Monday 31 October 2011

Match Report City v Wolves. Stuart Attwell wasn't THAT bad.

Professional Job by City.

It’s a fair guess that when City fans think back over this season few will remember this game as a highlight.  Even in the list of  results, the reader’s focus will be drawn back to their drubbing of Manchester United. 
But, MARK MY WORDS .. This is the game that has all the hallmarks of a title winning side.

Most were surprised that Mancini opted to leave Balotelli on the bench after his dazzling derby performance.  Instead the coolest Italian in history chose Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. Both of whom set about Wolves from the off.   Wolves were set up differently to mid week and for the first 45 seemed to have just about enough to thwart the two highest scoring strikers in the land.

Scott Hennessey played an absolute blinder for the first 45, turning efforts away from both strikers and Samir Nasri. Stearman probably also deserves a note in dispatches as he prevented a clear goal with a courageous block.  This is the kind of defensive performance that could have put a significant dent in City’s title aspirations.. But then it all came undone.
Wolves Howler.
For the past 12? Years I’ve been waiting for a goalkeeper to gift City a goal the same way that Shaun Goater was gifted against Nottingham Forest.  For reasons only known to himself Hennessey decided to control and take his time on the ball as one of the top 3 players in the world chased him down.

Aguero’s tackle was quick enough (of course it was), the ball then fell into Edin Dzeko’s path who slotted the easiest of chances .  5 seconds of madness after 52 minutes of discipline  and Wolves hopes were gone.  15 minutes later and Kolorov had doubled the lead, this finished the game off (or so we all thought).
On the 74th minute Jo Hart parried a chance that fell into the path of Kevin Doyle, Vincent Kompany flattened him and was given a straight red for preventing a clear scoring opportunity. Hunt scored from the resulting penalty and  City were down to 10 men.  This is the kind of pressure that we've not been put under this season. 

For me looking back this was the most interesting passage of play, because it probably just about made things even. Mancini knows about seeing out games. It's what he does, (Mark Hughes could do well to take note).
Manchester City’s resilience here was utterly brilliant. Wolves had 20 minutes to level up and in that time managed just 2 shots from outside the box and only one on target.  12 months ago this game would have finished 2-2 or worse but this is the new City where ALL the players can see a prize. 

They didn’t give Wolves a sniff and just to bloody their nose a little Adam Johnson scored on 90 minutes from 20 yards out. It followed a superb break and hold from the second coolest Italian in History.  (Garibaldi is third).

A word or two on the referee. 

The referee Stuart Atwell has been the topic of much conversation but I’m not convinced that he did as badly as everyone said. First off everyone agrees that he got the “big decisions right” and every pundit reminds us every week that that is the main job for a ref.

His 3 crimes .
1.       1.He missed a booking for Hunt.
2.       2.He awarded an odd freekick against Balotelli that was the most ridiculous I’ve seen.
3.       3.He is called Stuart Atwell.

It’s crazy to say his was the worst performance of all time- when nothing he did affected (or stood to change) the natural outcome of the game. He'll be around for the next 10 years of so plenty of time for him to build a working relationship with Mario B.

City still sit top of the table having protected their 5 point lead and increased the GD on United by 1 (now +28)

Line ups.

Manchester City.

Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Nasri, Yaya Toure, Barry, Silva, Aguero, Dzeko


Hennessey, Stearman, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Edwards, O’Hara, Henry, Hunt, Guedioura, Doyle

Att 47, 142

(My prediction  3:1)

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