Fernandinho - 7.5/10

The absolute boss in the heart of midfield. The Brazilian was privy to a large chunk of City's mammoth 798 passes as they boasted three-fourths of the total ball possession. Read the game situation well to not let any slip-ups take place in the dying moments of the match.

Ilkay Gundogan - 7/10

The German medio worked his socks off. Again, combined excellently with Fernandinho to help his side hog the possession stats. Looked a little out of position on the left, should be reinstated in the double pivot to get the best out of him.

Ferran Torres - 7.5/10

Crafted the assist for Jesus' goal with a resolute solo-effort. Kept making crosses and forays into the box from the right throughout. Gave a good account of himself on return from injury.

Gabriel Jesus - 8/10

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Scored the only goal of the game. Credit goes to his presence of mind in the box while crafting space to find the net. Could have had a few more to his name, only to be let down by some poor finishing and bad luck. Guardiola would hope he is consistent week-in week-out as he gears up for yet another grueling title race.

Phil Foden - 7/10

Another solid outing from the Englishman. His consistency has been a key factor in cementing his place in the starting XI. Showed his abilities on the ball with some good skills and crosses. Was closed down fairly well though as he was unable to find space to cut inside and take a shot on goal, something the youngster needs to be vary of.

Published 31 Jan 2021, 08:33 IST
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