Published on September 14th, 2015 | by Daniel Cheeseman0
Crystal Palace 0-1 Manchester City | Daniel Cheeseman
“Cometh the youngster!”
After a well-fought 90 minutes against Crystal Palace on Saturday, the Blues needed someone to step up to the plate in order to maintain their record-breaking win streak, and that person came in the form of 18-year old Kelechi Iheanacho.
With all the great signings City have made this summer and in the past few seasons, it’s been a lot harder for academy players to break into the first team, and even in the rare cases when they do it hasn’t usually worked out well because of their lack of experience playing at this level. Unfortunately, with the rate that this club wants to progress and expectations at an all-time high, it’s seen as a huge risk to play untested youngsters in the first team, but every now and then someone gets a chance and takes it – and I’m so glad that the Nigerian did just that at the weekend.
I must admit, when I saw the starting line-up against Palace I wasn’t feeling too confident. First of all it was 4-4-2 (a formation which I feel wastes Aguero’s potential, as he players better on his own up top) and secondly both David Silva AND Raheem Sterling were absent – so things weren’t looking good. In my personal opinion we’d have been much better starting off in the 4-2-3-1 formation (which we’ve used the most this season) with Kevin de Bruyne playing in the central role just behind Aguero and Nasri / Navas on the flanks, leaving Wilfried Bony on the bench as a great alternative in an emergency.
Although I do think that Bony did a good job of holding up play on Saturday, for me he was the only one who didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the team. When you watch him play it’s not hard to notice that he’s very immobile – which doesn’t give great passers such as Kevin de Bruyne and Yaya Toure very much to work with, and the fact that he’s not the quickest on his feet means that he often finds it hard to keep up with the tempo of the game – and when you’re playing at Selhurst Park the one thing you need is pace.
After reviewing the winning goal on Match of the Day, I honestly don’t think Wilfried would have scored what turned out to be the winning goal by Kelechi Iheanacho – as the Nigerian had to be very alert and quick on his feet to dispatch Samir Nasri’s deflected shot – two traits which you don’t really associate with the Ivorian. Saying that, I can’t deny that in other scenarios and games Bony would be the better choice because of his different style of play and physical advantages over defenders – so please don’t think that this is just a straight attack on him! 😉
I’ve got to say that I thought Kevin de Bruyne had a great debut – his pass to Navas was sublime and deserved a much better finish, he showed on several other occasions why he was so highly rated at Wolfsburg last season. I’m sure that he’ll fit in even better once Sterling, Silva and Aguero are back in the team – so for now we’ll just have to wait with baited breath until that moment arrives!
The only real negative to come out Saturday’s game was seeing Sergio Aguero subbed off after a reckless challenge by Palace’s Scott Dann, especially considering we have another match against Juventus tomorrow evening. After Manuel Pellegrini’s comments in the press conference today I don’t expect him to start against West Ham on Saturday either, so I think the best thing we can hope for is that he’ll be available as an emergency sub if things get sticky against the Hammers – but I wouldn’t blame the Chilean for not wanting to risk him even then.
All that’s left to say now is that I’m really looking forward to seeing Champions League football once again at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow night – even though I’m slightly worried that Fernandinho and Samir Nasri might be unavailable due to minor injuries like Aguero is, I’m sure that it’ll be a very enjoyable game regardless!