The Capital One Cup semi-final triumph can be the turning point in Manchester City’s season.
City booked their place at Wembley with a 4-3 aggregate Capital One Cup semi-final win over Everton on Wednesday night. It gives Manuel Pellegrini’s side their first opportunity of winning some silverware this campaign.
And it could be the turning point in what has been a fairly inconsistent season for City, who currently find themselves second in the Premier League having accrued 44 points.
The Citizens are still in a promising position and are only three points adrift of league leaders Leicester City, but they have heavily relied upon slip-ups from those around them.
However, the dramatic win over Everton can be the catalyst for the rest of the season and set City on their way to success.
Again City made work of it. There was a clear foul on Sergio Aguero in the build-up to Everton’s goal but they allowed Ross Barkley far too much space and he punished City with a fine finish, giving the visitors a 3-1 aggregate lead.
To their credit; though, City improved their tempo and got their reward when Fernandinho levelled matters with a deflected strike.
Aguero was a lively presence throughout and went mightily close for City with a sublime effort that cannoned off the post, before David Silva couldn’t quite prod home the follow-up.
In the second half, it was Silva’s turn to strike the woodwork with a header from a Pablo Zabaleta cross. At this point, it didn’t look like it would be City’s day.
But Pellegrini; who has had a great deal of criticism this season for his questionable tactics, got it right on the night and deserves praise for the alterations he made.
Normally one to go for a like-for-like substitution; the Chilean mixed things up by bringing Jesus Navas on for Fabian Delph. The England international had worked tirelessly but City needed to stretch Everton and Navas did just that.
Even more interesting was his decision to haul off Yaya Toure in place of Kevin De Bruyne. Yet it proved to be a masterstroke as City had that added quality in attack – evidence being that De Bruyne would then contribute enormously to the final result.
First he slotted home City’s second, a goal that stirred up a fair bit of controversy after replays showed Raheem Sterling did indeed run the ball out.
But the third needed little luck as De Bruyne swung in an exceptional cross that was greeted by Aguero’s neat header, which sent City fans into dreamland.
Supporters were then quickly brought back down to Earth when De Bruyne picked up a nasty injury. But nothing could take the gloss off a trip to Wembley!
A number of games this season had been heralded as potential turning points, with the late showings against Borussia Monchengladbach and Watford coming to mind.
But Wednesday’s feat should give City great confidence going forward. They demonstrated great character and deserved to win, scoring three times and hitting the post on two occasions.
The current campaign feels very similar to Pellegrini’s debut season with the club. The 2014 Capital One Cup final success helped City massively, eventually going on to capitalise upon Liverpool’s slip-ups to clinch their second Premier League title.
City fans will be hoping that captain Vincent Kompany is back sooner than expected to marshal the backline, although De Bruyne is likely to be out for around six to ten weeks in what is a big blow.
Since their excellent five-match winning streak at the start of the season; City have struggled for consistency. But after booking their place at Wembley, now is the time for City to click again.
A tough run of games awaits the Citizens, but the manner in which they overcame Everton should give them a boost in their bid to rediscover their normal level of performance.