No case for the defence
Manchester City owed their victory to some outstanding strikes, but their defence was anything but as time and again they looked shaky at the back.
Much has been written about summer signing Martin Demichelis, and it is becoming abundantly clear that Manuel Pellegrini needs to sign a player who can form an effective partnership alongside Vincent Kompany.
While Matija Nastasic has huge potential, the Blues need another experienced centre-back to ensure they are as impressive at the back as they are further up the field.
The Kompany effect
Despite the issues in City’s defence, Kompany made arguably the biggest positive contribution on the day when he timed his last-ditch challenge on Sunderland’s Fabio Borini to perfection.
With the stiker bearing down on goal and with just Costel Pantilimon to beat to send the Black Cats in at half-time 2-0 up, the Belgian slid in to nick the ball from the feet of the on-loan front-man. And with that, City’s League Cup campaign was significantly altered.
Saved by something special (twice)
City were looking devoid of ideas and Sunderland were holding firm until Yaya Toure curled a sublime effort into the top corner of the net. Given the way the match was going, it was always going to take something special to shake the Blues out of the torpor, and like buses, two outstanding strikes came almost at once.
Samir Nasri’s strike was the pick of the bunch, the way he finished first time with the outside of his foot announcing to everyone watching that he is well and truly back to his best.
The better you are, the luckier you get
With the seconds ticking down, Steven Fletcher had the chance to send the match into extra-time, but instead of tacking a shot first time on his right foot, he attempted to coax the ball on to his left and the chance was lost.
There was also a close call for hand-ball that Yaya Toure (rightly) got away with and along with Kompany’s challenge in the first-half it is fair to say that on another day, Sunderland could have won with relative ease.
image: © Brad Tutterow