Pep Talk 33: Five observations from ManCity’s huff puff win at Oxford United

Oxford United 1-3 Manchester City

League Cup (Carabao Cup) Quarterfinals

* Oxford United (at 49 places below ManCity in the UK overall Football standings, as per commentators) gave a good account of themselves. Fact that City’s lone fit striker Gabriel Jesus had to come onto the pitch at the 62nd min and not get complete rest, bears testimony. Oxford United were full on energy and ambition. and gave the viewers a great game to watch.

* Raheem Sterling was the best player on the pitch (not just for his double strike) and Riyadh Mahrez had yet another off day. Some of the latter’s passing were very careless. 1.5yrs since his signing, Man City fans are fair to expect more from him. Joao Cancelo, Rodri.. all signed in the last six months have slowly started claiming a position in the starting XI.

* Claudio Bravo (the player I was most nervous about) had a good day and that’s not something we tell about him often. It was good to see Oleksandr Zinchenko play the 90 mins, in midfield and look sharp too. City needs him back at the left back position sooner.

* The two young centre backs .. Eric Garcia & Taylor Harwood-Bellis are shaping up well. The defence was steady in face of the non stop Oxford attacks. While ManCity have been linked to 763 (😜!!) players till date for transfers (mostly MFs, wingers and wing backs), what the team needs most are steady and fit centre backs and complete and fit strikers.

* Manchester City got the job done (expectedly) and now face Manchester United in the semifinals. A derby which City lost earlier this month at the Etihad. This semifinal clash, at Old Trafford, is just over two weeks away. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane won’t be fit till then. Sergio Aguero’s fitness anyways is a suspect and Benjamin Mendy is sure to be unfit by then.

Looking forward… and that too with a bench minus Mikel Arteta.

Thank you senor.

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