City traveled to The Stadium of Light for the late kick off on Sunday afternoon. The blues needing to carry on their winning ways in order to keep up to speed with the race for Champions League football next season. Sunderland on the other hand are desperate for points in the fight to avoid relegation.
The big talking point as kick-off approached was the fact that Kevin de Bruyne would start the game on the bench. To be fair, this felt like the right call because his performance against Huddersfield during the week was poor. I personally don’t think he’s been having that great of a season, since before the Chelsea game and up until last month, he’s looked frustrated and drifted in and out of most games.
Early on in the game, it looked like Yaya Toure and Bacary Sagna were playing on a time delay, as their involvements in the first 15 minutes suggested the game would be passing both of them by. Sunderland’s compact midfield and defence meant that City would have little space available through the middle and so the majority of City’s attempts were out wide. In addition to this, Agüero was dropping deep and playing more of a “pivot” role, laying the ball off to the energetic Sané and Sterling on the flanks.
Sunderland had the first good effort of the game with Jermaine Defoe striking the post. Let’s be honest, he’s really the only thing that’s kept Sunderland’s survival hopes alive this far into the season.
Aleks Kolarov was playing as a left-sided centre-back again and he looked shaky defensively early on. However, he played an amazing diagonal ball out from deep in the City half, which must have covered two thirds of the pitch in distance. Sterling latched onto it on the edge of the Sunderland box and it looked like City were in for a chance, but an attempted back heel to Agüero was blocked and the move ended. In fact, prior to the deadlock being broken, City’s passing in final third was letting them down.
City were enjoying the majority of the possession, as they did throughout the game.By the half hour mark the blues had made three times as many passes than Sunderland. Though it was arguably Sunderland whose chances looked the most dangerous. The once labelled ‘Wonderkid’, Adnan Januzaj, made an impressive run where he darted past three or four City players, though the end product was very poor and resembled nothing like the player United fans saw as the next Giggs only a few seasons ago. Willy Caballero was forced to make a decent save from a Billy Jones header on 35 minutes following a Sunderland corner.
The last ten minutes of the first half saw City turn it up a gear. Firstly, the blues came close on 37 minutes thanks to a great penetrating ball by Yaya Toure through to Sané, who turned well to beat the Sunderland defender. Unfortunately, the young German blasted the ball too hard across face of goal and although David Silva got a toe to it, the pace of the cross was too much for him to poke the ball in. It was a chance that should have been turned into a goal.
Agüero slots in City’s first goal. His 23rd goal in 31 appearances for City in all competitions this season.
City did, however, get their goal just before half time, when Agüero bagged a neat tap in from good cross by Sterling that nutmegged, Oviedo, the Sunderland left back. The move started in city half with a recovery of possession from Yaya Toure. The goal was Agüero’s 12th of the season in league also his 5th goal in 4 appearances at The Stadium of Light.
City should’ve been 2-0 up in final minute of 1st half, after a good run from Agüero and a ball over the defenders passed by Sterling and fell to David Silva, who had been careful with his run, but the linesman ruled him offside. This was the wrong decision in my opinion, Silva was not offside.
The feeling at half time was that City hadn’t really made most of the possession they’d had. However, they started the second half well and in the 59th minute Silva played a beautifully weighted through ball out wide left to Sané. The winger burst into the box and struck the ball low past Jordan Pickford and it went in off the far post. A superb goal. Sané and Silva have been in such rich form as of late and the goal was merely a continuation. “We’ve got…” *clap clap* “Guardiola!..” rang out amongst City fans, whilst Sunderland fans were seen leaving early.
Sunderland were quick to try and get back into it and Willy Caballero was called up to make two good saves within the space of just a few minutes of City’s 2nd goal. Their efforts would amount to very little and the game slowed down in the main. Sunderland picked up a bit again though after the substitutions were made. But, aside from a Jermaine Defoe strike being flagged correctly offside in the 83rd minute, it was too little too late. Unlike David Silva, Defoe was miles offside. Jordan Pickford was forced to make another fine save from Sergio Agüero as the game drew to a close. Surely Pickford will find himself at new club in the summer?…
All in all, it was job done for City. Banana skin avoided. Sunderland fans will feel frustrated that there wasn’t a better effort made by their team in some areas, but when you’re in their position, they need to focus on picking up points from teams around them. They won’t be relegated on the basis of a defeat to City alone. The Black Cats find themselves rock bottom of the table and they face Burnley at home in their next game, anything less than 3 points and I think the atmosphere could become quite sour.
City fans can be pleased with the team performance. The game at home to Stoke on Wednesday is a big chance to move up to second and create a bit of a gap between third and fourth. It’s also clear to see that Leroy Sané is getting better game by game. Him on one wing and Sterling on the other has provided a level of pace which has been craved for quite some time. David Silva is purring game by game at the moment. He is absolutely a joy to watch. Another highlight, and somewhat of a bonus, was hearing him speak English in a rare interview after the game.
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