|(C) The Mirror|
Allan McGregor – 4
Aside from his error he wasn’t worked particularly hard but made one really fine save from Coady’s deflected shot in the first half. The error is inexplicable. Normally you can suggest the keeper should have been positioned differently, should have punched/kicked/held the ball or made a different decision but this one was just one that you can’t possibly explain. The simplest of catches. I can only assume that he was thinking about what he was going to do with the ball once he’d got it and took his eye off it. It cost two points – without a doubt.
Moses Odubajo – 6
Looked like a winger playing full-back for the most part. Often out of position but able to recover with his pace. City will carry him at full-back because of his attacking threat but that wasn’t evident today.
Michael Dawson – 8
Led incredibly along with Davies. They were always organising. They held a good line against two players with searing pace and made good decisions time and again.
Curtis Davies – 8.1
Just edged it for my Man of the Match. He was at his combative best and seemed to really embrace the challenge of facing two of the best strikers in the league. He saved a goal after fifteen seconds with alert defending and made brave blocks. Back to his best. Just in time for a transfer bid? Cynical, I know.
Andy Robertson – 6
Showed the weaknesses in his game in the first half with his erratic positioning and failure to stop crosses coming in but grew into the game and was alive to danger at the back post. His crossing is “rusty” at the moment but he supported Clucas well down the left.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 5
Easily the quietest game I’ve ever seen him have. Guilty of dallying on the ball in the first minute that should have led to a goal for Dicko and never really recovered. I think he was coming inside to try and make space for Odubajo but he just took himself out of the game. Never an attacking threat.
Tom Huddlestone – 6
Still utterly frustrating. Showed in glimpses in the second half some of the quality in his passing and shooting but it just happens far too rarely. Chased shadows in the first half and didn’t keep possession as well as he can which meant City were often on the back foot. Strikers need to hold on to the ball to allow the team to get out but they can’t if the balls up to them are aimless.
Isaac Hayden – 5
Had a fine debut at home last week but looked naïve today. Never sure of his position, lacked strength in possession and was lucky to avoid another yellow card. There’s a very interesting assessment of Chelsea’s Nathaniel Chalobah in Michael Calvin’s “The Nowhere Men” as an academy player. There was a lot of that in Hayden today. He’s playing at a pace reserved for games that don’t really matter and if he’s going to be successful – he has to learn to play at tempo with quality which the best midfielders do.
Sam Clucas – 6
Recovered from his horrendous early back-pass to put in a real shift on the left. Didn’t always show the required quality and was one of many guilty of making a poor decision to spoil a good attacking opportunity.
Nikica Jelavic – 7
Looked much more like the player we admired so much a year ago. Linked well with Akpom and gave him a few lessons in the art of chasing lost causes. His work in making a golden chance for Akpom late on showed his desire to never give up and excellent skill and vision.
Chuba Akpom – 8
Took a while to get into the game given the complete lack of service early on but made the most of everything he was given with strong running, good technical ability and real urgency. He always wants to make his way towards the penalty area, with and without the ball, and has good goalscoring instincts. Was unlucky not to have scored a winner.
David Meyler – 8
The midfield was crying out for his competitiveness but unfortunately his introduction coincided with McGregor’s flub. He led the recovery, completely changing our mind-set and as well as putting a foot in and tracking back, which you expect, he carried the ball into their half regularly and kept us on the front foot for most of the last quarter of the game. Leaving him out against Fulham on Wednesday would be a massive call now.
Sone Aluko – 7
Another impressive cameo. Brought a freshness to the right hand side and made some vibrant runs that put City on the front foot. He’s another who is pushing for a start but he looks best on the right hand side and competition there is fierce.
Calaum Jahraldo-Martin – n/a
Fantastic to see him get a run out. Showed what he can bring with his pace and worked back as he always does. Just a bit naïve with his decisions in the last third.