Wilfried Bony was purchased by Manchester City for £25m during the January transfer window and for many observers it seemed like an astute signing. In his two seasons for Swansea, he scored 34 goals in 70 appearances, so he was proven in the Premier League. When he first signed for Swansea the Ivorian was very good in front of goal, but lacked in other areas of his game. However, as the 2013/14 season progressed, he started to become more efficient in his link-up play and was starting to use his superior upper-body strength. This posed a lot of problems to opposing defenders, not only was Bony good in the air, but he also became a threat with the ball at his feet. This is the striker City thought they were buying but it hasn’t worked out for him so far. He has played five times for the defending champions and has failed to score, although these appearances have been off the bench. But what has been more worrying is that even in those cameos’ he has had a negative effect rather than a positive one often given away cheap fouls, or losing possession of the ball. But he does offer something completely different to all the other number nines City possess. He demonstrated some of those attributes against West Brom bullying their defenders, linking the play together, and also finishing with aplomb.
Despite the win, City’s poor form recently has dragged them into the top-four race. This was an unexpected turn of events, especially considering the squad they have at their disposal. However, for a number of reasons things have gone wrong for them and one of them is down to their star players. Yaya Toure isn’t the force he was last season, and has been playing more as an orthodox holding player. Toure’s passing ability is actually very good – it is one of the more under-rated facets of his game, but he is still vulnerable in that position defensively. His positioning can be wayward and as Gary Neville pointed out on Monday Night Football, he has also been guilty of walking around the pitch rather than pressing the opposition. Another issue has been with David Silva who hasn’t been able to dictate the tempo of as many games this season as he would have liked – he is another player who has been guilty of ambling around the pitch rather than doing a job defensively. Sergio Aguero – while scoring plenty of goals – has again had his injury problems. Manuel Pellegrini has needed his world-class players in the last few weeks and they haven’t delivered. They are out of the Champions League, out of the FA Cup, and seemingly out of the title race. It is hard to envisage the Chilean being in the job next season – particularly if you look at the way billionaire-owners tend to deal with under-achievers.
A poor back-pass by Gareth McAuley put Bony through on goal, which forced Craig Dawson into a last-ditch challenge. For some reason Paul Swarbrick decided to send off McAuley after 89 seconds but this decision ended the game as a contest. It became attack versus defence with Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy pushing so high up the pitch – they almost became wingers. West Brom retreated very deep after being reduced to ten-men and they had no outlet going forward. Saido Berahino dropped back to try and help the Baggies defensively but when they looked to spring counter-attacks, he was unable to hold the ball up. This allowed City to dominate possession, and as a result they created an incredible amount of chances. The major talking point will be Swarbrick though as this isn’t the first time a referee has sent someone off for mistaken identity, it happened in the United game with Wes Brown seeing red, and also Kieran Gibbs was sent-off last season when it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who handled the ball against Liverpool.
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