Diouf goal seals disappointing defeat for Blues
FA Premier League
Saturday 30 August 2014, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Sagna, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernando (Fernandinho 37), Toure, Silva, Nasri (Navas 63), Jovetic (Dzeko 63), Aguero
Unused: Caballero, Zabaleta, Milner, Clichy
Booked: Toure, Fernandinho
Referee: Lee Mason
Man of the Match: Aguero
The first defeat of the 2014/15 season, and a very disappointing one at that. But if we needed a reminder that there are no easy games in the Premier League, then this was certainly just that.
Stoke arrived in fairly poor form, having lost their first game at home to Aston Villa and only managing a point in their second game away at Hull. Yet they arrived at The Etihad with a real sense of purpose, and left as deserved winners.
City made three changes from the side that comfortably swept aside Liverpool on Monday night, out went Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta and Edin Dzeko, and in came Bacary Sagna, Aleksander Kolarov and Sergio Aguero. On paper it looked an incredibly strong City side, with pace, power and guile. Yet during the game, City didn't seem to possess any of those traits.
The game started with City having lots of the ball, yet seemingly struggling to do anything with it. The passing was far too laboured, allowing Stoke time to regroup, limiting our space. Nasri and Silva were struggling to find space in which to operate in and the game was crying out for width and pace.
Stoke came with a game plan, and to their credit, stuck to it wonderfully. They operated with two strikers, with Crouch and Diouf working incredibly hard to press City's central defensive pairing when in possession, and using two wingers to potentially break and counter-attack City. This all came to fruition in the second-half, City inexplicably gave the ball away from a short corner, and when Kolarov failed to tackle Diouf, the former Manchester United man ran half the length of the pitch, before slotting through Joe Hart's legs. The England International will be disappointed to have beaten so easily, but Stoke were more than good value for their lead.
City responded by bringing on Edin Dzeko and Jesus Navas for the fairly ineffective duo of Samir Nasri and Stevan Jovetic, the game plan was simple, use the width and try to hurt Stoke from crosses, rather than playing through the middle. The problem was when City had the space and time out wide, the delivery into the box was poor. Jesus Navas was more than guilty of playing in poor crosses when in excellent positions, and Sergio Aguero missed a great chance late on to level.
When the final whistle went, it sent the Stoke fans into raptures, they more than deserved their victory, and for City it served as a reminder that there can be no room for complacency, and with tough games against Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Chelsea all to come, City will need to be at their best to avoid more dropped points.