The Ped Report City 2-1 Spurs
After the trials and tribulations of the seemingly imminent exit from Europe's top club competition and the various rumours abounding around the Etihad, it was important that City bounced back as quickly as possible.
However in the light of recent performances, it started to look unlikely against an in-form Tottenham side for whom the Adebayor-Defoe axis paid dividends in Europe's secondary club competition in midweek.
Restored to the side at long last was the wizard of the Etihad in the shape of David Silva, Nasri making way. Kolarov was to provide the width albeit without the kind of frontman he needed to feed as Tevez and Aguero were posted to get amongst the goals.
City paraded their only-available back four with Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic and Clichy in the berths. Learning from the second half of the Ajax match, it was the "stick or twist" two in front of the back four as City returned to the tactics that had served them so devastatingly well last season.
Right from the start there looked to be more fluency of the type only David Silva can provide. His knack of knowing where players are before they know themselves was a key feature of this match. And with Bale and Lennon coming up empty down the flanks, it looked in the early stages as though City would get themselves into the driving seat in this match.
But as quickly as this seemed to be going right it went very wrong. Aguero surrendered a needless free kick out wide on the right. The drilled dead ball was headed goalwards by Olympian Caulker and looked routine for England's number 1, who spilled it into the net. Nightmare!
This should have been the signal for Spurs to take the match by the scruff of the neck, but AVB is much more conservative than 'Arry and he looked to be settling for what he had. Somehow Spurs survived a nailed-on penalty when Gallas handled Aguero's shot. As with the Champions League match there was nothing doing, a decision which earned Oliver the dubious accolade from the singing the sections "You're worse than Clattenburg".
City tried to prise something out but each time they found an offside flag up or a ref disinclined to help City but very much give things Spuds way.
The derisory noises at half time were aimed at the quartet in red as the stunned Blue Mooners couldn't work out what was going on.
The second half began with City meaning business. Silva was finding his range but Aguero was not, as once again he looked to be playing in ice skates. Friedel was well up to clear chances for Tevez and Zabaleta as it looked as though we were returning to the times when we just couldn't get anything from Spurs.
One thing you know when Brad Friedel is the opposition goalie is that he gives you nothing...you have to beat him and finally City did just that. Yaya charged down an attempted clearance to anywhere, the ball squirting through the Spurs defence to a for once onside Aguero. The remaining defenders looked to be shepherding him out wide and safe, when he stepped inside and left them wrong-footed before curling a beauty into the corner in just about the only part of the goal that Brad could not fill.
Mancini had changed the structure to the dreaded 3-5-2 and the introduction of Maicon meant City could play further up the field. And Maicon looked to be back to full fitness as he started to cause problems down City's right. Bale was still anonymous as was Lennon.
Chances were still starting to line up but the winner didn't look like coming as another penalty claim went begging. At this point I said to a colleague "Tell you what, 32 off 10 on and Dzeko will win this for us". Mancini was clearly eavesdropping as within seconds off went Tevez and on came the supersub of the title he does not like.
Straight away Dzeko got into the thick of things and started to boss Spurs back line. Spurs did however cause one or two slight problems at the South Stand end but this time Hart was up to it.
Then as the game clock threatened to tick itself to a standstill Dzeko from a deep position found Silva and carried on his run. The magician danced around the ankle snappers and played one of his laser-print passes right into the path of Dzeko who half turned and hammered the ball past Friedel with less than 2 minutes to play…or so we thought. Out came the board with 5 minutes on it and it should have breathed new life into Spurs. Instead Mancini promptly shut the door. Off came Aguero on went Garcia as City switched to 5-4-1 leaving Dzeko to forage alone.
Spurs didn't get close as City closed out the game.
The only disappointment was once again the poor goal conceded otherwise the performance was a definite improvement as City got back to the formation that clocked up the points and goals last season.
The Pedmachine is hearing that the City dressing room has been redesigned so that there is a separate room for the coaching team down there which makes Mancini a little more remote than most Managers. With his team second in the table without really breaking sweat this season so far this season one wonders why he feels the need to do this.
That cannot be good for player relations. I managed to get a chat with John Guidetti and his dad and it was good to see progress getting made there. I hope this kid gets through his illness. He will save City a fortune. Good luck to him.
all times East Manchester
Sa 17 Nov 15h00 Aston Villa, The Etihad, PL
We 21 Nov 19h45 Real Madrid, The Etihad, CL
Su 25 Nov 16h00 Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, PL
We 28 Nov 20h00 Wigan, DW Stadium, PL
Sa 01Dec 15h00 Everton, The Etihad, PL
Tu 04Dec 19h45 B Dortmund, Signal Iduna Park, CL
Su 09Dec 13h30 The rags, The Etihad, PL
Sa 15Dec 12h45 Newcastle, St James' Park, PL
Sa 22Dec 15h00 Reading, The Etihad, PL
We 26Dec 15h00 Sunderland, Stadium of Light, PL
Sa 29Dec 15h00 Norwich, Carrow Road, PL