City lacking Hart against Stoke while United stifled by Burnley
As long as Joe Hart is in goal, Manchester City, 6/1 to win the FA Cup this season, are beatable. The England international showed against the Potters, just why he is nowhere near to being the best goalkeeper in the world.
His failure to cover the near post as Mame Biram Diouf closed in on goal was an error of schoolboy proportions, and one that when the end of the season comes, could cost City dearly. A defeat to Stoke City brought the champions crashing down to earth with a bump. Mark Hughes, the visiting manager against his former employers, wanted this significantly more than the home side.
Setting up to defend and frustrate, City strikers Stevan Jovetic and Sergio Aguero couldn’t craft clear-cut chances, with Ryan Shawcross and Marc Wilson resolute at the back, and Steven N’Zonzi and Glen Whelan putting in battling performances in the centre of midfield.
Diouf’s goal epitomised Stoke’s speed on the counter-attack and City’s nonchalance in defence. As Diouf picked up the ball in his own half he skipped through a number of half-hearted challenges, before knocking the ball around Vincent Kompany as though he wasn’t there. Hart, however seemed like a rabbit caught in headlights with the striker bearing down on him. Maybe he expected his captain to clear away any danger, so didn’t think to set himself. Or, maybe it is just one mistake too many.
Across at the other half of Manchester, United have problems of their own. Still without a win from three games, they need players badly, after a goalless draw away at Burnley. New record signing Angel di Maria was the stand-out player, showing just why he is one of the best in the World. However, he’s going to take time to gel, and cannot be expected to acclimatise quickly to a league with a physical style that he isn’t used to.
Chelsea’s 6-3 thumping of Everton at Goodison Park fired a warning out to the rest of the Premier League. Jose Mourinho is back, and he means business. While Arsenal could only manage a 2-2 draw there last time out, City, Liverpool, and certainly United will also struggle. The Blues however, showed just why they are a class above every other team, and boast odds of 7/1 to win the Champions League.