The big news of Pep Guardiola’s imminent arrival at Manchester City seems to have had an indifferent impact on City’s team. Sunderland are quite obdurate opponents and Sam Allardyce, as one would expect, has drilled it in to the Black Cats that home form is crucial if they are to survive in the Premier League.
The match was quite fitful never really hitting any form of fluency. Pellegrini chose Jesus Navas’s extra width and pace and it was Navas’s deflected pass that fell into Aguero’s path for the first goal on 16 minutes. Aguero was injured during shooting for the goal but carried on albeit in an inhibited way.
Raheem Sterling has been relegated to the bench of late and only made it on the pitch for the last 14 minutes. That was symptomatic of the vast gulf in resources of the two clubs that City can stroll to a win without the £107m pair of De Bruyne and Sterling participating much.
Sunderland to their immense credit never rolled over and had a shot cleared off the line by Otamendi in a goal mouth scramble. Defoe also masterfully turned and shot but was denied by an in form Joe Hart.
Sam Allardyce has volumes of vocal detractors but one thing you cannot knock is the defensive shape and how well he drills his teams. If I was any of the bottom six teams I’d prefer Sam to any of their managers, and how Blackburn and Bolton must rue the folly of dismissing him and falling over the precipice.
In praise of Sunderland they have an average attendance of 44,000 in 2015/16 and Man City couldn’t get 44,000 for their Capital Cup Semi-Final versus Everton at the Etihad in a stadium that can hold 59,000.
Allardyce went with a 4-1-4-1 formation deploying his new Bayern Munich signing Jan Kirchoff as a defensive midfielder. Considering Sunderland are still second bottom Allardyce has reason to fear for the future. “I feel gutted,” he said.
“It’s the most disappointed I’ve been since coming here. A point was the least we deserved. We created more chances than Manchester City but Joe Hart showed why he’s the England goalkeeper. City had one chance and Agüero scored. But I don’t know anybody who has played as well as Jan Kirchhoff in central midfield for anybody this season.”
In his Guardian interview Pellegrini was asked about his impending departure. “I’m not thinking about that,” came the reply. “I’m just thinking about having a good season. We’re not thinking about the future; we’re living in the present.”
When you have a world class striker who has scored 12 goals in 10 Premier League games, it always makes a difference. Aguero has 91 goals in 137 City games, a fantastic record, and the forward will need to stay fit if Manchester City are to win the league.