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Manchester City Player Ratings vs Chelsea as superb Stones shines


Manchester City got 2023 off to a flying start with an important 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Eyebrows were raised before kick-off when Pep Guardiola opted for an unorthodox formation, deploying a 3-2-4-1, with Joao Cancelo operating as a right-winger with little to no defensive responsibility. The plan was seemingly to isolate Marc Cucurella’s defensive frailties and exploit Chelsea’s left flank.

This culminated in one of the poorest first-half displays from City in recent memory, and when the two sides appeared for the second half, Guardiola decided enough was enough and replaced Kyle Walker and Cancelo for Rico Lewis and Manuel Akanji. For the first thirty minutes of the second half City looked something close to the standards set by the Champions over recent years. The pivotal win for the Blues now sees the gap to leaders Arsenal cut to five points.

Here are my player ratings from the victory at Stamford Bridge:

GK: Ederson- 6/10

The Brazilian’s goal was under siege in the first half and City were lucky to not find themselves 1-0 down at half-time. Ederson made two saves on his way to keeping a clean sheet however his distribution was surprisingly below par, only completing 73% of his attempted passes. The City number one will make way for Stefan Ortega for Sunday’s FA Cup fixture against the same opponent.

CB: Kyle Walker- 5/10

His first appearance in three months and Walker visibly seemed off the pace and especially sloppy in possession. Was hooked at half-time for Rico Lewis as City went from strength to strength after the break.

CB: John Stones- 9.5/10

A perfectly timed challenge on Christian Pulisic in the first half summed up Stones performance. Defensively a juggernaut and truly a unicorn when it comes to a defensive profile within world football. Stones’ ability in the build-up proved a key factor for City all night and the Englishman is arguably playing his best football in a City shirt and is currently unequivocally one of the first names on the team sheet. Imperious.

CB: Nathan Ake- 6/10

Moved from his role as an auxiliary full-back after a lacklustre attacking performance last time out against Everton. A few defensive hiccups and mishaps throughout the ninety minutes, but overall a solid performance from the Dutchman in helping City claim their first clean sheet since a 1-0 victory away to Leicester on October 29th.

CDM: Rodri- 7.5/10

The Spaniard was asked to shift from midfield into the heart of defence to become an auxiliary centre-back, a daunting task that made many City fans ponder the need to do so. However, Rodri did it seamlessly, a true testament to his knowledge and understanding of the game and the roles he finds himself in. City’s number 16 was exemplary in possession once more, completing 93% of his passes and only losing possession seven times. His defensive side was also a key component of his game, winning four tackles, making three clearances and making two interceptions. Solid.

CDM: Bernardo Silva- 6/10

The Portuguese international kept things ticking over without ever probing the home side in an attacking sense. Busy as ever and did well to block Carney Chukwuemeka’s shot to help keep a clean sheet for the Blues. However, the lack of inventiveness from Bernardo over recent weeks is worrying and the constant need to flirt with the idea of leaving has a sense of inevitability about his whereabouts when it comes to the summer window.

RW: Joao Cancelo- 5/10

Cancelo’s role wasn’t too dissimilar to the questionable role given to him by Guardiola in the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in October, in which Cancelo made the fatal error that cost the Blues the game. Deployed as a right-winger, the experiment fizzed out with little success and Cancelo was replaced at half-time. The full-back now faces a tough ask in order to win his place back. A disappointing night.

CM: Ilkay Gundogan- 7/10

City’s captain provided the foundations for the second half and excelled on both sides of the ball in the period of dominance that saw the Champions score the only goal of the game. Despite the limitations the formation and system placed on some of City’s key players, Gundogan provided two key passes and created a big chance as the German looked the most creative of the starters.

CM: Kevin De Bruyne- 6/10

City’s brightest star was not at his dazzling best but showed flickers of what makes the Belgian one of the world’s very best. His ability to receive on the half-turn and drive at the heart of a team’s defence is nothing short of breathtaking. However, De Bruyne’s radar wasn’t quite at the races last night but still provided the pass to Jack Grealish in which the Englishman set up Riyad Mahrez. De Bruyne looks fatigued over the last two outings and a well-deserved rest for Sunday’s FA Cup tie will do the maestro the world of good as the Manchester derby looms.

LW: Phil Foden- 5/10

Many City fans including myself felt vindicated when Foden was given the start and I felt the winger would excel against an ageing Cesar Azplilcueta. Quite the contrary, Foden was sloppy, passive in possession and looked a shadow of the player we have been accustomed to seeing. The substitution for Grealish was justified and Guardiola was proved right when the former Villa captain provided the game-winning assist.

ST: Erling Haaland- 5/10

A rare off day for City’s talisman as he failed to muster a shot on target from his three attempts. Was perilously close to converting an Ilkay Gundogan cross late in the game but the Norwegian just couldn’t quite get there. Like De Bruyne, Haaland will warrant a well-deserved rest for the FA Cup game against Chelsea on Sunday, and Haaland will have his eyes set on returning to the scoresheet as soon as possible and ending his joint longest goal-drought in a City shirt, a mere one game. Haaland is a machine and I have no doubt will be recharged fully for the upcoming pivotal clashes.


Manuel Akanji: 7/10

Calm and assured in possession when brought on at half-time and seemed defensively stable when in the heart of central defence.

Rico Lewis- 8/10

Another big occasion, another big performance from the youngster. Inverted seamlessly yet again and is often the instigator of City attacks with clever one-touch passes. The teenager’s trajectory is only upward.

Riyad Mahrez- 8/10

So often the match-winner for the Blues on big occasions. Mahrez instigated the whole sequence leading up to the goal with a run that was full of purpose and intent, the polar opposite of what City displayed in the first half. The Algerian has now scored 9 goals as a substitute for City in the Premier League, the third most in the club’s history. Difference maker.

Jack Grealish- 8/10

In my Everton player ratings, I described Grealish’s performance as “lethargic and predictable”. Grealish was the antithesis of what I described him as last time out as the former Villa man show purpose and intent, causing more trouble down the left flank and giving Azpilicueta more of a headache than Foden had managed in the entire first half. Grealish also registered his third assist in his last three outings. For the England international to prove his worth in sky blue colours, he needs to continue to affect the game with numbers and be a key figure for City in decisive moments like he was last night. An impressive outing.

Manager: Pep Guardiola- 6/10

City’s maverick manager sprung yet another tactical surprise when deploying the 3-2-4-1, and from very early on in proceedings, many could see the ineffectiveness in Guardiola’s system and Chelsea cut through City’s midfield and was able to bypass the press with relative ease. However, the Spaniard showed why he is so successful yet again and made the switch just after halftime to a more familiar system City controlled the game for large periods of the second half and came away with three points. It is yet to be seen if Guardiola will test the 3-2-4-1 again later on in the season but if the first-half yesterday was a preview, most City fans will be opposed to the idea.

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