West Bromwich Albion 1 - Manchester City 2

Date: Wednesday 20th September 2017 
Competition: Carabao Cup (R3)
Foster 8.3, Nyom 6.9, Evans 7.0, McAuley 5.8 (Phillips, 62 7.5), Dawson 5.8, Gibbs 7.0, Morrison 5.5, Krychowiak 6.8, Yacob 6.5 (McClean, 80 6.1), Robson-Kanu 5.5, Rodriguez 5.5 (Rondón, 67 6.9)
Unused subs: Myhill, Barry, Hegazi, Field
Manager: Tony Pulis 6.0
Man City:
Scorers: Yacob (72)
Referee: Mike Jones (Chester) 6.1
Attendance: 14,953   Home Fans 6.6   Away Fans 6.9

Brendan Clegg:

An enjoyable and entertaining game and in the end I thought we were unlucky not to nick it.

Having been moved from the Smethwick I took a position directly behind the home bench - close enough to look down onto James McClean's head as he glugged a couple of cans of Red Bull.

It was interesting to see just home much like a Sunday league manager Pulis behaves, how little notice players seem to take of him during games and how funny Gary Megson finds it when we win set plays in the final 3rd through creative theatrics or buying fouls. Time and again he turned to the bench with a big grin on his face, chuckling away or covering his eyes when this happened.

As will have been widely reported - we got absolutely battered in the first half and the movement and touch passing of City was fantastic. Foster, fortune and some last ditch challenges kept us in it. Dawson, McAuley and one or two others were simply not good enough on the ball to keep us out of trouble.

I thought both the system and players were wrong. We all know that 3-5-2 for us really means 5-5-0 and we simply couldn't escape out wide and had zero pace up front. I'd have gone 4-5-1 with Phillips and McClean wide and Rondon up front to stretch them. It is absolutely critical against teams like City and Arsenal, who push their fullbacks up so high, that if you win the ball back you can keep it and quickly play it into the defensive channels that they vacate and attack them with pace.

In fairness to Pulis, this might have been the plan all along and he might well have gone out with the intention of keeping us in the game up to 60 minutes and then adopting this tactic. But it's pretty much what he did with the introduction of Phillips, Rondon and McClean in stages.

It certainly worked for us - apart from the corner goal we also created some really good chances. HRK sliced wide when he was 10 yards out with time to take a touch and hammer it home. Mozza undid some great work by missing an absolute sitter from about 7 yards by toe-poking wide instead of passing the ball into the bottom corner and right at the death HRK hit the outside of the post after deflection put him clean through with time to spare.

Sane's goal was a stunning finish but he should probably have been sent wide - easy to say when you're not playing against him. What a player.

So overall despite the disappointment in losing we can hold our heads high and take pride and positives form the 2nd half. This was also a decent rehearsal for the Arsenal game as they play with a similar style but do not have as many good players as City and are more vulnerable to counters.

  • Foster - 8 No chance with the goals, kept the score down with some fantastic saves.
  • Dawson - 6 He looked better in a 4. Terrible on the ball first half but kept at it.
  • McAuley - 6 Did OK. I thought it was a bit harsh throwing him into a game against City with only 45 mins for the under 21s in his legs. Rusty but gave it a go.
  • Evans - 6 Did pretty well defensively and so good on the ball as we know.
  • Nyom - 7 His pace was very useful and he had a right go all game.
  • Greg - 5 I thought he was anonymous first half and his set pieces were terrible. He did get better, but looked miles away from full fitness.
  • Mozza - 6 Covered loads of ground and was our best player first half. Stuck at it. Has that something that always gets him a chance a game but has missed 3 sitters in the last 3 games. Problem we have is anyone else we put in this position either doesn't get the chances or doesn't work as hard. We need to get Chadli fit.
  • Yacob - 6 Had a go and is such a competitor. Loved his goal. Made way due to tactics not his performance which was pretty good.
  • Gibbs - 7 I thought he was very good again. Great set plays, very quick, made the right decisions and I thought did a very solid job defensively which is the bit everyone thinks he needs to work on.
  • JRod- 5 Miles off it. Looks a bit lost and bit heavy. Maybe needs a break or a try in the Morrison role.
  • HRK - 5 Was doing nothing until we got fast wingers on and Rondon runnign in behind then came into it. Should have scored a couple.
  • Phillips - 7 Changed the game really. Caused them big problems and made them panic.
  • Rondon - 7 Looked a lot better, forced them to retreat deeper. With the right players and system I still think he is our best available option overall.
  • McClean - 6 Gave us legs, effort and some basic run-and-cross as he always does.