Mesut Ozil took a lot of stick last season for a series of performances that were perceived as indifferent. A year later, it looks as though he was simply exhausted from the World Cup in 2014: he is a player transformed now with a summer of rest. With fourteen assists so far and a real ability to steer the flow of any game, Ozil has emerged as Arsenal’s player of the season and is making a case as the MVP for the league overall. With him running the show, Arsenal have a real shot at winning the title.
Arsenal FC via Getty ImagesStuart MacFarlane
No Kompany, no comfort
One of the biggest problems for City this season has been the fragile health of captain and central defender Vincent Kompany. When the Belgian plays, the back four are a cohesive, taut unit. When he doesn’t, City look a mess in the back and lose more often than not. For all the money City have spent, that back line remains a major problem, and if Pellegrini does depart prematurely, people will point to that as a major reason.
Getty ImagesLaurence Griffiths
Aguero was an ask too far
Sergio Aguero made the start Monday – but he probably shouldn’t have. Looking slow and appearing bereft of ideas, Aguero clearly was chucked in too soon against top-quality opposition to influence a game. Fitness was clearly a issue, but you have to question why Pellegrini opted for a player just 75% fit over the speedy and dangerous Raheem Sterling. Did he feel Sterling was a defensive liability?
Getty ImagesCatherine Ivill - AMA
Has Pep unsettled City?
Hanging over the match pre-game were questions over a man who would have no part in Monday’s action. That man, of course, is Pep Guardiola. The current Bayern manager is widely expected to Pellegrini this summer; many reports say a deal has already been struck. (FOX Soccer has reported that Pellegrini is being sounded out by Chelsea.) That news has to have rattled some of City’s players: the intense Guardiola is the opposite of the calm, low-key Chilean.
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Toure can change games with a single play…when he can play
You can see why Yaya Toure remains one of City’s key men: his brilliant strike with eight minutes to play showed how he can turn on the pressure at will. You can also see why he is such a frustrating figure: before that goal, he was barely visible. It looks as if Toure is carrying an injury but the fact remains that if City could get complete games out of him, they would be unstoppable. But they cannot, and they are not.