And on it goes. Despite the statistics showing some fair league form, City feel like a team in disarray, mostly due to calamitous defending week after week, routine derby wins apart.
With Kompany, Silva and Kolarov out, much of the team picked itself, with Mangala and Demichelis at the back being a justified cause for concern. With Clichy at left-back and Sagna chosen at right back, it was not a team to fill if all with confidence. At least Yaya Toure was pushed forward, but more disappointment arose from the omission of Milner. It was another unique line up with Fernando and Fernandinho partnering each other in midfield.
With Chelsea winning at Anfield earlier in the day, it already seemed like a lost cause defending the title, ridiculous as that sounds with six months of the season left. It’s easy to be defeatist, as the team cannot get results like Chelsea right now, though it should be pointed out they needed a soft penalty to defeat QPR at home the previous week – but they did win, and that’s the important thing.
City started well in treacherous conditions, but it wasn’t long before normal service was resumed. Sloppy passing and nervy defending was the order of the day against a lively QPR attack, and it was of little surprise when Charlie Austin finally got the opening goal at the third attempt after two disallowed efforts, and following more appalling defending on the left. City rallied, but did not create anywhere near enough until the closing stages.
In the end, a clinical header from Demichelis summed up our back line at the moment, and proved that when things aren’t going well, you can’t catch a break, as Dzeko also hobbled off having only just come on. Too many players, not just defenders, are off-colour, none more so than Fernando in front of the defence. For this reason it’s declare that our newest signings are failures when so many around them, aren’t any better. It’s hard to judge them in a team suffering a crisis of confidence, and we continue to play out-of-form players, suggesting once again a lack of depth in our squad.
The defence is unsettling the team as a whole, but it does not help that we are so slow on the attack sometimes. With Navas in the team, Yaya’s turbo setting and a lively Aguero in the middle we should be lethal, but too often we slow things down with sideways passing. I do pine for some more destructive pace in this side – just look at Arsenal’s goal at Swansea today to see evidence of what we should be doing more of.
City have needed Nasri to step into Silva’s shoes during the Spaniards absence, and many won’t be surprised that hasn’t happened. He isn’t helped by coming back from injury himself and being plonked out wide, which also means little protection for the maligned Clichy. The fact is though, City are too reliant right now on a select few players.
The only reason City didn’t lose this time around was because of two imperious performances at each end of the pitch.
Which brings us nicely to Sergio Aguero. It’s such a joy to see him playing for our team right now, a player completely on top of his game. God help us if he gets injured, as we are only in touch with Chelsea (kind of) because of his brilliance. With Dzeko impotent and now injured and Jovetic a big disappointment, we are totally reliant on him, making the decision not to replace Negredo looking a tad iffy, though hindsight is a wonderful thing and other big teams survive without a wealth of strikers. His first goal was offside and included an accidental hand ball, but the control was phenomenal.
(A review of his lengthy autobiography will follow next week.)
As for Joe Hart, apart from one crazy moment which City were very lucky to escape from (though the rules were applied correctly, it does seem a bit harsh on QPR – we escaped on a technicality) he was imperious in difficult conditions. Whilst Caballero has hardly set the world on fire since his arrival, he has it seems had a positive effect on Hart, as he now has serious competition for his shirt and has responded with a series of committed displays. Long may it continue. I am still not convinced he is a top class goal-keeper, not world-class, but let’s hope he proves me wrong, he has time on his side.
As per usual, City stepped it up for the final ten minutes when it was too late, though we had enough chances to win the game.
Credit to QPR though, they have been playing better for weeks now and had an energy about them that impressed – it is worth noting even though our team should beat them easily however well they may play.
The performance will inevitably put more pressure on the manager of a team who kicked off the season as double winners only two and a half months ago. Crazy, but there you go, fickleness rules, and one fan even called him a “myth of a manager” on a message board today.
And so to an international break, which is needed but will see players flying all over the world, the odd injury too no doubt and little time for the squad to work together to sort out the problems.
Still, on today of all days, it’s important to note we’re just in a run of bad form, we’ll be good again at some point, win some trophies and enjoy good times. It’s just a game of football, don’t lose too much sleep over a drawn match.
It seems 4-4-2 wasn’t to blame for all our ills after all!