Monday, 12 December 2011

CAN'T WIN THEM ALL

So it's December 12th 2012 and another massive game and another big test as Manchester City go to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea. Chelsea hadn't had a great start to the season but had been coming good in the last few games and it's always hard when you face One of the "Big four". Never confident going to play the big teams but then again its Man City so i don't think you can ever be to confident but we've done ok at Spurs and at Manchester United and i guess at Liverpool so i can't call it. United had beaten Wolves on Saturday and narrowed the gap to 2 points at the top so we need a win really to regain our 5 point gap but realistically I'd be more than happy with a draw. The team was what you'd expect. Hart in goal. Zabba came in at right back for Richards who is carrying a knock, Lescott and Kompany in the centre of defence with Clichy on the left. Yaya and Barry were the holders with Silva and Milner the attacking midfield. Aguero and Mario up front. But for Zabba, this was the team that beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford. But had we had it to good at White heart land and Old Trafford ? At Anfield they handled us better and kept us to a draw, could Chelsea go one better tonight in the horrible winter rain in London ? Or was the poznan going back to the capital ?



Match started, with the same ref we'd had at Old Trafford, Clattenberg, and what a start it was. Within 2 minutes a wonderful bit of skill by Aguero saw him lose his markers and play an excellent ball to Mario clear through to confidently put us 1-0 up. Great start. Chelsea looked a little bit shell shocked and for the first 10 minutes and Aguero had another good chance on 10 minutes when he took on the defence on his own to create an opening, but fired wide. 13 minutes gone and an amazing bit of passing and possession saw Silva played into the box and bought down, but Clattenberg said no penalty. It should have been. Chelsea began to settle and enjoyed more possession but their passing wasn't as affective when they had the ball as we were when we had it, in fact it was 24 minutes before they mustered a shot on goal from Drogba, dealt with by Hart at the expense of a corner. To be fair it was a quiet 33 minutes and then a great pass from Terry out to Sturridge who skinned Clichy to the bi line and fired a great cross for Meireles to equalise. 2 minutes later the goal scorer was booked for a reckless tackle on Zabba, but it was clear to see Chelsea were getting a grip on the game. City weren't finding the passes now and the half petered out and it ended 1-1, could have been so different if the blatant penalty had been given in the 13th minute.




Chelsea started the 2nd half bright and Clichy was quickly booked when he couldn't handle Sturridge. The resulting free kick was fired in the box and poor marking from City saw Sturridge free at the far post but he fired over. Early warning. Yaya was playing a dangerous game, Kicking out at Chelsea players but luckily for him and us, not seen by the Ref. City were giving away possession far to often and Mata was beginning to come into the game more where as Silva had disappeared.  Chelsea were defending deep and City just couldn't get through them. 57 minutes gone and what i feared happened, Clichy made a tackle with his wrong foot on the flying Ramires and a 2nd yellow saw him sent off. Now this was going to be a real challenge.  Obviously it was all Chelsea now and Aguero was sacrificed to get Kolo on and reinstate the back four. Our first threat on goal coming from a long range effort from Mario in the 67th minute, easily gathered by Cech. City were defending well, but every time we cleared our lines it was coming straight back as we had no outlet. 72nd minute and Chelsea's goal scorer made way for Frank Lampard to come on. 74th minute and David Silva, who had been vacant for most of the match made way for De Jong. going into the 80th minute it was still level and we were holding on well, mostly Chelsea but nothing to threatening, could we keep it that way for 10 minutes ? No, a shot from Sturridge and Lescott handles the ball in the box, Penalty. Lampard, who had not long been on scored it, 2-1 down, the unbeaten run coming to an end ? Dzeko comes on for Lescott, Mancini having to try and save something from the game, but Chelsea saw the game out, earning them selves free kicks to eat up the clock, short corners to keep possession and to beat Manchester City for the first time in the league this season.



David Silva didn't get into the game and that's what cost us, Yes a penalty that never was and a penalty given cost us, but teams are beginning to suss us out now and stop us from playing. But for his early Goal Mario Balotelli didn't really get into the game and neither did Aguero or Yaya ToureClichy in a position he couldn't argue with and what the hell Lescott was thinking handling in the box ? Was a blatant penalty and the ref could do nothing but give it. If someone would have offered me the position we are in, only beaten by Chelsea, Bayern and Napoli, at the beginning of the season, how many blue's wouldn't have taken that ? Not to down hearted, you can't win them all and thoughts now turn to Arsenal at home this coming Sunday. Got to take at least a point from that now. Still a happy blue, the football I've witnessed over the years, how could i not be ? Thanks for reading.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

ON A WIN AND A PRAYER

December 7th 2011 and it was judgement night. City Vs Bayern Munich in the Champions league at the Etihad. City had to win, but even if they did, our fate lay elsewhere. If Napoli beat Villarreal, it didn't matter what the result was in Manchester, we'd be out and heading into the Europa league. I've got to admit, I'd resigned myself to the fact that our Champions league adventure was over, but it's football, and you never know what can happen so we would have to keep our fingers well and truly crossed. Team news was pretty much what you'd expect but for the right back position. Hart was in Goal, in defence it was Clichy on the left, Lescott and Kompany in the middle and injury to Richards and Zabbaleta saw Savic come in to play Right back. Yaya and Barry were the holding midfielders with Nasri and Silva the attackers, with Dzeko and Aguero up front. 



I was quite relaxed going to the ground because in my mind we were already out. The worst thing that could happen in my mind would be for us to lose our game and Villarreal to do us the favour we needed and win. I was just going to enjoy the experience of watching my team play one of Europes best teams. I didn't think it could get any better than watching us play Juventus last year, but it has, after all that is what it's all about for me. I never for a second thought we'd win the Champions league, especially after the group we were drawn in, so i just wanted to enjoy it and experience it while it lasted. Seeing the ground draped in the Champions league Livery, seeing the bigger teams coming to play in our back yard and that music giving you goosebumps before every game. I would be disappointed if we went out, but the Europa league is still a trophy to win and it still sees big clubs I've never seen before coming to our ground. Europa league was good enough for us Citys fans last year and we were gutted when we got knocked out so IF we end up back there, maybe we could go for it again.

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The match is self was good stuff, City looked like they had learnt a valuable lesson in Europe and kept the ball  better enjoying a large amount of possession, admittedly against a weaker Bayern Side, as they were already through, they rested their biggest stars. The atmosphere was weird. It was a good atmosphere but a little subdued as obviously everyone had one ear on what was happening at Villarreal. Aguero had a good chance to open the scoring, a great cross from Nasri, but his headed flew over the bar. We had a goal disallowed, when a free kick from Siva ended up in the net, but Lescott had been judged to have fouled the keeper when he climbed with him so it was ruled out. City were playing well though and eventually got the goal they deserved on 37 minutes. Barry played the ball into Dzeko, whose little flick was taken brilliantly by Silva on his chest and from the edge of the box he fired in an unstoppable shot to put us 1-0 up. Word on the Radio said that Villarreal were holding Napoli to 0-0 and that was good enough for us.




The second half was pretty much the same thing, city keeping the ball and the crowd rumbling with anticipation that it was still 0-0 in Villarreal and also there was an under current of Basel 1 Manchester United 0 to. On 56 minutes the mood got better when Yaya made it 2-0. City walking through the Bayern defence, Silva to Dzeko and Dzeko through to the in rushing Yaya to poke the ball home. Still 0-0 in Villarreal and City fans were starting to allow them selves to believe. I had my radio one listening for news from Spain all the way through the match and people around me were asking me every couple of minutes "what score is Napoli?" & "What score is United?". I kept giving them the news they wanted to hear until the 65th minute and Napoli scored. That was it, Villarreal had never looked like getting a point all the way through the group stage and now they were 1-0 down. We were doing what we had to do though and i know it made a lot of blues proud. We played the game out winning 2-0 but in the end a 2-0 win for Napoli saw us exit the Champions league. Not a great night as far as Manchester were concerned as Manchester United crashed out to losing 2-1 in Basel.




The main things to take from this game was the fact that it looked like we'd learnt how to play in Europe's elite competition now, to late maybe, but we looked a lot more patient against Bayern than we had against Napoli in our opening game, the draw at home that in the long run probably cost us the most and the other thing i took from this game was that Savic looks a better right back than he does a centre back. I'm not saying he's a bad central midfielder, he isn't, but i thought he had the best game i've seen him play at right back, good to know. Nasri again was great and even though Dzeko had a quiet game, he did provide the touch to set up both goals so not all bad. So our European football moves to Thursday nights again, back in the Europa league, ah well, lets just go out and win that instead hey ? I'm still a very happy blue, Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

CANARIES CRUSHED



December 3rd and after a week that has seen us into the Semi finals of the league cup to play Liverpool and United get knocked out at home 2-1 by Crystal palace we face Norwich at home. Norwich had been handling themselves quite well in the premier league but i have to admit i went to this game feeling quite confident. I saw a lot of Tweets and Facebook status's saying it was going to be easy and I've got to admit i didn't think it was going to be as easy as some fans obviously thought it was going to be, but I was confident we could win this one at home. Joe Hart was returned to goal, Richards and Clichy were the full backs and Kolo Toure kept his place from midweek to join Kompany in the centre of defence seeing Lescott drop to the bench, Maybe with Bayern Munich in mind. Barry and Yaya were the centre of midfield with Nasri and Siva the Attacking midfielders. Aguero and Dzeko started up front. Before the game, the sold out crowd paid a fitting tribute to Premier League legend Gary Speed, who had taken his life this week, a sad loss.



The first half was like watching Attack vs Defence as Norwich quite obviously parked the bus, and 25 minutes into the game the 73% possession statistic that flashed up on the screen demonstrated that perfectly. We did nearly get caught when Kompany and Kolo got left for dead by the Morrison, but luckily a heavy touch allowed Hart to come out and save us, but apart from that, in the first half, Norwich may as well not even bothered turning up. All the pressure on the Norwich goal didn't seem to be paying off at first with Aguero firing over the bar a couple of times when he looked like scoring and Dzeko going close. Nasri was looking lively though and I'd even go as far to say he played better than Silva today, he seems to be growing into the squad more and more. 32 Minutes gone and the breakthrough came. Good work from Silva on the right played in Richards and he passed it into the box for Aguero, His first touch left him with his back to goal and by the time he'd turned goal wards he was surrounded by 5 Norwich players, he delayed for a moment before somehow toe poking the ball through the crowd and into the net to make it 1-0. The rest of the first half played out the same, City Attacking and Norwich firmly parked behind the bus.



The second half started and Norwich would have to come out and they started brighter but created only one half chance that went harmlessly over the bar. 51 minutes gone and a foul on Dzeko gave us a free kick 35 yards out. Nasri took it and I'm guessing the plan was top float one into the box, which he did. The Norwich keeper must have assumed that one of his defenders was going to get a header on it and hesitated, that hesitation cost him as the ball bounced in the six yard box and into the net to make it 2-0 and leaving the keeper looking a little bit stupid.

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68 minutes and it was 3-0, a short corner one two between Silva and Nasri and then the little Spaniard played the ball into Yaya's feet in the box, he took a touch before calmly, as easy as you like, curling the ball into the corner of the net. It looked so easy. Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero made way for Adam Johnson and Mario Balotelli and it almost looked as though City had settled for 3-0 as they seemed to relax and this let Norwich in to claim a consolation goal on 81 minutes, a good ball floated to the far post for Morrison to head home with a good finish. Another pesky goal conceded, and probably deserved for Morrison for who played up front all game on his own and did work hard.

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88 minutes gone and the moment that everyone left talking about. Good work down the left this time between Silva and Clichy, The french full back played the ball across to Yaya who played it into the box for Johnson who had made a good run to the near post, he turned well and played in Balotelli who saw his close range shot saved by the keepers feet, the ball looped up into the air, and as the helpless keeper watched, the ball dropped to Balotelli, standing practically on the goal line, for him to finish. Not with his head or his chest, but with a cheeky, Cooley taken, shoulder, arrogantly shoving the ball into the net to make it 4-1. The coolest finish of the day if not the season. Yes it was cheeky, yes it was cool and yes maybe a tad arrogant. But that's what you get with Mario, entertainment. The great team work and passing that involved Silva, Clichy, Yaya and Johnson will probably be overlooked because of the Mario Factor, but all round, a superb goal.



91st  minute and the full stop was put on the game by Adam Johnson. Silva and Kompany teaming up on the left to bully the Norwich player into conceding possession and Kompany crossed the ball to Johnson on the right of the penalty area. He took a few touches before casually curling the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal to make it 5-1, again making it look far to easy. Afterwards the media would talk about City NOT celebrating their goals as Mario and AJ had been very low key celebrations, but when you score number four and five against a team that had been swept aside, is there any need for over the top celebrations to rub their noses in it ? I don't think there is, so fair enough. Aguero and Nasri had celebrated their goals enough, and Nasri deserved something from this game as this was probably his best display in a city shirt so far and he seemed to be growing more and more into the player we'd bought with every game.



So our first league game in December and STILL unbeaten in the league. Never for a second thought that would happen and still find it quite hard to believe if I'm honest. Our next League game would offer us another test though as we go away to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. Before that though, matters turned once again to Champions League, with Bayern Munich, the team top of our group, coming to the Etihad. Lets all pray to what ever god you believe in that we can beat Bayern and Villarreal can beat Naopli. Doubt it, but i guess you just never know. For now though, another great weekend had by all, still five points clear and going strong. Thanks for reading.