MANCHESTER CITY 2
Tevez 43, Yaya Toure 70
It wasn’t a classic performance by any means but when City look back on the 2010/11 campaign, this could well be one of their most important results. On the back of a last-gasp defeat to Sunderland and a disappointing home draw against Blackburn, there was a fear that Roberto Mancini’s men could again fail to finish off their lesser opponents. The Eastland’s side, however, grinded out what proved to be a comfortable 2-0 victory in a rain soaked and waterlogged DW Stadium. Although both goals came courtesy of appalling defending by Wigan, it was City’s ability to finish off their chances, something that was lacking in their past two fixtures, which was key.
Roberto Mancini’s defensive line-up raised a few eyebrows before kick-off, particularly considering the Latics have only picked up a single point at home this season, leaking 11 goals in the process. Carlos Tevez again featured as the lone-striker whilst the five man midfield contained three defensive players. Mancini’s cautious approach may well have reflected his side’s wretched away form at Wigan – before yesterday they had never won at the DW. True, these sort of statistics can have a psychological effect but Roberto Martinez’s side are a worse outfit so far this season than they have been in the past and it would have been interesting to see how City had performed had they thrown caution to the wind from the start.
2 Richards – 28 K.Toure – 4 Kompany – 5 Zabaleta
21 Silva – 34 De Jong – 18 Barry – 42 Y.Toure – 7 Milner
72 – 11 A.Johnson on for 21 Silva
74 – 27 Jo on for 42 Y.Toure
88 – 8 Wright-Phillips on for 32 Tevez
Adam Johnson was the surprise omission from the starting XI and his creativity and link-up play with Tevez was clearly missed in the first-half. The Argentine seemed isolated, highlighted in particular in the 13th minute when he was forced to shoot because there was no support on the left for him to play the ball towards, and with Wigan happy to keep the midfield clogged and hope for a lucky break, City were frustrated until two minutes before half-time. It was a gift of a chance, as Joe Hart’s goal-kick was inadvertently headed on by Mohamed Diame and missed by three Wigan defenders as it fell towards Tevez who was able to clip over the on-rushing Ali Al-Habsi. Going into the break ahead was perhaps flattering on City but they came out for the second-half much more positive. The midfield started to get forward more and this culminated in the second goal. Again Wigan’s poor defending was to blame, Manuel Figueroa attempted to clear the ball in the box but his awful header only found City’s captain and he crossed from the right towards Yaya Toure who was able to hit home. Martinez’ men were to have one late chance, their best of the game, with a close header from Diame but it came to nothing and Johnson, a substitute for David Silva, almost made it three for City when his cross was deflected and hit the bar.
The ability to dig deep and get results out of games like this is always a sign of a top side and whilst it may not have been a scintillating performance, it was certainly a job well done. David Silva looked a real talent, his passing was particularly impressive, and fans have been calling for the Spaniard and Adam Johnson to be played together which would surely be a daunting prospect for the opposition, whilst Tevez again was at the centre of most of the action, creating chances and testing the Wigan keeper on a number of occasions.
City sit fourth in the Premier League, just three points behind second placed Arsenal, Mario Balotelli and Emmanuel Adebayor are still in the treatment room and the team have yet to properly gel or even hit top form so there are plenty of positives. All talk so far has been on how Chelsea‘s season starts next weekend with their trip to Eastland’s but one cannot also help but feel City’s own campaign may just have properly kicked off against Wigan.