For years, Manchester City struggled to maintain their Premier League status and could only look on in envy at their triumphant city rivals.
How the tides have turned.
Now, it’s United slumped down in their metaphoric garden furniture, peering over the fence at the fun their noisy neighbours appear to be having. Like any successful team, City fans can look back with teary eyes on a number of memorable moments produced by individuals which earned them their success.
With this being said, it’s no surprise that our list of big game City players is strewn with players from the past decade or so, however, never fear Manchester City purists – we’re well aware the club wasn’t founded in 2008 and so there is a throwback in the list…
In an ever-changing squad with superstars of world football coming and going, Vincent Kompany was one of the few constants.
The Belgian made 265 appearances for the club between 2008 and 2019, captaining the side from 2011 onwards.
The image of Kompany towering above United’s defence before producing a bullet header in April 2012, will forever live long in the memory of all City fans as they went on to clinch their first Premier League title. And that’s not even his most iconic moment.
Most Clutch Moment: His 25-yard piledriver against Leicester in 2019, arrowed into the top corner – leaving City fans delirious and Liverpool fans distraught as they snatched the title.
To say Yaya Toure enjoyed an interesting spell in Manchester would be a bit of an understatement.
Much was made of his big-money move from Spanish giants Barcelona, but the midfielder had a rather subdued start to life at City. However, he burst into life by netting the winner in City’s League Cup triumph against Stoke as the Citizens secured their first piece of silverware for 35 years.
A few years later he was at it again, this time notching a sublime curling effort against Sunderland in the League Cup final as City yet again ran out winners. He also became only the second ever midfielder to score 20 Premier League goals, before a bizarre falling out over being wished a happy birthday soured relations somewhat.
That incident aside, he was sensational in his pomp – and left us with that iconic chant about him and his brother, Kolo.
Most Clutch Moment: His seemingly forgotten second half brace at Newcastle. With the scores locked together at 0-0 with just 20 minutes to go, Toure popped up not once, but twice – including a superb curling effort – to ensure that victory against QPR would seal the 2011/12 title.
Sergio Aguero’s nine derby goals are enough to write any City player into club folklore, but such is the brilliance of the man, this isn’t the first thing you think of when the Argentinian’s name is mentioned.
Not even close.
It’s not even the fact that Aguero has mindbogglingly scored over 250 goals since arriving from Atletico Madrid in 2011. Instead, you think of Martin Tyler’s famous commentary as he thumped the ball past Paddy Kenny, sealing the club’s maiden Premier League crown.
A return to his homeland beckons at some stage, but Champions League glory – ban permitting – could yet be the final bit of cherry-topped icing on an otherwise wonderful cake.
Most Clutch Moment: That QPR goal.
Perhaps not the first name that springs to mind when discussing big game City players, but let me tell you, Leroy Sané has scored six goals and has four assists against the Premier League big six – the same amount as his magician of a teammate, Kevin De Bruyne.
Speculation surrounding Sané’s future at the club is rife, with Bayern Munich interested in taking him home. If he does leave, the Premier League’s loss will undoubtedly be the Bundesliga’s gain – as he’s proven time and again that he loves crunch games.
Sané hasn’t always been a regular starter under Pep Guardiola, but rest assured – the Spaniard picks him when he needs a performance.
Most Clutch Moment: His winner against Liverpool in January 2019 as the club continued to hunt down the Merseysiders. The goal secured a vital 2-1 win as they went on to secure the title by just a point.
Told you we hadn’t forgotten about you City purists.
Long before the Agueros and the Balotellis of this world, City used to have to check their bank balance before making a purchase.
Shaun Goater arrived at City’s former home Maine Road in 1998. The jury was out for some time on the Bermuda international (he didn’t give himself the greatest start having been a former United player, though admittedly he never made an appearance for them). However, four successive seasons as top-scorer soon saw to that.
Most Clutch Moment: His brace sunk city rivals United back in 2002 as they ran out 3-1 winners. Their first win over United at Maine Road since 1989.
Bernardo Silva arrived at City in 2017 and spent the majority of his early years in the shadows of some of the greatest midfielders in Europe.
However, the Portugal international has now established himself as one of the best midfielders in the league. The imminent departure of David Silva will not doubt be softened by the brilliance of this man.
His six goals and three assists against the big six prove he is the man for the big occasion.
Most Clutch Moment: His crafty near post effort which caught out David de Gea and unlocked a rigid United defence, as City clinched a 2-0 win on the home straight to the 2018/19 title.
Such is the talent at City these days, very good players often go under the radar a little. Edin Džeko is a perfect example of that.
He arrived at City in 2011 and went on to make 189 appearances for the club (a lot of which were from the bench), scoring 72 goals. He was often overshadowed by the likes of Aguero, but his goalscoring prowess in the Bundesliga – and subsequent form in Serie A since – show the talent of the man.
Most Clutch Moment: Without his 92nd minute header against QPR, there would be no 94th minute Aguero goal.