Manuel Pellegrini has been quick to stress that squad rotation, not performance matters, are behind his decision to start Willy Caballero in Manchester City’s last two games.
The Argentine stopper came in for the 7-0 Capital One Cup mauling of Sheffield Wednesday and remained between the sticks for the Citizens’ 4-2 win over Hull last time out.
After the Chilean tactician promised to give his ancillary net minder ‘one or two games’ it could be that regular starter Joe Hart regains his place for the visit of Roma – which City are 7/10 to win – but based on their respective starts to the campaign, who deserves to begin at the Etihad?
Keeping clean sheets shouldn’t be too tough an ask for a side of the Citizens’ stature, yet with Hart in the net they’ve kept a total of one from six games in the Premier League and Champions League and that came on the opening weekend against Newcastle.
Caballero ensured a grotesquely inferior Sheff Wed outfit were sent packing without registering on his first competitive encounter (subtracting the semi-friendly Community Shield from the equation), yet the Owls didn’t give him a complete free pass.
They mustered six attempts on goal, hitting the target twice, as many as Stoke did in their 1-0 win at the Etihad, or as Chelsea managed in their recent 1-1 draw.
Add these to the denials made at the KC last time out and the former Malaga man has repelled an average of 2.5 shots per appearance and made as many saves per goal shipped.
These means best those managed by Hart, who saves an average of 1.75 efforts before being beaten and claws away 1.4 strikes per outing.
His claims success rate of 90 per cent is also lagging behind his understudy’s flawless record when it comes to collecting crosses.
While two games is hardly a sufficient sample size to make a sound judgement call, it appears that Cabellero has outperformed Hart in the short time he’s had to do so and should retain his starting spot ahead of the Roma meeting.