AaaarrrguerrNO! – Man City 1 Everton 0

Manchester City shaved another three points off Chelsea’s lead but it was as if they’d had their throat cut, with lifeblood Sergio Aguero suffering a serious injury.

A fortuitous penalty ultimately delivered a hard fought and deserved 1-0 win over Everton, but the focus fell on a horrible Aaaarrggguero moment when the Argentine super striker sustained suspected knee ligament damage.

Kissing adios to the Champions League? Will Sergio's absence spell doom for City in Rome? Courtesy@MCFC

Kissing adios to the Champions League? Will Sergio’s absence spell doom for City in Rome? Courtesy@MCFC

If, as feared, Sergio is sidelined for weeks if not months, it will be the biggest body blow imaginable to City’s charge to retain their Premier League crown and progress in the Champions League.

On present form Aguero is, quite simply, the best player in England – arguably in world football – and is irreplaceable. The loss of his goal-taking and goal-making could halt the momentum of Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who have sliced five points off Jose Mourinho’s eight point advantage in just a week.

Calm before the storm - Sergio lines up with colleagues and opponents before kick-off against Everton. Courtesy@MCFC

Calm before the storm – Sergio lines up with colleagues and opponents before kick-off against Everton. Courtesy@MCFC

Ruled out of Wednesday night’s showdown in Rome, Sergio’s injury is akin to Spartacus being absent from the Third Servile War, when the Thracian gladiator led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic.

The heart of many a City fan bled blue as Sergio cut a forlorn figure, tearful and hobbling badly around the perimeter of the Etihad pitch, back to the dressing room. It appeared that Everton’s Muhamed Besic had deliberately impeded Aguero on the field immediately prior to the injury.

With Aguero missing, Yaya Toure banned and doubts hanging over the return of Captain Fantastic Vincent Kompany and ‘Merlin’ David Silva, City could – metaphorically – be a team lacking a spine in the Stadio Olimpico.

Magnificent Seven - Yaya has a 100% success rate from the penalty spot in the Premier League. Courtesy@MCFC

Magnificent Seven – Yaya has a 100% success rate from the penalty spot in the Premier League. Courtesy@MCFC

A more devastating quartet of absentees is difficult to imagine from any City side for such a critical encounter at such a crucial stage of the season.

With only the giant Ivorian of the four on the field of play against Everton, City still managed to overcome the resilient Scousers, so often their nemesis in the past.

It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but it was a victory that showed grit, determination and still, a fair modicum of flair.

Samir Nasri, stepped up, James Milner never slowed down and stand-in skipper, Yaya looked like he’d regained his appetite for football in City sky blue.

Magnifique in Manchester -Nasri was superb against Everton. Courtesy@MCFC

Magnifique in Manchester -Nasri was superb against Everton. Courtesy@MCFC

Joe Hart produced a superb save from a goal-bound Romelu Lukaku strike, to demonstrate why his imminent signature on a new long-term City contract will be most welcome in the next day or so.

With a very combative and, at times, downright dirty Gareth Barry in their ranks (Team GB was cautioned and earned himself the dubious honour of the most booked player in Premier League history with 99 yellow cards) Everton managed to sustain apprehension levels among the City supporters through to the final whistle.

The shrill pitch of referee Andre Marriner’s mouthpiece was heard when England colleagues, James Milner and Phil Jagielka came together with a relatively innocuous bump in the visitor’s 18-yard box.

Celebration - Yaya is congratulated after his spot-kick conversion. Courtesy@MCFC

Celebration – Yaya is congratulated after his spot-kick conversion. Courtesy@MCFC

Horribly inconsistent in his decision making, Marriner awarded City a penalty as ‘Jimmy’ went to ground, but was immediately on his feet as he sought to retain possession of the ball.

Indefatigable, the winner of the Man of the Match accolade, Milner looked a little surprised at Marriner’s benevolence – the Everton defenders were stunned.

With Sergio off the pitch, Yaya shouldered the burden of spot kick responsibilities and drilled a text book drive low into the bottom right of the net, beyond a valiant Tim Howard.

Ministry of Defence - City held firm against a combative Everton. Courtesy@MCFC

Ministry of Defence – City held firm against a combative Everton. Courtesy@MCFC

Yaya has a 100% success rate with seven-out-of-seven penalties converted in the Premier League. It’d be appropriate to say long may it continue, bar the fact Aguero is the nominated penalty taker and City want Sergio on the pitch as often as possible.

Sergio’s replacement, 18-year old Jose Pozo, in only his second PL appearance from the bench, came close to doubling City’s lead with a sweet half volley, only to see it ricochet off Howard’s leg.

Milner had surged down the left flank and delivered a pinpoint cross to the former Real Madrid prodigy.

Action Man - James Milner was Man of The Match, as voted for by the Eitihad crowd. Courtesy@MCFC

Action Man – James Milner was Man of The Match, as voted for by the Eitihad crowd. Courtesy@MCFC

The youngster was substituted to make way for the vastly more experienced, but obviously not match-fit Edin Dzeko, hence Pozo’s 55 minute run out, allowing the Bosnian striker to ease back in over the final half-hour.

Apart from one deft header to set up a Milner volley, following a visionary looping pass from Lampard, Edin took it all a bit too easy for the liking of many of the home supporters.

With Sergio out, Dzeko needs to recapture his form from the run in on City’s title winning drive – and quickly – because his goals will be as vital now, as they were last April and May.

Yellow peril - Fernando was booked for kicking ex-City favourite Gareth Barry in the head! Courtesy@MCFC

Yellow peril – Fernando was booked for kicking ex-City favourite Gareth Barry in the head! Courtesy@MCFC

Eliaquim Mangala and Fernando both ‘earned’ deserved bookings, the French defender for an errant foot in the back of Samuel Eto’o, the Brazilian midfielder for an unfortunate kick to Barry’s head.

Apart from the rash and unnecessary challenge on Eto’o, the much maligned Mangala looked composed and imposing alongside the more refined and experienced Martin Demichelis.

Gael Clichy has been a transformation in City’s five-game winning run, possibly benefitting from regular playing time in the absence of the injured, but now available Aleksander Kolarov.

Cleaning up - Zaba helped City keep their fifth clean sheet in the Premier League this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Cleaning up – Zaba helped City keep their fifth clean sheet in the Premier League this season. Courtesy@MCFC

Pablo Zabaleta is gradually coming back to his best and the team’s second PL clean sheet in a week – only the fifth in 15 games – suggests the defensive fragilities are now being better addressed.

The same cannot be said of City’s insipid corner kicks which continue to frustrate and disappoint. 11 were awarded against Everton and none produced any real threat to boosting the ‘Goals For’ column.

Of City’s commendable 19 attempts on goals only three were on target, it would have been so different had Sergio not been reduced to tears.

How the Champions will cope without their best player in the coming days, weeks even months, will be a test of Manchester City’s mettle.

Walking back to happiness? - Will City's Spanish magician David Silva be back to conjure up Champions League glory? Courtesy@MCFC

Walking back to happiness? – Will City’s Spanish magician David Silva be back to conjure up Champions League glory? Courtesy@MCFC

If this particularly dark cloud is to have a Silva lining, it could the re-introduction of the Spanish creative genius in Rome in three days time.

A fully fit squad would have won the day in the Italian capital and, provided CSKA didn’t shock European football with a win in Munich, earned City passage to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

If an injury ravaged and suspension hit side can scramble into the draw for the last 16 it would be one of Pellegrini’s greatest achievements…albeit City shouldn’t be in such a perilous position in the first place.

Forlorn figure - Sergio hobbles around the touchline with suspected knee ligament damage. Courtesy@MCFC

Forlorn figure – Sergio hobbles around the touchline with suspected knee ligament damage. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s not a case of don’t cry for me Argentina – tears have already been shed for Sergio – but there could yet be tears of jubilation if City show the world they are far from being a ‘one-man’ team.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

Dedicated to my friend Steve Trinder and his son Jake for whom better times lay ahead. See you soon fellas.

 

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17 Comments

  1. December 7, 2014  10:32 am by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Great read, difficult game against another bogey side, however we showed our grit and if it finished 3-0 that would have been fair, it's also fair to say about time we had decisions go our way a bit. Absolutely gutted about Sergio more so for him, as he was finally getting the recognition he finally deserved. Let's hope this is weeks not months he'll be off but kompany and Silva almost back I'm sure we'll cope we're finally showing our mettle and that's why we're champs', take note world and PL.

    • December 7, 2014  2:57 pm by David Walker Reply

      Sergio's loss is a massive blow BUT those that he leaves behind on the field of play are capable of keeping City at a high level...whether it's enough to top Chelsea and keep us afloat in the Champions League remains to be seen. Cheers JHO.

  2. December 7, 2014  10:38 am by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    A great result and solid, hard fought win without messrs Aguero, Kompany, Silva and Jovetic. First of all, let's hope Sergio isn't too bad and isn't out for too long, the form he is in was a joy to behold and he struck fear into every team we came up against and, although we are NOT a one man team, we ain't the same force without him. The Roma game apart, our next five or six fixtures are as winnable as you'll get in the premier league so let's hope these absences don't affect the good run we're currently on. Time for the squad to come #Together and keep the pressure on Maureen's Chelski. There's a long way to go yet and I still think, being an optimist!!!, that we'll win the title, although my good feelings regarding the Roma game on Wednesday are beginning to wane, although stranger things have happened.

    PS - Jeff Whitley played 133 games for the blues

    • December 7, 2014  2:50 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for all your thoughts Gary - can't disagree with any of the points raised apart from City are still very capable of beating Roma...I think!

      Best of luck in the #MCFCLegendsTour competition.

  3. December 7, 2014  10:39 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    It was a very sad sight to see Sergio injured & in tears my heart went out to the little guy. I would of gladly sacrificed the pts for him not to be injured hope it's not a bad one & he will be back soon. Tough game but it always is against Everton but a win is a win. The two lads from Porto just need to calm down & be less clumsy on another day we could of seen two reds but apart from that tackle Malanga had a decent game. We got the decisions which makes a change not at are best & i think a bit shocked by Sergio injury we had most of the players & deserved the win. So on To Roma let's do it for Sergio. Good Blog again Mr Walker pat on the back for it. Hope Mrs W enjoyed the Buble concert.

    • December 7, 2014  2:45 pm by David Walker Reply

      You'll see you're not the only one who believes Messrs Mangala and Fernando need to stop being reckless. I totally agree. Deeply saddening to see Sergio in such a state. I fear the worst for him this season but hope to goodness I'm wrong. City will HAVE to buy a couple of top quality players in January otherwise we run the risk of being too threadbare. Bony of Swansea and, at a push, Reus from Dortmund would be great additions.

      We can still pull it out of the hat in Rome, but a difficult challenge has now become a whole lot harder.

      And yes, Mrs W was enthused about Mr Buble thanks very much.

  4. December 7, 2014  11:31 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    As always David, you have covered the main talking points from a game where Everton as usual made life difficult.
    There were good performances all over from a team determined to secure the 3 vital points
    Special mention for Nasri, Clichy, Demichelis, Toure and of couse man of the match Jimmy Milner.
    As regards Fernando and Mangala - both had decent games but please guys calm down ! Mangala was lucky not to see red and perhaps the same can be said for Fernando.
    Jose Pozo had a decent 60 minutes on the pitch and could have scored but the fact he was in the right place at the right time says a lot about his talent
    As regards the penalty - Yes a bit "soft" but that cancels out the "drop dead" penalty from last week
    So with games coming thick and fast we have to cope without Sergio but we did it last year for a long time even when Negredo's form dipped after his injury.The difference this year being the absence of Ya Ya due to African Nations.
    It is is perhaps impossible to say what Wednesday's team selection will be, but if at the end of the game we can say "They did their best" that will suffice but hopefully their best will see us progress in a competion where we have self inflicted this do or die situation.

    • December 7, 2014  2:38 pm by David Walker Reply

      I have no doubt Rome would have fallen with Sergio, Vincent and David but now...

      Jovetic knows the Italian scene and if we can keep it tight at the back, who knows, one goal might be enough. Bang on about our ex-Porto boys #CalmDownCalmDownCalmDown - I think Mangala will prove to be a fine acquisition but I am far from convinced about Fernando. For a man with his reputation built as a stalwart in front of the defence, he is tackled and dispossessed far too often. I do envy Chelsea Matic in that role. We've never really found an upgrade on De Jong - we need to do just that.

  5. December 7, 2014  11:42 am by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Anyone else think the Everton side were under instructions to deliver an early doors "reducer" on Sergio? Besic certainly looked as though he was out to get Aguero, and it was his foul that led to Kun overextending himself to try and win the ball back.

    Never been a huge fan of Everton, even less so now with all their moaning about how hard done by they were, and they seem to be reverting to the Everton of old with niggly foul after niggly foul made and unpunished. FWIW, I'll take James Milner's version of events around the penalty - a body check/trip like that would be a foul anywhere else on the pitch, so fair penalty for me!

    Time to expedite that work permit for Iheanacho, because we look woefully light up front with both Aguero and Jovetic out - Pozo looks a decent prospect and was a bit unlucky not to score yesterday, but he looked a bit lightweight under the brutal attentions of Distin and Jagielka

    Roma match is looking pretty difficult now wouldn't you say? :(

    • December 7, 2014  2:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      Agree with everything you have written No 5. It looks a deliberate foul by Besic although we can never be sure of the intent. I think City will be buying a striker in the January window and were looking to do so before Sergio's injury. Rumours abound about Boney from Swansea, albeit he'll foxtrot oscar to the African Cup of Nations in Jan/Feb if we did acquire him.

    • December 8, 2014  11:42 am by Joe Reply

      He sure did a number on aguero. The ball was nowhere near besic as kun made his efforts to reclaim the ball and you can clearly see besic not even looking at the ball as he took him out. No need for super slow motion. No mention at all in the media, what a surprise.

      • December 8, 2014  3:12 pm by David Walker Reply

        Spot on Joe - why nobody has picked up on it I don't know. It's just explained away as Sergio overstretching, but I think Besic influenced proceedings, presumably without wishing to cause that amount of damage, but who knows? He's guilty of something but nobody gives a damn.

  6. December 7, 2014  3:17 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    The penalty it was a blatant body check, even in Rugby would have been penalised. We looked at ease in the first half. In the second, with nothing to loose, they pushed for an equaliser and City (with minds no doubt on the visit to the eternal city) sat back and 'rope a doped'.

    What on earth prompted MP to play little Pozo as our front man? Up against internationals Distin and Jagielka he cut a forlorn figure. So ineffective they all but ignored him. It changed a little when Dzeko came on, but not much. What best describes Edin, lazy, indolent, slothful, apathetic? Someone who expends more energy avoiding contact than making it. God help us if he is given Aguero's duties.

    Kun's unfortunate injury should concentrate the minds on finding an understudy during the January sales, hopefully funded by 'cashing in' Dzeko.

    • December 7, 2014  5:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'd be pretty miffed if that penalty had been given against City, rather than for us. Obviously we're not going to turn it down but it did look a tad soft. Pozo came within an American shin of his first Premier League goal and I think the plan was to play him because Dzeko couldn't hack a full 90 minutes having been out injured. Edin and Stevan will have to really step up in Sergio's absence and I'm pretty sure City will be active in the January transfer market.

      Edin is an enigma - he does score vital goals and was integral to our title win last season - but sometimes he needs a Duracell battery rammed up his jacksy. Thanks as ever TT.

  7. December 7, 2014  9:17 pm by Glenn Kavanagh Reply

    I don't like to moan to much about the refs...but they have being absolutely shocking for the last couple of games. Just nowhere near good enough plain & simple. Proud of the team for the way they have stood together over the past month, its great to see - terrible about Sergio horrible. Will he play again this season?? Clichy milner & especially nasri were brilliant. What a joy it is to watch samir playing the game when his head is right. Touch balance desire its all there. A great reading during the week with marwood in the telegraph I think it is. Talking in dept about the club & their plans. The club are in great hands with these people running the show. I was very very impressed. (Not easily done) so much for a plastic club etc etc - I don't think so buddy!!!! Give Thierry henry a 5 month contract he's free. Will score goals has vital big game experience & would drive Mr Wenger absoluty nuts. Sign him up. Come on city.

    • December 7, 2014  10:30 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great feedback - feel the passion - and a quirky idea on Thierry Henry! Thanks GK.

    • December 7, 2014  10:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      PS: I don't actually 'like' to moan about referees but most of the time I'd be doing a disservice to myself and anybody who cares to read this blog (for whatever reason) if I didn't pass comment on some of them who are, at times, imbeciles. Some do their best, often not good enough, some are passable and a very small minority aren't too bad. What annoys me most is the arrogance and holier than thou attitude that comes with many modern day referees, who believe themselves to be celebrities in their own right. How long before once of these self righteous twerps ends up with Ant & Dec in the Aussie jungle?

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