Nothing escapes Pep Guardiola. “Bristol City have already beaten four Premier League sides in this competition,” the Manchester City manager noted beforehand. “That tells me something is going on and we need to be careful.”
Goodness knows what sort of a side Guardiola would come up with if he was being cavalier, then. His safety-first policy here amounted to keeping most of his big-name attackers but reshuffling his defence, perhaps not the wisest policy against adventurous opponents full of confidence and on a hiding to nothing.
Bristol City would have been delighted to see Sergio Agüero left on the http://www.falconsfootballofficialproshop.com/YOUTH+WES+SCHWEITZER+JERSEY bench, and surprised that both Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker were keeping him company, so that Oleksandr Zinchenko could continue where he left off against Burnley on Saturday. That is to say at left-back, just where one would expect to find an attacking midfielder who happens to be Ukraine’s youngest international goalscorer. “I trust all my players to perform,” Guardiola explained. “Even if they are playing in unfamiliar positions.”
Possibly Guardiola has spent the festive period watching repeats of Eric Morecambe at the piano, though however eccentric the methods, his results demand respect. It was still likely to be Bristol City who needed to be careful, whether or not they have something going on. While Lee Johnson’s side have slipped down the Championship table slightly since eliminating Manchester United last month, they still retain realistic hopes of promotion and this is the sort of standard Authentic Nate Stupar Jersey top-flight teams have to live with. Or not, as the case may be. Manchester United have yet to visit the Etihad this season but Bristol City’s three other Carabao Cup victims – Watford, Stoke and Crystal Palace – all foundered here while conceding 15 goals between them.
The visitors can reflect that they outperformed all three and, even if last-gasp heartbreak is also something that goes with Premier League territory, this encounter suggested the divisions within the top flight may be greater than the gulf that separates it from the top of the second tier.
Hordur Magnusson could testify that a class gap nevertheless exists after a couple of minutes, when after being turned inside out by Bernardo Silva on the right touchline, he regained position just in time to see his opponent slip the ball square to an unmarked Kevin De Bruyne. The home’s side captain not only has the knack of finding space almost anywhere on the pitch but using it well, and for the next few minutes he enjoyed himself at the Robins’ expense, whether testing Frank Fielding with a shot disguised as a cross or finding Raheem Sterling with a superb pass from halfway that really should have brought a better response from the England forward.
Yet Bristol City http://www.authenticnikegiantshop.com/Aldrick-Rosas-Jersey did not reach the last four by standing back and admiring opponents, and a glimpse http://www.authenticcardinalsbaseball.com/Authentic-Adam-Wainwright-Jersey of their true character was seen when Jamie Paterson skipped past Ilkay Gündogan in the centre circle as if the German was wading through wet Womens Trumaine Johnson Jersey cement. A few minutes later Joe Bryan set off on a run and produced a diving save from Claudio Bravo. Marlon Pack brought another Bravo stop shortly before the interval as the visitors began to gain encouragement. The reserve goalkeeper is one of the areas where Guardiola’s theory of complete trustworthiness is worth testing, and on this evidence Danilo at right-back might be another, for the defender had trouble all night containing Bryan. Had Paterson made more of one opening he engineered, the underdogs could have been in front even before Bobby Reid’s penalty.
A certain indecisiveness had characterised the home side’s attacking play up to that point, with plenty of possession and opportunity but no one demanding the ball or providing a go-to man in front of goal. Sterling seemed to struggle with the responsibility of being pushed further forward. While much improved this season, his finishing is still far from deadly in situations where one would expect him to score, though he did play an important part Bart Starr Jersey in http://www.goldenstatewarriorsauthentic.com/Womens-Andre-Iguodala-Jersey De Bruyne’ equaliser.
As, to be fair, did the oft-maligned Bravo. A few home supporters must have been peeping through their fingers as the goalkeeper allowed a back pass from John Stones to run across the face of goal before clearing at the last moment under pressure from an opponent, but the eventual clearance found De Bruyne in space and Joseph Young Jersey the invitation was not wasted.
Significantly Walker, as well as Agüero, was on the field by the time the late winner arrived. Both should probably start at Ashton Gate. In cup competitions, after all, one cannot be too careful.
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