• Karel L.

City wins again and qualifies for the next round of the FA Cup

After a difficult week due to the large number of COVID cases in the team, City managed to win against Swindon and advance to the next round of the FA Cup.

The analysis

When it was announced that a large number of people from the team would not be available due to the COVID-19, I saw that the concern increased for many people in social media, because they did not want the team to be eliminated from another competition.

To be completely honest, I didn't think it was a cause for alarm because even though it is a delicate issue that should be handled with care so that our players and staff members have a quick and good recovery, it is also true that there are many young players with great talent within the team who rarely have the opportunity to play, so the possibility of seeing them on the field made me quite excited.

Now, despite the absences, the lineup presented was top quality, with Rodri in the midfield accompanying De Bruyne and Gundo, with Palmer up front, and with many young players on the bench like Kayky, Mbete, McAtee, Lavia, Bobb, Egan-Riley, and Slicker.

At the start, I was under the impression that Palmer would play as a false 9, but as we got into the game he was positioned on the right, leaving Bernardo as a false 9, which is where he has worked best when playing alongside De Bruyne.

To be totally honest, I've always liked these cup games because the opponent has nothing to lose, so they usually go out to compete in a different way, pressing, attacking as much as possible, etc. In addition, they don't stay in their own half (at least not all the time) as many teams that play against us in the league usually do.

Going into tactical details, I have to say that City already has quite well defined how to attack and defend, because when we had the ball Cancelo and Walker went forward to form a line of 3 with Rodri, while behind were Dias and Ake to push that line and try to lock the locals very close to their goal.

In defense, the style was modified and each fullback returned to his original position to avoid being at a disadvantage in a possible counterattack.

This thing I mentioned earlier about moving the line forward thanks to the center backs is something we have been doing a lot lately and it worked today, because when the game doesn't seem clear and the spaces don't appear, the center backs usually pass the ball to the goalkeeper (who is already only a few meters away from them) to look for a long pass, many of which during today's game seemed to be remote-controlled and arrived either at Gabriel's or Rodri's feet.

Having said that, and although I will talk more about it later in the single negative point of the game, I have to say that during the week I read many comments from people thinking that City, between absences and so on, would not take the game seriously, which was totally false, as everyone was constantly on the move, taking this as seriously as possible, pressing, etc.

In addition to this, it seems to me that City fulfills 3 fundamental points that have kept them as Premier League leaders and that have helped them advance in several competitions: they have good mobility, they are precise and decisive.

Finally, I would like to emphasize two crucial points, one of them is Palmer's ability to occupy different positions. Throughout the second half, I don't know if it was a technical decision or his own initiative, Palmer began to move around the field as he pleased, sometimes as a midfielder, sometimes as a winger, sometimes as a false nine, etc. And in all of them, he generated spaces.

Also, I would like to highlight an attitude that, at least from my point of view, was not the best, and I am talking about Gabriel Jesus' attitude when he took the penalty. To be completely honest, it seemed to me that the Brazilian did not take seriously the responsibility that came with being in front of a modest team like Swindon, something that should not be allowed.

I sincerely believe that, if it had been another opponent, with another goalkeeper, Jesus would have simply shot with maximum power to ensure the goal, but as they were not, he chose to be confident and the result was that the goalkeeper stopped his shot.

Key moments

The match was marked by 4 important moments.

- 14’ Bernardo's goal: In all honesty, I think it is more notable for Palmer's assist than for the goal, as the young English player drove a defense crazy and they didn't know how to mark him and that's when the first goal came.

- 28’ Jesus' goal: This moment seems important to me because increasing the lead meant that the team felt much more comfortable on the field and was more precise.

- 82’ Palmer's goal: As I mentioned before, Palmer was undoubtedly the best man of the match with his movements all over the field and his assist, so highlighting the tremendous goal he scored seems fair to me.

- 86’ Kayky's debut with the first team: To tell the truth, this is a moment that every young player dreams of, making his debut with the first team of a club as important as City, so I thought it was also necessary to highlight it.

Players of the Match

Talking about the men of the match I think it's pretty obvious (especially because of the previous mentions) that Palmer was undoubtedly the best player of the team today. This kind of games are where the young players have to show the talent they have to be taken into account more often, and Palmer did it perfectly, so being honest I would like him to have more minutes in the league.

Secondly, I would like to highlight the work of Ake, who during the first half was an absolute headache for the opposing team. Every attacking option they had he countered, in fact, he saved many plays that could have ended in danger.

Finally, there is none other than Rodolfo Borrell, the man who took over the team after Pep and Lillo came out positive for COVID. Borrell played a great game against an opponent that at no time was afraid, plus he gave several youngsters a chance to play at least a few minutes, for which he also needs to be recognized.

Post-match reactions

· Borrell talked about what a great player Palmer is "He's training with us on a daily basis, great quality, everyone is able to see it. He's a great player, still developing quite a lot of talent there and hopefully very soon he can play more minutes, like Phil Foden a couple of years ago.” [via @_joebray]

In addition, Palmer mentioned that he hopes Guardiola enjoyed his big performance.

"Hopefully he [Guardiola] enjoyed it [performance vs Swindon]. Just got to keep showing him what I can do day in, day out."

[via @itvfootball]

Who's next?

Manchester City will face Chelsea next Saturday.