The Ped Report - City 1-0 Wigan Athletic
In a week that has seen us dispose of Aston Villa in the FA Cup, scrape a miserable draw against a poor Fulham side, the world explode at stories concerning Kolo Toure and revelations about the immense contribution that the Club is to make in the rengeneration of East Manchester, it was perhaps befitting that yesterday's match against lowly Wigan Athletic should represent the continuation of the roller coaster ride that is Manchester City.
We certainly are swinging from high to deep as each week progresses and that was best summed up in the story of this match.
I often find it difficult to conceive that certain teams manage to remain in the Premier League when they play abysmal football and don't contribute a great deal. The Southamptons and Coventry Citys of the past spring to mind. The Blackburn Rovers of the present join them.
But in a year when we've seen a refereshing approach by Ian Holloway and his team at Blackpool, seen Mick McCarthy and his Wolves give all the top teams a beating at Molineux, what a shame it is that a well organised side with an exciting young manager like Wigan Athletic and Roberto Matinez look to be perched atop the Premier League trap door.
I met Roberto Martinez earlier in the week and what an engaging and knowledgeable man he is. Very passionate about his team, he knows precisely what he wants to achieve and is working very hard to try to do that.
Some of his footballing ideas are good ones and with a better quality of personnel I have no doubt his ambitions are achievable.
Stretford's finest saw it last week and we saw it yesterday...if they had one striker of any notable class, they would not have gone away empty-handed.
City got off to a blistering start in a match that many had down for a goal difference booster. As usual chances came and went. Balotelli bringing an unusual save out of Al Habsi, Tevez weaving an unlikley path through then squeezing his shot just wide.
Solid looking at the back, City launched from midfield. Vieira took the anchor, Yaya pressed on and as always Silva got the show on the road. But Wigan were defiant and resolute. Although getting men quickly behind the ball they showed a capability to push forward at every opportunity, especially in the light of some wasteful passing notably by Barry.
When the goal came it was indeed an unexpected one. Toure released Silva, who shaped to go inside but went round the corner, side stepped and then unleashed a goalbound shot which stayed low. It looked routine enough for Al Habsi, who got it all wrong. Bending down legs wide open he got nothing behind the ball and as his hands looked hinged to his legs let it slip through his legs and into the unguarded net.
This may have signalled the Poznan and caused a few chuckles as the replays were shown on the jumbotrons, but it was a critical error for a Premier League indeed any league goalkeeper.If it would have been Bruce in the nets, question marks would have been raised Chez Bookies.
That Wigan didn't recover from this was largely down to the fact that they do not readily have a quality goalscorer in their midst.
Chances came their way. Moses, Rodallega , McCarthy and Cleverly all tried hard, but for once luck favoured City.
The second half saw City decide to stick with what they had as Wigan saw more of the ball and continued to hunt for an equaliser that just wouldn't come. Maybe the volume of matches is catching up on City, maybe some of the selections and tactics remain a mystery, but with 94 minutes gone Conor Sammon skipped through the defence and his shot across Hart must have scraped the outside of the post. Desperately unlucky.
So City got away with a very scruffy win with an even scruffier goal. We'll take that. We gained a couple of points on the Assassins as they prepare for their exit from the Champions League and their annual surrender at Old Trafford. They are now looking over both shoulders and seeing a team from Manchester and one from just outside.
The back line won this match for us. Hart made two good saves, Richards continues in the vein he has reached, Kompany once again clever and Lescott probably having his best match for City and afforded Man of the Match in many papers. The same back line could however have cost us two points right at the end.
After that Silva was once again the pick of the team. Balotelli didn't contribute much, Tevez tried hard as usual but made no headway, Yaya shone very patchily, his batteries clearly on the wane and Barry returned to annonymity.
For Wigan I thought that McCarthy and Cleverly did well, the latter despite a bone-crunching tackle from Richards early on. I would have been inclined to put on N'Zogbia a little sooner. He may just have caused some damage.