|Passes (% accurate)||17/21 (81%)|
|Shots (on target)||5 (0)|
|Crosses (successful)||2 (1)|
|Dribbles (successful)||2 (1)|
In Manchester City’s seismic 4-1 demolition of neighbours United there were several outstanding performers, so why have I chosen the Beast of Vallecas as the Carslberg EPL Player of the Week? Well let me explain. You see we already knew that on his day Samir Nasri can pull the strings in midfield, we know that Vincent Kompany is the glue that holds City’s backline together, we are aware that Aleksandar Kolarov is a force when driving up the left-wing, and we know that Sergio Agüero is an elusive forward with deadly finishing; but we had yet to find out how dominant Álvaro Negredo could be leading the line in the EPL.
For City’s biggest game so far under new boss Manuel Pellegrini the Spaniard was preferred to Edin Džeko as the partner for Agüero, and throughout his 75 minutes on the pitch it was crystal clear as to why this was. His work rate throughout was phenomenal, never giving an unsettled United backline any time as he harried and harangued them. Not only did he put the effort in, but he stood up to the usually rock solid pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić, posing them a physical challenge of which Džeko would never have been capable of.
Vidić, almost universally considered to be one of the league’s best defenders was unable to cope with Negredo throughout, and was never more apparent than for City’s third goal. Making an intelligent run across the box to split the central defensive pairing, in one motion Negredo easily held off Vidić and spun, crossing the ball for Agüero to finish off the game.
The Serbian defender was not the only one to struggle with Negredo. In the second half watching him hold off Ferdinand when on the ball, like the big kid at school playing keep away with the weedy small kid, was a sight to behold. Chris Smalling, who also struggled throughout, was another who was unable to match him physically, as demonstrated for City’s second goal and Negredo’s first assist. Here he convincingly out jumped the right-back to knock the ball down, allowing Yaya Toure to sweep home and alter the entire complexion of the match.
The only thing missing from the forwards performance was a goal from his five attempts. But such a physical striker, with good movement, great feet and an impressive work rate will surely add to the two goals he already has before too long.
As damaging a result as this was for United, it is too early to say that such a result make or break either teams season. As great as City were yesterday, those who witnessed their performances against Hull City and Stoke City will realise that this team is one that can lack consistency from game to game. Negredo was dominant against United, capably assisted by the likes of Nasri, Kolarov, Agüero, Toure and Ferdandinho; but for City to reclaim the EPL crown performances such as this must become the norm and not the exception.