Date:Thursday December 5 2013
It was not quite the Wednesday Night Team nor the Dr Jekyll Team that assisted Manchester City in overcoming their away day Blues, but for sure it was not the Mr Hyde team that has put us off our evening meals on occasion this season.
Pellegrini has no room for sentiment, or so he says, but what other excuse can he give for preferring Dzeko up front rather than the GoalBeast Negredo? Other than of course the fact that it was he who scored twice at the Hawthorns last season and also at the Etihad against last night's opponents, West Bromwich Albion.
Clichy's resurgence at left back was instantly curbed by the inclusion of Kolarov, no doubt to be employed in a forward thinking role designed to feed Dzeko with crosses, if, of course, Dzeko could get into the correct position.
The rest of the team selected itself and was once again the best available with Zaba and Demichelis at last accompanied by Kompany, the keeper of the City keys. In midfield the Fernandinho-Yaya axis was flanked by the "N" brigade of Navas and Nasri, the Mighty Atom himself alongside Dzeko.
City got off to a meaningful start and it looked as though there was no place for failure. Aguero hit his usual "sighter" from which a goal would have been the preferred outcome but it wasn't long until his second sight of the Baggies net yielded dividends.
Some neat football involving Nasri and Navas laid the ball at Dzeko's feet. Although he slowed the momentum, he delayed long enough to read Zabaleta's run, squeezing the ball through to him. The Argentino duly fed his national colleague Aguero who hammered it into the roof of the net. An early goal with the game only 9 minutes old.
So would there be a new City in play now. Would it be the one that invited the opposition on as in Spurs and Swansea, or would something different prevail? We found out only just over 10 minutes later when another flowing move, this time down the left, involving Nasri and Aguero played in Kolarov whose low cross was inch perfect in finding Yaya who swiftly opened his body before steering it past Myhill to make it 2-0.
This should have opened the floodgates as the chances came thick and fast often in the direction of Dzeko who was running the wrong channels and Aguero who was in profligate mood and should have had the ball by half time. One such move saw Navas wriggle clear down the right, he looked up, saw Dzeko pointing, delivered the ball to exactly where Dzeko pointed only to find Dzeko run into a different channel and the chance was gone. If a certain Sevillano would have been on, that would have been 3-0.
Amalfitano was finding room down the Baggies right in the spaces left by Kolarov, but each time he did, he selected to sky a cross in the direction of Long, clearly designed to unsettle City's defence. They must however have forgotten that Kompany was in the team today and he dealt with everything majestically, more or less leaving Pantilimon as a by-stander. The understanding between Kompany and Demichelis was instant and there was a solidity about the back line the seemed to reinforce the entire team and in fairness in the first half the Albion hardly had a sight of the goal let alone any chance of scoring.
In the second half, having found no joy down Kolarov's side, they tried to use Berahino against Zabaleta. Not the best choice of moves but it did start to gain results towards the end of the match. Ahead of that City effectively locked-down the match with Fernadinho bossing the midfield as well as getting forward to hammer one over the bar from an Aguero cross.
Yaya was in a doubly destructive mood, happy to dismantle Albion's midfield progress and then to spring forward in the way we know and love to create havoc in and around the West Brom penalty area.
City in my opinion were lucky to survive a penalty shout against Kolarov on Long. When he pleads his innocence you more or less know he's guilty, but referee Chris Foy sided with him on this occasion. Then moments later, in the next attack, Long again went to ground, this time cheaply under a challenge from Demichelis.
This urged City onto the attack and another team build up saw Kolarov break into the penalty area and hit the deck himself, this time seeing Foy point to the spot. It clearly wasn't a tit-for-tat kind of decision because for me if that was a penalty, then so was Kolarov's challenge on Long. But City will take that and the ultimate insult was paid to Dzeko, now the only real striker left on, as Yaya stepped up with the ball to send Myhill to one corner and the ball just off middle and into the net.
So it was clearly not going to be another shock on the road for City, was it? If it wasn't then there were two lapses in concentration that given another five minutes could have presented uncertaintly.
After 85 minutes, Berahino did find some space down the left and routed a cross into the City box. There didn't seem to be enough of a problem from his own men, but Kolarov's attempted clearance rebounded into the net off a stunned Pantilimon. The big Romanian then had to deal with a decent curling shot, turning it around the post.
Then, with the game drawing to close and deep into stoppage time a mix-up on the edge of the penalty area where Demichelis should have taken charge, saw Anichebe get clear and fire his first goal for the Baggies into the corner of the net. It was a "typical City" moment in some ways, where a striker hasn't scored for a while, gets one against the Blues.
Given more time we would have a truer reflection as to how this comeback might affect the team's confidence, but this time the Blues put the game to bed and whilst the dulcet tones of "You're getting sacked in the morning" were ringing out somewhere in Stretford and aimed at their new manager, "Blue Moon" was the order of the day at the Hawthorns.
There is no doubt that Kompany played a major role both physically and mentally in the outcome of this match and at last the other forms of media are starting to realise that Aguero is the real deal. Suarez might have been man-of-the-moment last night but the Mighty Atom continues to denote hand grenades everywhere he plays and although Messi and Ronaldo are the incumbent best players in the world, they are playing in a Miguel Maus league with only two decent teams. Aguero and Suarez play in the hardest league in the world every week and surely must be taken seriously on the world stage.
Nasri continued in his free role as playmaker and ran remorselessly at the Baggies defence and midfield, opening doors and creating spaces and having a good eye for the good pass. Navas continues to improve, not only as a winger but in his all round play, which could also see him as an able deputy for Silva should the magician find himself in sick bay again in the future.
This fixture should have produced a clean sheet for City and the fact that it didn't was primarlity their own fault with a ridiculous own goal and some poor covering on the edge of the box. But they will take an away win at a difficult stadium before moving on to Southampton at the weekend, where a well-coached average team are punching above their weight in the Barclays Premier League this season. I suspect that the defence will have tightened up even more by weekend and with Negredo almost a certainty to be restored, the outcome should be interesting.
None of the results went City's way last night, except of course Stretford getting a historic whacking by Everton, so the Blues will have to plug away for their second away win in a few days.
Yaya will probably be the heralded man-of-the-match for 2 goals and an excellent all round display, but let's not forget a sterling effort from Fernandinho. If his shot had gone in we would have been praising a new dawn for this footballer who has almost stealthily gone about re-inventing the Barry role with a touch of class, although I'm sure Barry would have been about when the second goal was scored.
Third in the league is a good place for City especially with Arsenal on the horizon. They must continue this momentum at St Mary's Stadium this weekend, the scene of a Juggling Joe Howler last season.
UPCOMING DATES FOR YOUR FILOFAX:
all times East Manchester GMT
Sa 07 Dec 15h00 Southampton, St Mary's Stadium PL
Tu 10 Dec 19h45 Bayern Munich, Allianz Arena CLGS
Sa 14 Dec 15h00 Arsenal, The Etihad PL
Tu 17 Dec 19h45 Leicester, Walkers Stadium, LC5
Sa 21 Dec 15h00 Fulham, Craven Cottage PL
Th 26 Dec 15h00 Liverpool, The Etihad PL
Sa 28 Dec 15h00 Crystal Palace, The Etihad PL
We 01 Jan2014 15h00 Swansea City, Liberty Stadium PL
Date:Thursday December 5 2013
What Went Wrong? (Monday March 10 2014)
The Ped Cup Report City 1-2 Wigan Athletic (Sunday March 9 2014)
Stats: Manchester City v Wigan Athletic (Sunday March 9 2014)
Two Young Blues Get A Sleepover With The FA Cup (Friday March 7 2014)
We Must Not Let History Repeat Itself (Friday March 7 2014)
VIDEO: Cup Win Is Special - Kompany (Wednesday March 5 2014)
Edin Dzeko - Champion Or Passenger? (Tuesday March 4 2014)
The Ped Final Report City 3-1 Sunderland (Monday March 3 2014)
Stats: Manchester City FC v Sunderland AFC (Sunday March 2 2014)
League Cup Final: The Citizens vs The Black Cats (Friday February 28 2014)
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