• Karel L.

City wins and secures a place in the next round of the FA Cup

Manchester City gave a great game and after beating Fulham secured their place in the next round of the FA Cup.

The analysis

To tell the truth, the starting lineup was not at all a surprise, and despite the fact that many teams sometimes take cup games lightly and do not give them the corresponding seriousness, this is not something that characterizes Pep.

From the start, in fact, the team looked quite solid, with an attack where Mahrez returned after his participation in the African Cup of Nations and where Foden and Grealish repeated as usual.

That said, I must also clarify that something that was very pleasing was to see Liam Delap back on the bench, the young man has gone through several injuries that have kept him away from the field and the first team for a long time, so seeing that he is physically well is a reason to rejoice.

However, from the start, something that could be easily noticed is how necessary Riyad is for this team, although his speed has been criticized a lot in recent years, the reality is that he is a highly technical guy.

Mahrez contributes in all aspects of the team and as if that were not enough, he is always committed to helping in the recovery of the ball, in fact, for many moments of the match, he was in charge of stopping the opponent when Walker was outplayed.

During the first minutes of the match, City started pressing high, stealing the ball almost immediately and limiting the actions and the opponent's positioning on the pitch.

Unfortunately for the team, the opponent's goal was an early goal due to an oversight, but the most remarkable thing about all this is the level of response we had. Not even a minute had passed and Gundogan had already tied the score.

This kind of aggressiveness is something that, in my opinion, we had lost a long time ago. With this I don't mean that the team doesn't want to win or score, I'm just saying that throughout this season and part of last season we had seen a City that preferred to keep calm, close spaces, dominate the game, and based on that win, here the thing was different, the team was completely thrown forward as if it was life or death.

Fulham played an intelligent game, never rushed, occupied the spaces well, and opened up a lot of space for their wingers to make City's fullbacks less comfortable when going forward.

However, from the 30th minute onwards, the team lowered its intensity and gave the ball completely to Fulham, who, to tell the truth, caused little danger during these minutes.

For the second half, the Citizens started to press forward again to prevent Fulham from feeling comfortable on the field, besides they were only one goal away and it was necessary to put an end to their hopes.

This kind of pressure gave us the opportunity to win the ball back very quickly on many occasions, which led to both the 3rd and 4th goals.

Finally, this time I have nothing negative to comment on, on the contrary, I think there were some very positive aspects that need to be highlighted.

First of all, there is Fulham's attitude, as we almost never see a team that comes out with the intensity they had, in fact, we almost always face opponents whose main objective is not to be humiliated.

I understand that this attitude is obviously a product of the competition that forces you to kill or be killed, but it is also very remarkable that they decided to come out to our field to play us as equals.

Besides, it is impressive the number of options we have in the team to face each match. All the players are world-class and even the young players could be starters in 90% of the teams in the league.

Pep has known how to use his cards very well, there is no doubt about that, but we must also mention how complete the squad is because when there are no injuries, we look unstoppable.

Key moments

The match was marked by 3 important moments.

- 5' Gundogan's goal: To tell the truth, this moment was vital for the development of the match because after conceding a goal a minute earlier we needed an immediate response to restore our confidence.

- 12' Stones goal: By the 12th minute City were already winning thanks to Stones, and this moment also needs to be highlighted because in less than 10 minutes City had come from behind in a game that could have been very difficult.

- 77' Delap comes on the field: Even though there were several more goals, this is the moment I want to highlight the most of the game because Liam is finally back. The final part of last year was hard for the youngster who had not been able to make his debut due to injuries, that's why seeing him back on the field and in such good shape is very important for the team, especially for the second part of the season.

Players of the Match

As it could not be otherwise, the first to be recognized in this match is Kevin de Bruyne. As I have said during the last few games, the Belgian is slowly getting back to his best and that makes him essential for the team.

Today he not only provided two assists, but he was also in charge of managing and directing the whole team on the pitch.

On the other hand, we have Riyad, who to tell the truth we missed a lot on the right flank. The Algerian scored a goal and also assisted, which makes him worthy of a special mention for his great performance.

Last but not least is Gundogan. Last season something that helped us a lot and made us go so far in all competitions was the level of the German, who constantly appeared by surprise in the box to score.

Well, this season he is returning to that level, as well as being vital in the team's recovery.

Post-match reactions

· Our coach talked about his feelings about the game. “Very pleased to be in the next round. This round showed us there can be many surprises and we won against a very top team.” [via @ManCity]

· In addition, Fernandinho spoke about City's good handling of the game. "It was a typical FA Cup tie - they started better, scored first. I’m glad we scored quick and then took the lead. Overall it was a good game and we controlled it. I’m happy we got through. It was important to go through and now we focus on the PL..." [via @ManCity]

· Finally, the Brazilian player also spoke of the importance of this cup for the team. "The #FACup is really important for everyone at #ManCity, especially the players. I hope we can reach the final and give our fans two trips to Wembley to enjoy the day over there and let's try to win it again." [via @ManCity]

Who's next?

Manchester City will face Brentford on Wednesday, February 9.