A point at home never felt so good!
Whether Man City were at it or not, that was an absolutely brilliant effort from all involved and a result we thoroughly deserved, with brilliant strikes from Jetro Willems and Jonjo Shelvey denying the champions; who took the lead twice.
The game started as you would expect. Man City had a huge amount of possession – it was as high as 90% early on – but they were surprisingly passive, slow to move the ball and lacking that killer instinct we’re so used to seeing them have in attack.
That said, we didn’t give them space, we pressed them well in midfield, tracked their runners and were first to every ball in and around the box, yet also carried a threat on the counter, with Saint-Maximin the driving force.
The Frenchman gave Kyle Walker an absolutely torrid time, running rings around the England international. His final product was lacking at times, but one player who finally delivered where it really matters today was Miguel Almiron. Here’s his clever assist to set up Willems’ first-half equaliser:
I never felt like City were banging down the door and about to score, but a moment of magic from Kevin De Bruyne stunned St James’ Park, giving the visitors what felt like the winner – but it wasn’t over.
Jonjo Shelvey – who shocked me for the right reasons with a surprisingly disciplined display – had the last laugh, and his superb late strike from the edge of the box was a moment he deserved after a much improved display in the middle of the park.
I’ve been critical of Shelvey and feared the worst when I say him starting, but today he did the ugly side brilliantly and produced that moment of magic we all know he’s capable of.
Fernandez was monstrous at the back, Dubravka made several game-changing saves, Hayden was everywhere, Willems showed his class once again and Saint-Maximin was a constant thorn in their side.
Joelinton was a handful, despite struggling to hold the ball up at times, while Almiron deserved his assist – his first for the club – and looked visibly more confident after that. Hats off to Manquillo too. The Spaniard has been frozen out at times this season, but he did a brilliant job on Raheem Sterling.
We needed a reaction after Monday’s pitiful effort at Aston Villa and we got one here.
Some will say this City side are a shadow of the side that won the title last season and far too much of a soft touch defensively, but we played a big part in them being so poor at both ends today, staying disciplined throughout while also putting them under pressure at both ends of the pitch.
Next up, Sheffield United on Thursday night!