There it is. The fixture that has kept many fans awake with fear over the past few weeks is out of the way and nowhere near as bad as anyone imagined. I must admit, upon seeing City’s teamsheet I thought back to how they brutally swept aside teams like Burton and Rotherham in the past and I was preparing for an equally brutal defeat.
Blues had a nightmare start as Bernardo Silva lashed a volley into the roof of the net after a poor clearance from Clarke-Salter after just 8 minutes. Just 7 minutes later Silva doubled the lead after a brilliant 24 pass move that one could only applaud no matter what team they supported. The gulf in class between Blues and City was very clear as Mahrez, De Bruyne and Foden were opening up the defence as easy as a can of tuna. Foden scored another brilliant goal for the Cityzens in the 33rd minute as he found the bottom corner. The defending for Foden’s goal left little to be desired as 4 red shirts stood in front of him and none managed to get a block on the shot.
The first half was definitely worrying and Blues could consider themselves lucky not to go in further behind as Mahrez and Jesus came inches away from getting on the score sheet. Karanka changed to 5 at the back to try and secure the defence and brought on Roberts and Clayton. During the second half Blues really began to step up their game. City were no longer creating clear cut chances, although, it could be argued that De Bruyne coming off also played a part in City’s lack of clear chances during the second half. They continued to dominate possession but didn’t do much with it apart from a gilt-edge chance for Silva to complete his hat-trick which he put wide of the post from close range. It seemed like City did eventually break through the defence when Riyad Mahrez thumped the ball past Prieto but he was controversially deemed to be offside. Later in the half, Jeremie Bela and Jutkiewicz joined the action and then Blues seemed much more on the front foot. Bela constantly wanted the ball and although Leko also wanted the ball frequently in the first half he was often trying to do too much with it which led to a loss of possession. Bela had some cracking shots, one landing on the roof of the net, one narrowly going wide and then a powerful one that Steffan spilt into Jutkiewicz’s path who just put it wide. It wouldn’t have counted anyway as he was just about offside.
There were definitely positives to take away from the second half. The players could’ve given up and conceded another 5 but they put a good shift in. Nobody expected us to go through against -from my point of view- the best team in the country but we didn’t embarrass ourselves. Roberts had fans groaning on Twitter as he came onto the pitch but he had a very solid half and even managed to keep Phil Foden quiet as well as outpacing and outmuscling him in a 1v1 situation. We created chances such as a lovely move down the right involving Colin and Sanchez that made things awkward for Steffan as well as Bela’s huge contribution although he didn’t play for most of the game. Next, we face Middlesbrough at the Riverside. We finished that second half on a high and we need to try and take that momentum with us. The league table doesn’t lie; we are in a very poor position and our next 3 games are all winnable if we maintain concentration levels and play with confidence.