At the start of the season, several positions in the Manchester City lineup were up for grabs. Players like Vincent Kompany, Eliaquim Mangala, Jesus Navas, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Bacary Sagna were all unsure about their role in the starting XI heading into the new season. However, these players have risen to the occasion of the immense pressure for playing time and have displayed some of their best football in the early stages of the season. Here is a look at the Manchester City players that have improved their play, knowing that poor form could send them directly to the bench.
More from Game Review
- Manchester City keep unbeaten streak alive with 1-1 draw vs Brighton
- Manchester City march towards the title with 3-0 win over West Ham
- Manchester City “tear cockneys apart again” in masterclass 4-1 Premier League win
- Manchester City produce a professional performance to reach the FA Cup Final
- Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich: the Etihad brought all the Champions League drama
One of the players that has improved the most so far this season is Jesus Navas. The acquisition of Raheem Sterling was expected to send Navas to the bench. However, Manuel Pellegrini has chosen to play Navas on the right side of midfield ahead of Samir Nasri and the Spaniard has made the manager look like a genius. Navas always finds a way to get into positive areas of the pitch, but has earned a reputation for wasting those opportunities. This season, Navas has been able to polish up his deliveries and nearly scored a goal against Chelsea. The pressure for places has seen Navas rise to the occasion.
Another player that was expected to be on the bench, Aleksandar Kolarov has been one of the best players for City so far this season. The left back has benefitted greatly from the addition of Raheem Sterling and the left side of the attack has become a nightmare for opponents. Kolarov was expected to battle Gael Clichy for time, but his play could keep the Frenchman on the bench for the foreseeable future.
A player that was thought to be surplus to requirements on the flanks, Bacary Sagna has played his best football in a Manchester City shirt this season. ESPN FC reports that Sagna earned an eight of ten for his performance against Chelsea. Many believe that once Pablo Zabaleta is fully fit, Sagna will be replaced. However, if Sagna is able to keep players like Eden Hazard silent for ninety minutes, he may force the Argentine to find a comfortable seat on the sidelines.
With experienced veteran Martin Demichelis on the bench, Eliaquim Mangala felt the pressure to perform from Opening Day. Mangala arrived at City on a massive transfer fee and has struggled to adapt the the Barclays Premier League. However, Mangala showed signs of improvement last season alongside Demichelis. This season, the Frenchman has continued to look increasingly comfortable at City, keeping two clean sheets to start the season. With reports that Mangala could be sent out on loan, his recent displays could keep him at City.
Last, but not least, Vincent Kompany has felt the pressure of a place in the starting XI for the first time in his Manchester City career. Some believed that last season was a sign of things to come for the captain, as his play and fitness were far worse than what fans have become accustomed to. Not only has Kompany improved, he has been arguably the best player in the Premier League this season. In two games, the Belgian has led City to back-to-back clean sheets and has scored two goals in the process. Kompany has also been the emotional leader for the club. If Vincent Kompany can return to his elite level among center backs in Europe, the defense for City will not be a weakness for the club this season.