The Carabao Cup is one step closer to retention as City once again took to the penalty spot to decide a decent match at Leicester City.
With the fans parading a banner showing themselves as “Brothers in Blue” in support of the recent death of the Leicester chairman in a helicopter crash.
Guardiola decided it was a night for experimentation. Although he wants to “win everything”, this trophy will always be last on the list for those fighting on four fronts. Quite why I have never known. I love this competition. If you win it, it gives a trophy in February and often sets you up for the rest of the season. Indeed with all the fun and games in Stretford right now, you will recall that whenever Ferguson was changing his team and the bigger titles looked a bit of a way off, he always bagged the League Cup so he could say he’d won a trophy that season.
Eric Garcia made his debut at centre-back alongside Otamendi and a very accomplished performance it was too. Foden and Diaz played further up the field as they had against Fulham. Leicester are a bit more robust across the back and did not afford them as much space and added to their learning curve.
In addition, we saw the returns to action of Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero. Although Sergio didn’t really get into his stride it took KDB less than a quarter of an hour to deliver a stunning goal where his deft footwork on the edge of the box bamboozled the Foxes defence before drilling one round the keeper, Ward, and into the corner of the net.
Although we expected this to open sort of floodgates against Claude Puel’s restructured outfit, it didn’t quite happen. Stones, playing as a holding midfielder is not as metronomic as Fernandinho and doesn’t get about the pitch as well so he slowed play down a bit too much. Mahrez was too intent on scoring against his old club and let down Aguero, Foden and De Bruyne on occasions being too greedy. Diaz and Foden were forced to make decisions more quickly and sometimes took the wrong ones.
Puel must have fancied this at halftime as Leicester kept the score to 0-1 encouraging the Frenchman to bring on one or two bigger guns in the second half in the shape of Maddison and Albrighton. There had been evidence of space in and around Zinchenko and Albrighton exploited that on 74 minutes, finding to enough space to control a cross and hammer it past Muric to level the scores.
The new format is that a draw on 90 minutes produces a penalty shootout on an A-A basis rather than the A-BB-A basis that was so successful for City last season.
The only blip was a preposterous chip by Sterling which went over the bar. A couple of good stops by Muric and goals by Gundogan, de Jesus and Zinchenko pushed city over the line.
Garcia and Muric both put in excellent performances, looking confident and accomplished. Foden, once again made the ghastly Sun write Neil Custis eat his words. Since the idiot tweeted that Foden has signed up for 6 more years on the bench, he has fulfilled 2 ninety-minute assignments and performed well. He doesn’t look out of place in his esteemed company. As I said, sometimes because Premier League defenders are faster, you defeat them by moving the ball and trying to take on an extra man. Both Foden and Diaz were culpable of that tonight.