Manuel Pellegrini will be regretting his decision of preferring Iheanacho over Samir Nasri in his Champions League squad. Nasri has been injected with some effervescence after his 5 month injury absence and was probably City’s best player in their most recent match. Nasri obviously has designs on the ultra-competitive France squad for Euro 2016.
WBA actually started the game very well and were fortunate when Fernando passed the ball to Nasri, fortuitously the ball hit the ref, Sunderland gaining possession feeding James McLean who crossed the ball that beat Kolarov for Sessegnon to sweep home on six minutes. It was a very direct and sweetly struck goal that shocked the Etihad crowd.
City were fast asleep once again, an ominous sign for the forthcoming return leg when PSG and Ibrahamovic visit on Tuesday night. £64m on Managala and Otamendi and they defend very poorly with hardly any understanding, which is totally frustrating the Etihad crowd.
On 18 minutes Sessegnon clipped Kolarov’s run in the penalty area and the referee awarded a penalty instantly. Sergio Aguero calmly slotted home a confident spot kick that Ben Foster got close to. Aguero scored his 19th goal in an injury-ravaged season, but still represents the best value at £32m spent by the Abu Dhabi owners.
City are beginning to get a mercenary whiff about them, with players being paid vast wages and signing on fees, but performances not remotely reflecting their price tags. All five of Sterling, Fernando, Ferdandinho, Mangala and Otamendi fall into that camp, not remotely representing their transfer fees with effort and ability on the pitch. Nigh on £150m in those five, rarely justifying their vastly inflated fees and wages.
This was the 12th time City have gone behind in 32 Premier League games and in the those 12 games they have only managed to win just three. That is quite damning that a title winning squad is not able to comeback from 1-0 down more frequently.
Pellegrini brought on the big guns Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne on 60 minutes replacing Delph and Bony. De Bruyne instantly injected some energy and his run fed Navas, who passed to Aguero. The Argentinian’s double shot was well saved only for the rebound to fall to Samir Nasri and he poked home.
West Brom huffed and puffed, but only created one cast iron chance, and Saido Berahino should have scored. Darren Fletcher was at his best but City were back on the front foot. De Bruyne seems to lift the whole team, and Nasri maintained his bristling enthusiasm.
The only cloud on City’s horizon was when Aguero was taken off with a minor injury on 90 minutes. With Chelsea and Newcastle next, City are beginning to look favourites for the top four places again.
The arrival of Pep Guardiola has undoubtedly de-stabilised this squad, and they resemble more of a team of individuals than a composed team at times. Guardiola will have his blueprint and deep pockets to resolve this indifference that has been displayed by much of this City squad. In light of recent Premier League performances one can only envisage Pep Guardiola undertaking a large cull of a huge swathe of this squad.