Wednesday’s FA Cup replay was the complete opposite to the original tie at the John Smiths Stadium, there was pace, energy and thankfully, a fair number of goals.
Guardiola took no chances with his line up, the front three of Agüero, Sané and Sterling with De Bruyne playing behind was a sign that Pep wanted to get the game won early. However, Huddersfield gave City a scare by taking the lead early on from their first shot on goal. Harry Bunn the former City academy player neatly placed the ball through Claudio Bravo’s legs. This was the 13th (Thirteenth!) time Bravo has conceded the first shot he has faced in 25 appearances for City. But we’ll get to Bravo in a minute.
City had come close to taking the lead prior to the Terriers goal, with Leroy Sané hit the far post, with what looked to be a low cross from the left wing rather than a shot from where I was sat in the ground. He did get on the scoresheet not long after though, with another good run and clever play from Sterling on the right provided an easy tap in. The recent form and play that we’re seeing with Sterling and Sané playing on the wings is something which can only get better with time. The work rate, pace, and quick feet of these two has arguably been the backbone for City’s current good run of results and improvement in front of goal.
If I’m honest, they way I saw the game, there was a drop in Huddersfield’s tempo once City equalised, and that continued to drop as the goals went in. That’s not a criticism of Huddersfield or a question of their effort. It just felt as though their heads dropped and as the game went on, you could see their midfield and defence getting closer together, almost as if the last 20 minutes for them were damage limitation. That said, I don’t think City played to their best of their ability either. Particularly on an individual basis. Kevin De Bruyne has had a very mixed season for me; since before the Chelsea game, he’s looked a bit off the boil at times. Last night, his passing was as poor as it has been in a City shirt. He looked frustrated and Pep did the right thing by taking him off when he did. I don’t think this season’s form is anything to worry about, and barring last night, he has improved in recent games. Then again, he did set the bar very high for himself last season.
Elsewhere in midfield, Aleix Garcia was given more minutes and despite a shaky first quarter of an hour, he had a good game. He plays with a mature head. His pass accuracy is promising and he has he potential to turn into a very tidy midfielder. Looking at his style and the way he was deployed last night, I can see why there are suggestions amongst some fans that Pep fancies him as City’s Busquets in years to come. Though I think there’s a heck of a space between and it’s honestly an unrealistic expectation in terms of quality.
There’s something about Sergio Agüero this season, he’s been … hot, cold and everything in between. At times this season, Kün has cut the image of a frustrated man, the Chelsea game is the most obvious of examples. He has looked like he wants to prove his point in terms of scoring but has been reluctant to adapt his off the ball work to that of a Guardiola player. However, looking at the second half against Monaco and the game this week against Huddersfield and you see a totally different Kün. This Kün is smart, sharp and relentless. There were shades of Tevez during the Monaco game and against Huddersfield in the way that Sergio ran about. He didn’t allow the opposing defenders time to think, he ate up ground as he ran, every shot he hit was with intent. Whatever he’s said to the media recently about having 3 months to prove himself to the club, he’s backing up on the pitch with his last two outings. Sergio is and will always be a City hero and legend. Not just because of the QPR game, but because of everything else he does. He’s statistically and arguably from a fans point of view, the best out and out striker we’ve ever had. Tevez was a great centre forward, but Kün is a next level number 9. Not only did he score two against Huddersfield, he led from the front and made sensible runs and passes. Keep it up Sergio.
Turning Bravo, again. I don’t want to overplay the number one tune on the City fan bandwagon, but Bravo does fail to do Pep’s judgement justice. Bravo showed against Huddersfield that he does have the ability to distribute the ball with confidence and reasonable success; something Joe Hart, never really managed to do during his City career. However, he isn’t commanding, doesn’t have presence and doesn’t have the reflexes. Harry Bunn, deemed surplus to City’s requirements not so long ago, put the ball through Bravo’s legs. Alright you can blame the defence for allowing the chance to be created, but the keeper has to get something shots like that. Maybe I’m wrong.
Anyway, all in all, the result seemed fair, once City dug in. Kelechi Iheanacho again increased his prolific goals to minutes ratio by scoring City’s 5th. That said, you can’t help but think he won’t be in Pep’s squad for the opening game of next season. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t think Pep fancies Kelechi as one of his players.
Don’t forget to check out our preview of the weekends Premier League fixtures. Let us know if you agree or disagree with anything we’ve said here. Leave us a comment, give the page a share. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If there’s a subject you’d like us to cover, get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.