After sealing his summer switch to Eastlands, Nicolas Otámendi has settled into life in Manchester well – and his display on Saturday afternoon just reiterates that.
Even though the Citizens came out on top, they certainly would have wanted a clean sheet to show for their hard work over the 90 minutes at the Ethiad on Saturday afternoon.
Alas, they were unable to keep a clean sheet – due to a rare but equally frustrating error by Joe Hart, who dropped a swerving cross straight into the path of Cameron Jerome, who couldn’t believe his luck from a few yards out.
Otámendi shone in an otherwise average display
Admittedly, the overall performance was not superb. But, Nicolas Otámendi, was excellent. Not only did he score his first goal for his new employers, following his big-money switch in the summer, but defensively, he was very solid too.
A towering header near the penalty spot arrowed into the corner of the net, and despite John Ruddy‘s dive – this proved needless, as the agile Argentinian wheeled away to celebrate his second-half opener with the Ethiad faithful.
After a sharp start, he’s settled in nicely
Having been thrown into the deep end – literally – with his debut coming in a cameo appearance against Juventus, he was partly at fault for Álvaro Morata‘s winner with less than ten minutes to play. Being pulled out of position, the ball was popped through him and within a flash, the Spaniard curled his effort into the corner of the net.
Since then though, Otámendi has taken to life in England relatively well. It’s never easy, settling into a new country, not least as a defender, where you have to form a defensive partnership with teammates that may not even speak the same language either.
Still learning English, he doesn’t speak much of it, but he hasn’t need to use it. Doing his talking on the pitch (no pun intended here), his plethora of interceptions and smart challenges have helped the sky Blues to avoid some rather compromising situations, especially on the counter attack when he might have been the last defender too.
Gives Pellegrini a pleasing selection headache
A real aerial presence, he highlighted his use from set-pieces with a well-taken finish, but was defensively alert when called upon too. He looks established and relatively calm at the back alongside Vincent Kompany – which allows Manuel Pellegrini a selection headache for his centre-back pairing in each game.
Does he go for the skipper and Otámendi? Or Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala? The latter option may seem slightly erratic, but both are refreshing options to pick in a defensive manner for City.
His display against local rivals Manchester United, more of the same. Powerful, clean but efficient too, it’s certainly a joy for City supporters to see – given their backline has been critically analysed as the weakest part of their team… his presence certainly strengthens it.