Wednesday, 4 March 2009

City 2 - 0 Villa

I didn't watch the game so if you want insights on the match I'm afraid you'll have to go elsewhere.

But as a win it's fantastic. Villa are the highest placed team that we've beaten this season, with the second best away record in the Premier League. And this with our two best forwards out injured (never mind Richards and everyone else), Nigel de Jong going off at half time. It seems like the team really stepped up today in a way that they haven't always done this season.

The way that we're now much better at holding leads at home is impressive. Remember that we were ahead and lost against Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham. But in recent months we've been only one goal ahead for long periods against Wigan, Newcastle, Middlesboro and now Villa, and won all four of those games. Our away form still precludes us from really building on our eighth place in the league. But this is still a big win.

If you were there, please let me know what you thought.


Steven McInerney said...

Very strong performance. It would have been much more comfortable had De Jong not picked up a knock.

Onuoha and Dunne dealt with everything. Young, who was their best player and only real threat, beat Zabaleta a couple of times, but that was inevitable seeing as it seemed the instructions were 'Pass to Ashley'... Bridge was relatively solid. Oh and I was impressed with Ned's composure on the ball on occasions. He was in some tricky situations at times, but twisted and turned out of them with an almost Kompany esque ease!

De Jong and Kompany completely bullied Petrov and Barry in the first half. Kompany carried on that increasingly frequent trend of getting forward whenever he could. However he disappeared to an extent in the second half - though to be fair on him, as did most, and this was only cos the excellent De Jong took a knock. The standard in quality between De Jong and Gelson is shockingly big.

Ireland, SWP and Elano were great. Ireland was initially stationed on the left, with Elano in the centre, and SWP on the right. Ireland was absolutely everywhere. Always getting behind the Villa defence. SWP seemed to move out to the left in the second half, and when Villa did try and step it up he was a great outlet. He kept hold of the ball and had the full back constantly backing off.

Fantastic movement, some great runs from SWP, and great passing from the other two. Elano wasn't at his best, but he'd definitely fall into the 7.5/10 category. His penalty, as we've come to expect, was flawless. Truly.

Caicedo had a bit of a nothing game, and was rightly substituted by Evans who put in a great shift.

Hughes then boldy decided to bring off Elano for Bojinov and revert to a standard 4-4-2. This worked well we created 3 or 4 good chances at the end as the ball seemed to stay up the good of the pitch with much greater frequency. Credit to Hughes here. He obviously sensed attack was the best form of defence, and he was right.

All in all, a very solid and deserved win. Could have much simpler as well had we kept Mr De Jong on! Great to see the Boj back as well. The man always wants the ball and the two/three passes I saw him make were straight to feet and incisive.

All in all, good stuff - and deserved too!


Steven McInerney said...

ps - I felt a bit harsh then on Zab. I forgot to mention that he was as per usually highly dependable and made some fantastic tackles.

trinder said...

A well put and accurate report. SWP was almost unplayable last night, his performance as good as the best we've seen from Ireland this season. The back four, especially Dunne and Onouha, felt secure and should serve us well against Aalborg, where we simply must not concede.

If there was any weak area, it was in the second half behind Bridge. Milner and Heskey got too many crosses from the byline.

Gav said...

put it on the blog as a guest post!

Jon Whitwam said...

Well, I think Steven McInerney has pretty-much sorted it - but from my perspective:

A great game - Highlights were Zabaleta bossing Ashley Young who was obviously becoming really frustrated (I almost caught the dummy he spat in the first half, and I sit on the last but one row of the Colin Bell L3, just to the right of the center line!). Ned and Dunnie both solid in defence. Bridge did better than previous games, making some killer blocks/interceptions, and also incisive runs down the left. Elano's bit of Brazilian magic to play him to the byline was delightful! Kompany & De Jong were strong and resolute in midfield - nullifying the threat of Barry & Petrov. Elano had one of his better games this season, although could have improved by chasing even more "lost causes". SWP - well what can I say - awesome! This guy is made of rubber - every time he was kicked (and there were a lot of times) he just bounced back up, and got on with it - superb! Took his goal well, but should have had a couple more at least. Stevie (Superman) Ireland - some sublime touches - great runs, chasing back to help in defence, great blocks - still my player of the moment to be honest. Caicedo - unremarkable really. Did well in the first half, holding the ball up, but seems unable to put in the required challenges and work to give him that bit extra. Bozhinov - warming up for a good 20 minutes in the 1st half, and pretty-much all of the 2nd half - when he got the call from Sparky, could get back to the bench, stripped and on to the field fast enough! Well received from the City faithful - and a great 8-10 minutes of play - he impressed me! Some lovely interplay between him and Ched Evans. Need to play him for a full half next, I think! Ched Evans - excellent - strong, resilient, lovely touches, fast - why on earth didn't Sparky play him from the start instead of Caicedo? I would, every time!

Overall, a great team performance,m without our two leading lights! Maybe this team is the one we should play in away matches?

433 said...

well done, lads.

433 said...

But this business of bringing in Wenger strikes me as silly, and disrespectful to Hughes.

Jon Whitwam said...

Who said anything about Wenger?

trinder said...

The Telegraph has turned gossip rag, carrying some cobblers about Wenger and Messi joining in the summer.

433 said...

The Telegraph was my source.