Rating the Manchester City Players in 5th Round FA Cup Tie vs. Leeds United

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIFebruary 17, 2013

Good times for Sergio Aguero and the Citizens against Leeds United.
Good times for Sergio Aguero and the Citizens against Leeds United.Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Had you been told in August that Manchester City's fifth-round FA Cup tie vs. Leeds United at the Etihad might decide Roberto Mancini's fate as manager, you would have laughed at the suggestion.

City brought the whole band back together from last season's thrilling, won-it-at-the-death Premier League top side. Champions League play beckoned, and City figured to play this season with the swagger of becoming of the Premiership's defending champions.

Now look at them.

City is 12 points behind Manchester United. Here are the next five matches for United in the Premiership: at Queens Park Rangers (20th in the Premiership table), Norwich City (14th), at West Ham United (11th), Reading (18th) and at Sunderland (13th).

Maybe United will not get all 15 of those points, but it is hard to imagine United taking fewer than 12 in that span.

So City is left clinging to its hold on second place in the Prem. table and watching the Champions League on television. And Mancini is parrying suggestions of his imminent sacking (via Goal.com); at that, he is more adroit than Joe Hart is with on-target shots these days.

It is odd to say, but City must now look at the FA Cup as its best chance to salvage respectability from an otherwise disappointing campaign.

City's absurdly comfortable 4-0 victory over Leeds United will (probably) buy Mancini a week's peace. Of course, Chelsea is coming to the Etihad in a week, so...

Players rated on a scale of 1 (Gareth Barry's own goal against Southampton) to 5 (Pablo Zabaleta most of this season).

Costel Pantilimon: 3

The giant Romanian kept his string of clean FA Cup sheets intact. He was not called on to do much, but his positioning was sound and you never felt like he was vulnerable.

Pablo Zabaleta: 3

Still energetic, still their best defender. This is a hard match to rate Zabaleta in since, again, Leeds United rarely threatened.

Kolo Toure: 3

This is precisely the sort of match Kolo Toure is suited for these days. From today's performance you can see how dominant he would be in the Championship. That is not a compliment.

Matija Nastasic: 3.5

The youngster continues to benefit from comparison to the other transfers who came in at the same time. He is so much better than Maicon, for instance, that you must wonder why Maicon is here at all.

Aleksandar Kolarov: 3.5

After some desultory efforts, Kolarov looked very good in this one. Several on-target deliveries and rarely dispossessed in space, Kolarov's steady play allowed Yaya Toure and David Silva to pin their ears back and charge forward.

Yaya Toure: 4

Horses for courses, it seems. Yaya loves to play in the FA Cup. His tally in the sixth minute was spectacular. It also eased all the nerves anyone wearing sky blue might have felt about City's recent form. Leeds United never looked in the match after Yaya's strike.

Javi Garcia: 2.5

Is Garcia a holding midfielder? Is he better going forward? Mancini does not know and neither does anyone else. At this point, one wonders how much Garcia would have played if Jack Rodwell had not started so poorly, then missed so much time while injured. Rodwell may see more time going forward if today is any indication.

James Milner: 3

Just OK today from Milner. Given the fireworks around him, that was all that was needed.

Carlos Tevez: 4

So nice to see Tevez active and productive again. His absence at Southampton was certainly noticeable, and his presence today was felt. Tevez and Aguero really enjoy playing together. They were a lethal combination against Leeds United.

David Silva: 4

We saw well-weighted passes in small spaces from Silva again today. City will need this sort of performance next week against Chelsea; their midfielders will certainly present more of a challenge.

Sergio Aguero: 5

Too quiet in recent times, Aguero exploded in this cup tie with two goals and a beautiful assist on Tevez's tally. Had City chosen to funnel all its action to Aguero, it felt like he might have had as many goals as he liked.

Jack Rodwell (60th minute for Garcia): 3.5

Maybe it is just Garcia's indifferent presence, but seeing Rodwell come on for him felt like an actual benefit as opposed to change for change's sake. Rodwell was a bit unlucky to see his header come back off the underside of the bar, but the result was well in the books by then anyway.

Maicon (64th minute for Tevez): 3.5

Maicon's status as a place-keeper on this roster is surely not what he hoped for when he came to the Etihad. That is all he is for this side, though.

Edin Dzeko (81st minute for Aguero): 3

It will be very interesting to see whether Dzeko sees more time against Chelsea. The way Aguero and Tevez partnered in this match, it is hard to see him finding his way into the XI. One might have figured that Mario Balotelli's departure would mean more run for Dzeko. But Balo is rifling goals home in Italy now and Dzeko is still on the outside looking in at the Etihad. Pity.

Leeds United fans: 5

 Six thousand strong, the traveling support for Leeds United probably made more noise on City's ground than the home fans did. Good on them.


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