Monday, 26 September 2011

No Surprises for Man City

Following on from their first dropped points at Craven Cottage last week, when throwing away a 2-0 lead at Fulham last week, the first team needed to come back with a win as the minimum requirement at home to Everton.

The foibles of the Premier League and the power of television in terms of scheduling means it will be rare that both Manchester clubs play at the same time on the same day, save it when they play each other.  So City this week got the benefit of going out there knowing that if they win they will be top for all of four hours.  Luckily, their city rivals United lost their first points of the season at Stoke City in the evening game meaning that there is a tie at the top of the table after six games.  City will feel a bit chirpier, United a little worried.

But should United feel bad about dropping points at Stoke City, a place that is becoming harder and harder to leave with a win.  Liverpool lost there already and Chelsea were lucky to escape with all three points.  Yet Stoke have built up the Britannia as a fortress that has solidified their Premier League status.

Manchester City were playing Everton on Saturday lunchtime.  Now Everton are becoming a strange anamoly as a team who win games without a noted striker on the teamsheet.  A few years ago, as a matter of necessity following a bunch of injuries Tim Cahill was employed in the lone striker role.  Cahill was again employed in that familiar role for himself, but Louis Saha stews on the bench begging to start. 

The need for Cahill playing up front lonesome, was so Everton manager, David Moyes could flood the midfield and disrupt the flow of City's forward momentum.  Yet this sort of tactic needs a more clear cut gameplan, on this occasion Everton did not intend to make shooting opportunities and instead sit back and attempt to not lose the match.  However, no team can withstand an onslaught of attacking prowess for 90 minutes or a slightly skewed referreing performance that favoured the home side and their millions.

Some critics are indicating that Manchester City's eventual 2-0 win thanks to goals from substitutes Mario Balotelli and James Milner (his first for the club) meant that City had passed a test or an obstacle on their way to Premier League glory.  However, when a team sets up like Everton did against a star-studded team it asks for trouble.  Yes it is negative and yes it is in some ways anti-football, but Manchester City have far too much talent to overtake a stubborn Everton defence.

The removal of Aguero for the goalscorer Balotelli, was not a risky strategy is was Mancini having one eye on the Champions League encounter versus Bayern Munich on Tuesday night and he is nursing Balotelli very well.  He scored in midweek against Birmingham City in the Carling Cup, that sort of goal can do wonders for a lost soul such as the young Italian; albeit a goal that took a huge deflection off the lunging Phil Jagielka that Tim Howard (always excellent) could do nothing to prevent.

The bench of City in comparison to Everton's was a huge difference. If Mancini, did not want to use Balotelli he could always use Tevez. 

For Manchester City to win the Premier League they need to not drop points at home and have as few surprises as possible; they need to win games like this against teams that simply do not match up against them.  The odd points dropped away from home at Fulham and Stoke will not hurt any team nor damage title credentials. 

Credit will be given to City once they start going to Stamford Bridge, Emirates, Old Trafford and Anfield and win convincingly - winning a lunchtime game against a striker-less Everton will never set the world alight.  It should not even bother wasting the matches.

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