Sunday, 21 February 2010

City 0 - 0 Liverpool

  • It might have been a contest for fourth place in the Premier League, but it felt like they were playing for fourth in Serie A. The match was cautious and ponderous, with both teams adopting similar approaches, keen to avoid defeat. If Roberto Mancini was brought in to eliminate the fragilities which brought about the 3-3 draw with Burnley then he's certainly succeeded. But I'm not sure that on current form we could recreate those high-scoring Hughes home games either. Without Carlos Tévez we look utterly goalless.
  • A 0-0 draw was always a likely result today. Both teams approached the game in the same way: with a caution bred by a lack of confidence, and a manager keen on a more tactical, controlling approach to the the game. Both sides were set up in 4-2-3-1 formations, and were more than willing to keep men behind the ball, challenging the opposition to break them down. Both sides missed their star centre forward, and as such lacked any cutting edge. Two of the best players on the pitch were Javier Mascherano and Nigel de Jong, each destroying the other side's attacks. Two shots on target in the whole match says it all.
  • So I suppose the question is whether we should be happy with matching Liverpool at home, and whether we should have been more ambitious? There were some boos at the final whistle - although fewer than against Stoke last Saturday - demonstrating the frustration of some fans with Mancini. I'm not sure what I think of this. It is mildly disappointing to see us play such insipid stuff at home. But we did keep our shape well and limit Liverpool's threats to corners. Until Tévez comes back we can't expect to threaten good defences. Because I don't think we're going to get an expansive style of play any time soon.
  • One complaint: diving. I hate diving, and it upsets me to see Manchester City players doing it. Steven Gerrard was bad today, as he always is, but so were Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson. The idea that English players don't dive has been largely exploded in recent years by Gerrard, Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney but it does still sting a bit to see English players doing it. Particularly when they're English players that play for City. And this isn't just a moral point either. Peter Walton was very liberal today, largely, I think, because of the play-acting of some of the players. Had he been more willing to blow his whistle we might well have got that penalty for Daniel Agger's push on Adebayor.
  • But I'm happy with today: more pluses than minuses. We're defending better than we have all season - perhaps thanks to Kolo Touré's relegation to the bench - and we did well to limit Liverpool to no chances. We've got a bit of work to match the attacking fluidity of Spurs and Aston Villa, but when Tévez comes back and Craig Bellamy gets fit we'll be closer. And we've still got that precious game in hand.


Robert said...

The boos were for the referee.

Culla said...

he had good chances to score (the header in particular), but adebayor led the line better than he has done for ages and should have had a penalty (which if it had been given would have been equalised out with benayoun). if he can do that when carlos is next to him we'll be fine. more presence in the box when we did have attacks would have probably won it for us today; obviously that is normally tevez but it's up to a few others to gamble when we're going forward