Sunday 22 October 2017

Aguero quality dominates in City's tale of two Argentines

Manchester City 3 West Brom 1

Pablo Zabaleta brings his son onto the pitch for a farewell to the Etihad Stadium. Photo: Reuters
Pablo Zabaleta brings his son onto the pitch for a farewell to the Etihad Stadium. Photo: Reuters

James Ducker

Manchester City fans came to give one popular Argentine a warm send-off but were left salivating over the enduring brilliance of another whom they will hope has not also just played his last game for the club at the Etihad Stadium.

Pablo Zabaleta bade an emotional farewell to the club he has served with distinction for nine years but no one has made as big an impact on the modern-day City as Sergio Aguero, who provided a timely reminder of how foolhardy Pep Guardiola would be to dispense with the striker's services this summer.

Manchester City's David Silva shrugs off West Brom's Claudio Yacob. Photo: Getty Images
Manchester City's David Silva shrugs off West Brom's Claudio Yacob. Photo: Getty Images

Victory leaves City almost certain to finish in the top four barring an extraordinary turn of events on Sunday, when Guardiola will hope to seal third place.

Zabaleta was named man of the match only 14 minutes after coming on in a sentimental nod to the right-back, who will join West Ham next month, but the real influencer here was Aguero. He played an integral role in all three goals on a night when he showed how he is so much more than simply a predator par excellence, bamboozling with his movement and quick-thinking a West Brom side who got a consolation through Hal Robson-Kanu late on.

The man tipped as Aguero's long-term replacement, Gabriel Jesus, claimed his sixth goal in seven Premier League starts but it seems illogical that two players of such gifts cannot form a potent attacking combination next season. Some players are not easily replaced and Aguero is one of them.

Yet when City overwhelm opponents, as they did here during a devastating passage in the first period en route to scoring two sublime goals, it makes you wonder why they have disappointed so often this term. Guardiola alluded to as much this week, when he suggested some players had fallen short of expectations. But they signed off in style here.

Yaya Toure celebrates scoring Manchester City's third. Photo: Getty Images
Yaya Toure celebrates scoring Manchester City's third. Photo: Getty Images

If this is what City fans can expect next season, they should make a significant better fist of things. Unpicking a side who plonk nine men behind the ball is rarely straightforward, even if City made it look so.

Aguero helped to fashion the opening goal with a piece of sheer impudence. Dragging Craig Dawson out of position to create space for Kevin De Bruyne to run in behind, Aguero motioned to receive the ball from Yaya Toure and then played a delicious back heel into the path of De Bruyne. The Belgian crossed, the ball taking the slightest deflection off Jonny Evans, before Jesus tapped into an empty net.

Less than two minutes later, it was 2-0 and Aguero was in the thick of it again, collecting Vincent Kompany's pass and sparking a quick interchange with Sane before the ball fell for De Bruyne. It has been an indifferent season for the midfielder but his finish was the work of a genuine talent. After Toure got the third in the second half came Zabaleta's long-awaited introduction and a flurry of missed chances from City. This was most definitely a tale of two Argentines. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

West Brom's Jake Livermore and Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus challenge for the ball. Photo: Getty Images
West Brom's Jake Livermore and Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus challenge for the ball. Photo: Getty Images

Telegraph.co.uk

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