I then sat back to watch the game hoping that I would be proved wrong. However I was disappointed by how slow we were out of the blocks (a common feature of last season) and it only seemed a matter of time before we went behind to a City side, who, going forward were playing some breathtaking stuff. Seven minutes was all it took and it was a well worked goal created down our right (Antonio not specifically at fault, but if we’d had a proper right back ….). The second goal that we conceded was massively disappointing though. With our three tall centre backs plus Kouyate and Antonio, how could we possibly let in a headed goal from a set piece free kick where the scorer was virtually unchallenged? Also, I’ve written before that possession statistics are not the be-all and end-all, but if you keep giving the ball to the opposition it does make it so much harder to get back into the game.
I was heartened by our second half fightback, the changes made by the manager, Antonio’s headed goal (which meant he has scored more goals with his head than any other Premier League player in the past year), and generally our attempt to draw level. I was disappointed that the referee failed to see the clear holding of Antonio’s shirt at a corner when we were 2-1 down – it just depends which referee is in charge as to whether or not you would benefit from this “clampdown” on holding. Where is Mike Dean when you need him? I was also disappointed with the referee’s failure to spot Aguero blatantly elbowing Reid in the jaw. I will be amazed if Aguero escapes retrospective action for that. On the other hand, Mr. Marriner was particularly lenient with Masuaku, when others might have dismissed him for persistent infringements.
But as I wrote before, we have three points from three games which is identical to our start last season. Normally I hate the interruption of the first international break so close to the start of the new season, but this time I think it will work in our favour. I’ve written a list of eleven players, none of whom started today’s game, who will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up as the season progresses, some sooner and some later. Today was disappointing, yes, but with these players on the sidelines there is good reason to be more optimistic: Randolph, Byram, Obiang, Oxford, Cresswell, Lanzini, Payet, Feghouli, Ayew, Carroll, Zaza.