The Ped Report Norwich City 1-6 City
The sun was out today as City took the field at Carrow Road, knowing once again it was win or bust at a venue where they have not enjoyed a lot over time although City haven't played Norwich much since 2003 And even then did not Ali Bernarbia get sent off after 3 minutes and City recovered from 0-1 to win 3-1 with ten men?
And so to the business of the day. Mancini fielded his best available team being the same eleven that demolished West Brom in midweek except that Zabaleta replaced the injured Richards. Yaya Toure was kept on the bench.
The banana skins were all in the Norwich half as City threw down the gauntlet. The ground attack was quickly into gear and Tevez and Aguero looked delicious in the early stages. At least with Tevez, Aguero and Silva City has a front line that can all understand and talk to each other!
Referee Chris Foy had clearly been instructed perhaps by the Red Scottish Knight not to make it easy for City so when Tevez was chopped down in the box, instead of giving City their due penalty, he booked Tevez for diving. Maybe it's his turn for three weeks in League One? Not content with that, Norwich almost scored despite Hart being clearly impeded by Bennett in more brutal fashion than the so-called offence which cost Wigan a legitimate goal in midweek.
But what could he do when the ground combination got to work. After 18 minutes Nasri, Silva and Aguero were all involved before Tevez struck from a wide position and the flight of the ball deceived Rudd as it must have moved at least two feet as it flew into the Norwich net. Foy might have looked at his linesman for offside, but nothing doing.
Aguero was getting into his stride. The mighty atom in chief also had a potential penalty denied, albeit less clear cut, but Norwich could do nothing about the neat move in the inside left channel that opened it up for Sergio to drill a neat shot inside the near post after 27 minutes.
With de Jong patrolling the blue line, Norwich were getting little joy and no satisfactory conclusion to their neat football as the blue wasps swarmed around the field, pressing forward at every opportunity and created space and chances at will. Inevitably this kept the Canaries on the back foot as their desperate attempts to clear kept coming back. City were moving the ball quickly and as such it always carried a threat.
Up front Norwich do carry a threat but Kompany and Lescott were up to the task of restraining Holt and Clichy looked comfortable against Wilbraham and Bennett..
Silva service has definitely resumed. Always shielding the ball from his opponents and making life difficult before sliding in exquisite passes to men in space. Tevez was operating from a deeper role as he did on Wednesday, but his work was definitely for the team and not for himself once again, forcing even the most vehement anti-Tevez brigader to bite their lip and think about what might have been or might still be if he had been managed differently, and not only by Mancini, this season.
Aguero was unlucky on two further occasions as half time approached and once again this could have been a more comfortable scoreline as the fans went for one of Delia's pies at half time with City 2-0 in front, but with Norwich still a second half threat.
Indeed they were first to show in the second half but Holt selected the wrong route. Two subs at half time changed Norwich's shape a little. Hoolahan was to play down the left to try to stretch out the City midfield. The aim to disturb City's comfort at the back. And it worked with Hart failing to clear a routine cross and Surman following up to drill home in what I now call City time. Today it was Norwich City time. Game on for Norwich.
The Canaries now had renewed vigour and City's radar was starting to falter as another cross found Holt in the box who was thwarted by Zabaleta. Norwich continued to stretch the game in wide areas and the crosses rained into the box aimed at Holt and Wilbraham and the final whistle looked a long way off.
As fast as Norwich loaded the wings they quickly re-assembled whenever City got forward and Ruddy was equal to Aguero's 57th minute effort and Zabaleta's two minutes later. Ahead of the hour with Tevez in full flow Bennett took one for the team as he hauled Tevez to the ground with space having opened up.
Shortly thereafter an Arsenal moment for City when great work by Aguero saw his goalbound shot hit Tevez and rebound to safety.
Norwich were still looking lively and City's momentum seemed to have deserted them so it was time to enter Yaya Toure with Nasri making way. Recovered from his scything down by Song last week, Yaya was needed to instill his inimitable style into the midfield, add his robustness and get City moving again. But Norwich were still moving the ball quickly in midfield and City were clearly having trouble getting back into rhythm.
The nerves were jangling as Norwich pressed as effectively as City had in the first half and the nailbiting had begun with still half an hour to go, as "Come on City" began on the seating decks in a bid to liven up the Blues.
But they were still being bossed by Norwich and still not happy with the crosses coming into the box. It was rearguard action as the Canaries sang from the same hymn sheet making life a nightmare for City.
Yaya was starting to affect the game. Moving sharply from side to side working in tandem with Silva he finally got the side back into gear and some neat passing between them finally saw Yaya's shot beaten away by Ruddy and Tevez followed up to head home. A minute later Aguero running down the left double-banked, shimmied and left defenders for dead before opening up the route to the far post giving Ruddy no hope at all. The steam at last hissed out of the adrenaline valves.
So from being under the cosh and perhaps staring down the barrel of a 2-2 draw City had sprung the locks with Aguero and Tevez both now looking for the match ball. For their part all the effort Norwich had put in so far in the second half seemed to be evaporating. They were finally being blown away by some exceptional City football as the Blue tide was in full flow for its second coming.
The hat trick duly came for Tevez with 10 minutes left. Typically he chased a lost cause forcing the full back into a short back pass and Carlito dummied around Ruddy to poke the ball into an empty net. Once again he was immediately replaced with Richards coming on for the last 10. Tevez could be seen high fiving every one on the bench..except Mancini!
Norwich had more or less lost it by now. Their verve had gone although Hart made a smart save from Morison. The neat and tidy passing had now returned and City were back in total command. Yaya's stamp was in midfield, clearly disturbed by the big win in his absence in midweek and the ball was moving side to side front to back in rapid eye movements. It was now about getting off the field unscathed but preferably with an Aguero hat trick. And boy did he try to make it an Argentine 1-2 for once greedily trying to create his own opening with colleagues well placed.
The woodwork started to take over the match. First of all Johnson hit the bar and then when Aguero opened the defence again his shot for the bottom corner hit the post. Even Richards was getting in on the act with a determined run out of defence but he was halted in the act of shooting by as Norwich defender.
In the next move Yaya found Aguero wide right, he found Clichy whose first time cross located the unattended Johnson who drilled home for 6-1.
This was a performance of character by City. From the comfortable platform of 2-0, the game was in the balance when Norwich clawed their way back into the game. Arsenal may not consider City to be a class outfit but believe me they are.
Once Yaya took the game by the scruff of the neck, Silva got going again and the gaps opened. With that came four goals of total quality.
It was that unfathomable barrage that is de Jong and Barry that laid the foundations for this victory. De Jong kept the tackles coming in and Barry released the ball quickly. When you have Yaya in reserve then it can be all too much for the opposition.
So has the pressure moved down Chester Road where the Stretford's come face to face with Aston Villa tomorrow. Will McLeish, a good friend of you know who field recently declared closet Stretford, Stephen Ireland or will Richard Dunne and Shay Given help the Blues?
Maybe, just maybe Aguero and Tevez are not chasing lost causes. But I'm so angry that City is once again clubbing teams into submission after dropping title threatening points for the last month.