Tuesday, 9 February 2010

City 2 - 0 Bolton

  • It wasn't beautiful but it was three points. If you despaired of Mark Hughes' home draws from winning positions against Fulham, Burnley and Hull then you have no real authority to criticise these solid but fairly pedestrian home wins. Jonathan Wilson wrote in Inverting the Pyramid that all football tactics are trade-offs between defensive solidity and attacking fluidity. Mancini, in replacing Hughes, has re-balanced the scales in favour of the former at the expense of the latter. If you found today's win, and that over Portsmouth unfulfilling, then I can only hope you were happy with Hughes' 4-2-4 and the 3-3 with Burnley and 2-2 with Fulham - its natural offspring. It's one or the other blues.
  • The gameplan was clear. Sticking with the 4-3-3 from the last half hour at Hull, Mancini hoped that a trio of Nigel de Jong, Gareth Barry and Patrick Vieira would dominate the midfield. They did for the first twenty minutes, before Bolton started to push us back. There were some nice moves, but more often than not they involved Wayne Bridge pushing up from left-back, rather than progress from midfield. With neither of the strikers in form, for much of the game our main attacking threat was from Adam Johnson running with the ball.
  • Not that this wasn't good or anything. If Johnson represents the level of young British talent we can attract to Eastlands then we're in for some fun. He was excellent, starting in the hole but drifting onto both wings at will, and doing his best work as an outside right. He made the first goal and did a fantastic job of relieving pressure by carrying the ball forward. It was exhillirating stuff, and the best home debut since Shay Given against Middlesbrough just over a year ago. More like that please, Brian Marwood.
  • This isn't to say that we were defensively flawless, though. Kevin Davis' tireless work created space for Lee Chung-Yong and Jack Wilshere and there were times when we looked shaky. Bolton ought to have had a penalty when Kolo Touré brought down Johan Elmander in the box. When Touré went off for Joleon Lescott we looked a bit safer, and we finished the game well.
  • Our strong finish was down to one of Mancini's famed tactical switches. Wayne Bridge came off for his best mate Shaun Wright-Phillips, Gareth Barry went to left back and we went to 4-4-2. We were able to push Bolton further back and Emmanuel Adebayor soon scored his our second - his third in three, with a strike similar to but better than his against Portsmouth last Sunday. The points were assured, which is all that really matters at this stage of the season. Next up, the FA Cup.

1 comment:

David said...

well put there jpb. i think getting results like this when were not firing on all cylnders, keeping a strong lead with little threat from the oppenents will do for me.

Football is about winning, something arsene wenger is yet to learn!