Man City didn’t look good in FA Cup win at Bristol but they’re still treble favourites
Phil Foden scored twice in a rare start for Manchester City on Tuesday as Josep Guardiola’s side reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 3-0 win against EFL Championship side Bristol City at Ashton Gate in Bristol, England.
Foden, overlooked in recent weeks in favor of Jack Grealish and Riyad Mahrez, scored City’s first two goals before Kevin De Bruyne made it 3-0 in the 81st minute.
1. Man City looks unconvincing, but don’t bet against them
Ask most Manchester City fans and they will tell you that the performances of Pep Guardiola’s team this season have been the least impressive since the former Barcelona and Bayern manager’s first campaign in 2016-17, when the team failed to win a trophy .
Those fans are probably right considering the heights Man City have reached since that season, but after winning Ashton Gate they are still alive in three competitions and it would be foolish to assume they will fail in any of them. them.
You won’t hear much talk of a treble at Etihad right now, even though City are in the FA Cup quarter-finals right now, but make no mistake, Guardiola’s team can still win all three trophies. They are just two points behind Premier League leaders Arsenal and play at home in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 against RB Leipzig 1-1 in the first leg.
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Yes, City are not playing very well and were inconclusive for a while, but this win showed why they can still achieve the treble.
Rarely starts these days, Phil Foden scored twice for Guardiola, while Calvin Phillips and Julian Alvarez also got a chance to impress. City have such depth that they can make changes, start with Erling Haaland, Jack Grealish and Rodri on the bench and still win.
Their recent trophy-winning pedigree makes them favorites to win the FA Cup, and history shows that the top team doesn’t always win the Champions League, so fickle City can still win the competition. And it would be ironic if, after so many years of dominating the rest, they finally won the Champions League, although this time they were not so formidable.
2. Despite the goal, De Bruyne still stuck in post-World Cup crisis
Kevin De Bruyne has been one of the best midfielders ever to play in the Premier League, but the 31-year-old has struggled to bounce back from a post-World Cup slump. His goal in the 81st minute of this victory was a classic for De Bruyne, but this should not hide his average game.
Returning from an early elimination for Belgium in Qatar 2022, De Bruyne has only scored two goals in 13 appearances and has rarely shown the kind of power that has become his hallmark in the Man City shirt.
Against Bristol City, all the usual effort and dedication was on display, but there were only brief glimpses of the quality he possesses despite facing a side currently in the middle of the EFL Championship table.
De Bruyne missed last week’s Champions League game against RB Leipzig in Germany due to illness, and he was also benched following a loss to Tottenham earlier this month, so there are factors mitigating his performance below denominations in recent weeks. But after more than a decade at the top with Wolfsburg and City, de Bruyne looks jaded.
With City still striving for success on three fronts, Guardiola will need De Bruyne back to his best form when the decisive games take place in April and May. So maybe it’s time to give De Bruyne a break to recharge his batteries so he’s fresh and ready to train.
3. Bristol City show that there is young talent outside the Premier League
Alex Scott is a name worth paying attention to. The Bristol City midfielder is only 19 years old, but he may have been the best player against the Premier League champions.
Rolling up his socks on his shins and having the urge to run at opponents, Scott looks and plays like £100m Manchester City star Jack Grealish, who was on the bench for this match.
But he also showed that he has the guts to take the ball and look for loopholes further ahead. When the best clubs are looking for players, one of the most important qualities any young player should have is the willingness to be brave enough to go forward rather than being cautious by passing backwards or sideways, and Scott has always looked ahead.
Scott hails from the tiny island of Guernsey in the English Channel, as does Southampton great Matt Le Tissier, and the youngster clearly has a bright future in the game.
The same can be said for Sam Bell, another homegrown Bristol City star who was impressive at 20.
Few Premier League teams favor the lower levels of English football when looking for new players, as they now prioritize the European or South American leagues. But Scott and Bell proved against City that there is plenty of talent in England to watch outside of the Premier League.
Best and Worst Performers
Best: Phil Foden, Manchester City.
The Manchester City winger has rarely started at Ashton Gate, but he has more than justified his choice and done enough to suggest he should start more often. Scored the decisive goal and offered many threats.
Best: Alex Scott, Bristol City
The Bristol City player is only 19 but was the best midfielder on the pitch despite facing so many internationals at Manchester City.
Best: Sam Bell, Bristol City
Man City defenders will not forget the Bristol City forward in a hurry. The 20-year-old was constantly pressing, and he simply did not have the finishing touch to score against the home team.
Worst: Julian Alvarez, Manchester City.
He may have won the World Cup with Argentina, but back at the club, Alvarez had to do more to convince Pep Guardiola that he was more than just an international.
Worst: Ederson, Manchester City.
The goalkeeper played only in the second half, replacing Stefan Ortega at half-time, but he was unstable and almost gave the home team two goals.
Worst: Nucky Wells, Bristol City
It was hard to score against City’s defense, but the Bermudian forward needed to do more to make life difficult for Guardiola’s defenders.
Highlights and Notable Moments
Phil Foden gave Manchester City the lead in just seven minutes, allowing his team to play most of the game.
Well crafted @ManCity move completed @PhilFoden 🤩#EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/xpVvHOAdJv
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 28, 2023
Foden returned after 67 minutes and again delivered a great pass to Julian Alvarez.
The goal marked his fifth game with multiple goals for Manchester City in all competitions.
Helped 🏡@ManCity #EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/ezpaaJQQlb
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) February 28, 2023
After the match: what coaches and players said
Post match quotes will appear here when available. Please check back later…
Key statistics (provided by Sportzshala Stats & Information research)
This is Manchester City’s fifth consecutive appearance in the FA Cup quarter-finals. The previous four times have reached this round, they reached at least the semi-finals.
The loss ended Bristol City’s 12-game unbeaten streak in all competitions. It was their longest streak of 15 games in 2018/19.
Bristol City: The Robins return to league play with games at Cardiff City (March 4) and Huddersfield Town (March 7). They will then host Blackpool on March 11 (Live on Sportzshala+ at 7:30 AM ET).
Manchester: The Nationals will host Newcastle United in a Premier League game on Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 AM ET. They will then visit Crystal Palace next week for the league game on Saturday 11 March.