Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARE ; MATCH ANALYSIS CITY 0 NEWCASTLE 2awful Defence, Uninspired Midfield and Struggling Strikers - City Produce a Pre-Derby Horror Show to Make Fans Fearful of Sunday

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

HALLOWEEN NIGHTMARE ; MATCH ANALYSIS CITY 0 NEWCASTLE 2awful Defence, Uninspired Midfield and Struggling Strikers - City Produce a Pre-Derby Horror Show to Make Fans Fearful of Sunday

Article excerpt

CITY'S defence of the Capital One Cup ended with a whimper of a performance.

But the defeat by Newcastle was the least of Manuel Pellegrini's worries as his team now head into Sunday's derby in bedraggled form and with injury doubts over David Silva and Yaya Toure.

Pellegrini paid the price for fielding a strong team as the Spaniard limped off early in the game with a knee problem and he, along with Toure who also suffered a slight knock, will be assessed today.

With his defence look-look ing awful, his midfield uninspired without Silva and his strikers struggling, neighbours United will be relishing the prospect of heading to the Etihad.

That is now three games without a win for City, and the comparisons with Roberto Mancini's final season are becoming more stark. Then, after winning the title, the Blues could not find the pace and tempo to break down opponents, and the same has been true of this side.

And the signings made in the summer of 2012 actually weakened Mancini's squad. The jury is still out on Eliaquim Mangala, Fernando and Bacary Sagna, but on recent showings they have not made City a stronger outfit.

Of course, this could just be a form blip and on Sunday night everyone will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

But that means the Blues need to find solutions - and fast.

The fact City fielded a strong starting line-up was being cited as evidence that Pellegrini was serious about defending the League Cup, maybe out of a sentimental attachment to his first European trophy.

But City's squad these days is a trim one, with little room for sweeping changes, especially as the better elite development squad players are all out on loan - John Guidetti, Karim Rekik, Jason Denayer, Marcos Lopes.

Many fans wonder why Pellegrini does not take a chance on some of his bright young starlets - he handed Jose Angel Pozo a chance in the last round and he scored in a 7-0 rout of Sheffield Wednesday.

From the manager's perspective he has been told he needs to reap five trophies in five years.

But with the derby just days away, the sight of Silva and Yaya Toure in the team and at the mercy of a feisty young Newcastle side who were out to build on their win at Tottenham, fluttered a few City hearts.

The idea was clear from the off as the Blues began at a high tempo - get the game won, then take off the big stars for a rest.

But it was a strategy that cost the Blues. They began in rampaging fashion, and when Silva showed exquisite control and homed in on the visitors' goal, he was clipped from behind by Ryan Taylor.

It was a nothing kind of foul, but as Silva landed his knee opened up slightly. He struggled on for three minutes but was then taken off, replaced by Samir Nasri.

By then City were a goal down. Fernandinho's sloppy pass gave youngster Aarons a sniff of goal, and with Aleks Kolarov and Eliaquim Mangala allowing him free rein, he homed in and fired his shot through the legs of Willy Caballero. …

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