Does Jovetic deserve Barca start after FA Cup masterclass?

Stevan Jovetic playing for Montenegro

The summer signing's progress at the Etihad Stadium has been checked after a spate of injuries but he is finally beginning to come to the fore.

Arsenal were extensively linked with a move for a man billed as the next Roberto Baggio at Fiorentina but it was Manchester City who took the gamble, a £22m one at that.

Given the lavish expenditure on show at the Etihad Stadium in the summer, expectations were dampened somewhat with the Montenegrin just one of many big-money recruits but having impressed so much in Serie A and, given his young age, City fans were right to be excited by his acquisition.

Sadly, then, the 24-year-old's maiden season in England has been dominated more by his prolonged spells on the injury table than the sort of goalscoring exploits expected of a man bracketed in the same class as a former Italian legend.

But City's plunge into the market finally looks like it may be vindicated after all, with Jovetic going one step closer to paying back the fee placed above his head with an excellent cameo against Chelsea on Saturday in the FA Cup.

The 2-0 win, teed up by Jovetic's expertly-taken opener, gained revenge for City on the side that had beaten them at Eastlands just 12 days previously and reinforced their status as one of, if not solely, the most potent sides in the country.

Liverpool, arguably, would fancy their chances of winning that competition but their profligacy in defeat at Arsenal suggested otherwise. City were dominant against the Blues and clinical too, with Jovetic's contribution serving to underscore the attacking riches Manuel Pellegrini has to work with.

Pellegrini faces his biggest task so far as City manager when his side tackle Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday night, a task made all the more difficult by the absence of Sergio Agüero from the starting lineup.

Alvaro Negredo - allegedly not fully fit in recent weeks - is expected to lead the line but it is who he will partner against the La Liga giants that poses a tangible question mark for Pellegrini.

The Chilean has opted primarily for Edin Dzeko in recent times and the Bosnian actually partnered Jovetic on Saturday but the latter's goalscoring display offered food for thought to the manager, who faces a selection headache.

The idea of the speedy, nimble and effervescent Jovetic dovetailing with a physical presence in Negredo is certainly something that excites in comparison to fielding a fellow target man in Dzeko alongside the Spaniard.

Interestingly enough, the statistics below all point towards Dzeko providing the greater goal threat, something City will surely come to rely on if they are to see off Barca, with the Bosnian registering more attempted assists and shots on goal than Jovetic, but it does not necessarily mean he is the most nerveless in front of goal.

Dzeko has hit the target with 31% of his 3.37 shots on average per match, whereas Jovetic has attempted just 1.83 and come out with a 45% success rate in terms of testing the goalkeeper.

It has to be weighed into the debate that the Montenegrin has made considerably less appearances. Just six, in fact, against the 19 of Dzeko but what the former La Viola attacker does offer is a desire to get at defenders and take them on. 

He averages 2.17 contests per appearance in contrast to the 0.95 of Dzeko and comes out on top percentage wise - amassing 69%, with Dzeko well behind with 44%. 

His dive on Saturday - just moments before his withdrawal - was the only notable error on an otherwise faultless display and, ironically, stemmed from taking on David Luiz before hurling himself to the floor under little to no pressure.

Pellegrini may toy with us all and elect to field a five-man midfield to combat Barca's monopolisation of possession but Jovetic certainly provides another option for the City manager, who must delight in the quality his side holds in the attacking third.

NameTeamPosTotal Att Assist / appsTotal Scoring Att / appsOntarget Scoring Att / appsAtt Hd Total / appsAtt Lf Total / appsAtt Rf Total / appsTotal Contest / appsWon Contest / appsAppsMins
Edin Dzeko Man City FW 0.63 3.37 1.05 1.00 1.11 1.26 0.95 0.42 19 1,071
Stevan Jovetic Man City FW 0.33 1.83 0.83 0.33 0.33 1.17 2.17 1.50 6 226

image: © Илья Хохлов

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