Writer: Tranmere Loyal
Date:Sunday February 5 2012
The snow clouds were gathering as the Pedmachine arrived at the Etihad for the important match against Fulham, yesterday.
resh from Mancini`s admissions that he hadn`t prepared the team thoroughly for the Everton match, despite the fact that even the fans can`t remember last time City won there, Fulham presented another tricky problem with their penchant for retrieving themselves from the jaws of death at City`s fortress home.
So it was with some trepidation and audible groans that the blue faithful welcomed the line-up when it was announced ahead of yesterday`s match. Three at the back, Savic in for the now injured Kompany, Kolarov on the left, Johnson on the right. No room for the energetic Milner and the out of form Dzeko assisting Aguero up top. Barry was assigned to stick, Silva and Nasri to twist.
ow missing Zamora, Fulham look a little less threatening although you can never underestimate the threat of their experienced players Murphy and Duff who have been a thorn in City`s side for years. Indeed up against an advanced Kolarov, Duff must have fancied his chances.
ity hit the front straight away with three chances in the first five minutes falling largely to Dzeko who couldn`t trouble the scorers, but did bring a useful save out of the returning Schwarzer, one of the division`s best net minders.
Fulham looked a little toothless and it was simply a question of how soon the scoring would begin. Silva to Dzeko, on to Johnson who cut inside, invited the challenge and gleefully took the sticking out leg of Baird as he plummeted to the grass.
ike Dean is probably my favourite referee. He has a no-nonsense style and calls what he sees. I don`t think he saw this but he did see his assistant with his flag across his chest and pointed to the spot.
Up stepped Aguero to beat the outstretched Schwarzer to put City into a deserved early lead.
Within the next fifteen minutes we could have been challenging the Rugby score being clocked up at Murrayfield, but Silva`s effort peeled off wide and Nasri returned to Arsenal disease refusing to shoot for goal when wide open, preferring to pass behind players or to players who were marked. During this time John and particularly Silva had good penalty claims turned down by Dean and if given, City would have been out of sight within the first half hour.
s it happens they were anyway. Kolarov`s searching cross from the left was helped on by Aguero to Johnson who this time went around the corner to hammer a cross-shot which cannoned off the luckless Baird and into the back of his own net.
Ten minutes later a quality move involving Nasri, Aguero and Silva were involved in a quick-fire move spoiled only by Silva getting offside. Dzeko also had another effort which flashed over the bar.
s the snow thickened, the Blues were delighted to get in 2-0 to the good at half time.
ulham began the second half meaning business. Their memories fresh of reversing 0-2 to 2-2 or even 3-2 in their favour gave them some heart, so with Nasri struggling with a twinge, Mancini replaced him with Milner.
The Cottagers were still unable to constructively trouble Joe Hart. A cute free-kick along the floor almost caused concern but England`s number one was up to it. City had the match tight but the fans wanted to see the scoreboard move again as the ground staff were twice called upon to clear the lines, much to the amusement of the host broadcasters who had a chuckle at the efforts of master groundsman Lee Jackson.
After 72 minutes the hard working Aguero found a burst of speed down the left. Leaving Hangeland in his wake he drew two more defenders as it opened up for him. As the crowd expected him to shoot for goal and the Fulham defenders expecting the same he dropped the ball on to the toes of the unmarked Dzeko who drilled it straight through Schwarzer to conclude the scoring.
here was only one scare where Richards got caught out on the right of the defence after 88 minutes but Hart brilliantly stopped the resultant shot and forced it across his goal and off to safety. This is very different to earlier in the season when he would have set it up for the next attacker, if there had been one.
All in all a workmanlike performance from City in gaining a necessary result to keep the pressure on the other teams at the top.
he back line didn`t look under much threat and it was a tidier effort from Savic today playing against a less technically gifted opposition.
In midfield everyone made a contribution and it worked to plan. Johnson did reasonably well getting some results down the right and presenting some opportunities for Dzeko, Nasri and Silva.
Nasri looked to be trying for the perfect goal Gooner style, Silva kept the ball moving in typical style. Dzeko once again looked laboured. One wag saying he looked like he was wearing skis. But if you don`t play well and still score then that can`t be argued with.
But there is something special about the work rate and goalscoring of a diminutive Argentino leading the line. It is seen every week in La Liga, not only with Messi but also with the latest product of the Valenica talent machine, Piatti. It was seen for two seasons at the Etihad where Tevez paraded these traits and it now seen even more so in the multi-funcitional skills of Sergio Aguero.
What a masterclass this man produces week-in-week-out. A true quality operator and just about everyone`s man-of-the-match yesterday.
So Mancini turned the selection groans into contented smiles at 7.30pm, even though they greeted five additional minutes with the legend…"It`s f*****g freezing, we wanna go home".
A fixture that has caused us problems in the past against the last team to take points off City at home had been negotiated and Mancini`s stock had risen again in the stands. Another match gone, another step closer, a few more nails bitten.
And for once…although he did turn down two penalty claims, a top drawer referee, who knows the laws of the game and simply applies them without fuss.
Date:Sunday February 5 2012
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