Man City vs Stoke Player Ratings

Manchester City took their time to get into the groove but finished with an easy 3-0 win against a timid Stoke side at the Etihad.

Edin Dzeko of Manchester City

By ESPNSTAR.com staff

Stoke defended for all their worth but were undone in the 43rd minute when Pablo Zabaleta was on hand to tap in the ball after James Milner's cross was not properly collected by Asmir Begovic.

The second half was much more comfortable for the Citizens as Edin Dzeko poached on another poor effort by Begovic to stop a shot and Sergio Aguero scored a penalty after the linesman incorrectly flagged for one after David Silva was felled by Steven Nzonzi outside the box.

We rate the best and the worst performers from a game that sees Roberto Mancini's side stay on par with arch-rivals Manchester United ahead of their crucial encounter with Arsenal next week.

Manchester City

Joe Hart - 7.5

The England keeper was rarely troubled and did not have to deal with a single attempt on goal by the Stoke attack in the first half. He had to remain sharp, though, to keep out a fierce Glenn Whelan drive in the second and was a commanding presence inside the box.

Pablo Zabaleta - 8

Zabaleta was industrious and hard-working and was justly rewarded with a goal when the ball came his way two minutes from the end of the first half.

Vincent Kompany - 8

The City captain was a towering force that kept many a cross at bay and made smart challenges to prevent Kenwyne Jones from making much of an impact within the game.

Joleon Lescott - 6.5

Replacing Matija Nastasic, this was the chance for Lescott to earn back his first-team spot but he did not impress as he sought to check the progress of the Stoke attackers with some ill-disciplined challenges. He earned a yellow for his efforts and such wanton defending could prove costly against the Gunners next time around.

Gael Clichy - 7

Although he ventured forward to support the City attack often, Clichy was not able to send in good deliveries that could have afforded the strikeforce a chance to get their names on the scoresheet earlier than the 43rd minute.

Yaya Toure - 7

The Ivory Coast international was participating in his final Premier League game before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations but sent in ambitious yet futile passes into the final third. Furthermore, his shooting was woefully inaccurate and therefore the game was far below the usually high standards expected from the City midfield dynamo.

Gareth Barry - 8

But City's attacking play did not falter as Barry took up the mantle and regularly distributed the ball around to good effect.

James Milner - 7.5

Deputising for the suspended Samir Nasri, Milner was diligent down the wings but his free-kicks were not of the highest order.

David Silva - 7.5

The Spaniard earned a penalty although replays seemed to indicate that he had been fouled outside the box. He did not pose much of a threat as he could not dribble and bamboozle his markers as we know he is capable of doing.

Sergio Aguero (off 77') - 8.5

City could rue the late hamstring injury that forced him out of the game as Aguero single-handedly led the attack in this game and generally demonstrated the determination to make a difference that was found wanting in his team-mates. He definitely deserved his goal and should have scored a couple more as well.

Edin Dzeko (off 92') - 7.5

His goal was a simple finish and largely the product of Milner and Aguero's hard work. He does need to participate in the build-up a bit more often and should be instructed to track back in order to help the transition from defence to attack.

Substitutes

Carlos Tevez (on 77') - 7

Didn't have much time to assert his presence but combined well with his team-mates and helped Hart preserve a clean sheet by holding the ball upfront.

Scott Sinclair (on 82') - N/A

Brought on to inject some freshness towards the end, Sinclair managed to get into troublesome positions and tried his best to impress his manager.

Abdul Razak (on 92') - N/A

Stoke

Asmir Begovic - 4

The Stoke custodian repeatedly fumbled when rising to claim the ball and such sloppiness could have resulted in much more of an embarrassing scoreline for his side.

Geoff Cameron - 5

Much of the attack was focused down his wing and this was not just due to the abilities of Clichy and Silva as Cameron repeatedly allowed the duo to get on his blindside and chart a path to goal.

Ryan Shawcross - 6

The centre-back made some decent challenges but did not closely track Dzeko allowing the Bosnian to be at the right place at the right time to score City's second goal.

Robert Huth - 6.5

The German seemed to have bottled up Aguero in the early exchanges as his physicality seemed too much for the Argentinean. However, as the game went on, he repeatedly lost track of the striker and made some awkward challenges that the City attackers easily managed to skip past.

Andy Wilkinson - 6

The Englishman was one of the few Stoke players that can be happy with his performance as the likes of Zabaleta and Milner were only capable of making an impact by playing in a more central capacity as he regularly blocked their attempts to send in crosses from the right.

Cameron Jerome - 5.5

Working down the right wing, he was not fast enough to exploit Clichy's penchant to go forward and join the attack.

Steven Nzonzi - 6.5

The midfielder will felt hard done by for being penalised as he did not barge into Silva inside the box and it was a hasty call by the linesman to award a penalty against him. To his credit, he did his best to bounce back and help out the defence after the incident and put in a decent performance overall.

Charlie Adam (off 68') - 5

Adam rarely got the ball and, as one of the most creative players in the Stoke side, he really should have demanded it more often within the game.

Glenn Whelan - 6

A fierce drive from 35 yards out notwithstanding, Whelan was rather anonymous throughout the game.

Jonathan Walters - 6

Walters used his large frame to good effect and held the ball up but did not have the creativity or the presence of mind to spot other players in promising positions.

Kenwyne Jones (off 50') - 6

He had a tough shift as the farthest man forward but rarely took opportunities to test Hart's reflexes and was substituted off early into the second half.

Substitutes

Matthew Etherington (on 50') - 6

With service lacking down the wings, Etherington was brought on but he failed to rectify the problem as the City full-backs were disciplined and alert on the afternoon.

Dean Whitehead (on 68') - 6

Brought on to stem the tide of City attacks, Whitehead gave an acceptable performance.



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