Sunday, 31 January 2010

City 2 - 0 Pompey

  • A poor game, and not a particularly good performance - but three points, and the strides of our rivals matched. The risk of letting Wednesday night suck the life out of our season seems to have been avoided. I said before that this could provide the same buzz of optimism a few weeks into the Mancini era as the 6-0 did last season, a few weeks into Hughes' reign. It wasn't nearly as thrilling as that. But it was good enough: one point behind fourth with two games in hand.
  • As predicted, Emmanuel Adebayor returned to partner Carlos Tévez up front. But the midfield was a surprise: Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry kept their places, and were joined by Martin Petrov and Stephen Ireland. The team started off in a 4-3-1-2 with Petrov in the hole, later moving to a 4-4-2 with Petrov wide on the right and Gareth Barry on the left. Set up like that, we could only really play through the middle, which when it does not work is rather frustrating. And Portsmouth contributed to this, of course, being much better organised than we could have expected.
  • They even unsettled us, at times. There were spells where they built up pressure. Jamie O'Hara hit the bar and hit a shot wide. Frédéric Piquionne nearly scored by accident late on. If this had been the Portsmouth of Niko Kranjčar, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe we would not have got away with it. But it wasn't. So we did.
  • And it was occassional moments of quality than swung the game towards us. First Stephen Ireland picked out Adebayor with a 40 yard through ball reminiscent of some of those he played in this fixture last season. Ade controlled it well and finished expertly past City old-boy David James. The second goal - just before the break - came as Vincent Kompany evaded another former blue, Tal Ben Haim, to head in Petrov's corner. With a 2-0 lead at half time the points looked assured.
  • Now it's one week off before a run of six big games in twenty-one days. A full back and maybe a winger in within the next twenty four hours and we will be well set.