Brace yourself because this is going to be a long post as I have a lot to talk about.
What a shame, what an absolute shame. The score line did not reflect the game by any measure and to a by passer, it seemed like a standard City outing. It was not. Aston Villa left the field without a point but are able to take a lot of pride from the 90 minutes.
I’ll start by saying that the line up was hindered by an warm up injury to Gabby resulting in Wiemann playing instead and Grealish being put into the game on the bench as he was originally not in the team at all. I felt this was a big loss as you could clearly see throughout the game that we missed the pace and ambition to get the ball Agbonlahor offers week in and week out. Having said that, the team was admirable in their efforts. They closed down players, forced City to makes mistakes and pass the ball back to the defence; the glimmer of 3 points was there and possible. It was a game that anybody could take, and I must admit, it was an exciting game. Lets have a closer look at some of our players and talk about their contributions.
I’m going to start with the negatives and Wiemann was a big one. He struggled up front on his own, it is a simple as that. More or less every opportunity offered to him was blundered or lost and this was a real shame because Wiemann tries hard for the club and this is visible in his work rate. However, trying and succeeding are two different things and I believe he is edging closer and closer to the bench (which is where he originally started before Gabby got injured). 61 minutes on the pitch and Wiemann only had 17 touches and even worse he ‘achieved’ a 38% pass accuracy. Disturbingly bad. Putting that into contrast Auguero had 50 touches and 90% pass accuracy. Major difference. Benteke played half the time and had 16 touches.
Going forward, I would like to see Wiemann benched more to see if his work rate can be pushed further in order to get back into the team. I like him, but it’s not about liking a player, it’s about having the correct player for the team and unfortunately, he wasn’t the one today which is not Lamberts fault as it went against the original plan.
Those who have read my previous posts know my thoughts on Richardson, but that doesn’t mean I am out to gun him whenever he plays. Having said that, I still believe that he is not right for our team and would much rather see Grealish start instead. Richardson got the full 90 minutes and too be honest, I’m not sure how that happened because I was convinced that he would be the player going off for Benteke and Wiemann would be pushed wide. I say this because even though Wiemann played terrible today, I believe this is because he is out of his depth as a CF and works much better on the wing. It would have been nice to see the partnership get some time together.
Back to Richardson. 90 minutes and only 19 touches. David Silva had 104. This is comparing apples to oranges though and isn’t really a fair comparison as the two players are in two completely different classes, the later being a master. In addition to that, it has been pointed out before that stats such as touches and passes mean nothing and in this case, it is completely true as Silva may have had 104 touches, but we still put in a great shift and played very well against Man City. It wasn’t as one sided as that comparison makes it seem. Richardson seemingly found himself in goal scoring opportunities and for a second, I actually thought he was going to bag a goal for us but in all honesty, he looked nervous and off in front of goal and i’m sad to admit that I had no faith in him. I would like to see Richardson dropped and replaced by Grealish who played 19 minutes, looked more lively and had 15 touches with 100% pass accuracy.
Cissokho was fairly solid at the back today, he and the rest of the back line put in a major shift and held their ground but this isn’t where my problem was. Going forward, Cissokho wasn’t great, he took too long passing the ball which resulted in him getting trapped and losing it and then he was even slower going back. This was evident as Delph did a lot of chasing and towards the end, Grealish was seemingly acting as a left back making the tackles and clearing. The last few notes are that bad as it is good to see the team is more than capable of covering each others positions and filling in the gaps. But going forward, he needs more confidence on the ball. All in all, good performance, just wasn’t very optimistic about him going forward, evident in his 58% passing accuracy. We touched on this last week, the attack starts from the back and if they are firing blanks 42% of the times, what chances are we being left?
So those are my complaints and I think they are fair ones. Please disagree and comment where necessary. There was a lot of good to be had from the day.
The match was exciting, it was a genuinely exciting game. The crowd really was on form and the atmosphere in the park was rocking, especially with the return of Benteke. We echoed confidence. For the majority of the game, the City fans stayed quiet as they weren’t expecting us to take the game to them. The only time they piped up was when they scored, at which point they acted as if they had been cheering and taunting the entire game. It was an annoying sight.
As badger mentioned yesterday, we looked firm and good on the ball for the most part. There was a game plan and it wasn’t just sit back, soak it up and see if we can nick it. On the contrary, we chased, tackled and went at them. The one trick pony looked like it had another up it’s sleeve.
Benteke is back and boy did it show, even if only for little moments. The biggest difference is that it felt as if we had an attacking presence on the pitch, somebody that could make a difference and actually score. The ball could be passed forward and he could hold the ball! We had a player that could hold the ball up front, on his own! It’s exciting and as we’ve all mentioned, the true test will be against Everton and I fully expect us to take all 3 points from that match as if it were our divine right.
Today was unfortunate and not at all well represented by the score. Chin up and look to the future, it is there to be taken and look at the games we have just put behind us.