Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fulham 1 - 2 City

  • In September 2007 we were 3-2 up against Fulham. But Vedran Ćorluka missed a high ball, Danny Murphy pounced and we drew 3-3. In April 2008 we were 2-0 up against Fulham, but Ćorluka slipped, Jihai Sun gave away a penalty, Kamara scored a second and we lost 3-2. In December 2008 we went 1-0 up against Fulham but we lost Jimmy Bullard and drew 1-1. In April 2009 we went 1-0 up against Fulham but goals from Clint Dempsey and Dickson Etuhu put hem ahead and we lost 3-1. And in October 2009 we went 2-0 up against Fulham but they pulled back two quick goals and we drew 2-2.
  • So to go 2-0 up and hold on is a huge, precedent-breaking achievement. Roberto Mancini was brought in to impose some efficiency, some ruthlesness to what was becoming a typically hectic and chaotic season. And based on results like this, he's succeeding. Another stat: Mancini has now won three away league games from seven - Hughes won four from 28. It was more believable a game than the one at Stamford Bridge, but it felt even better for it. The 4-2 was so astonishing, it could never really be used as a template. But today was a lesson in how to play away.
  • We never had to play too well to succeed. Fulham's players and fans were clearly drained from Thursday night. Their front two, Bobby Zamora and Zoltan Gera both came off within an hour. Their initial game plan was releasing Zamora into the right channel, with little else beside. Recognising this, we were quite willing to sit back, cede them enough possession, and hit them on the break. Both of our first two goals came through breaks from our two thrilling counter-attackers, Craig Bellamy and Carlos Tévez. With every game this season, the importance of Bellamy and Tévez glares brighter and brighter. We're nothing without them, but with them we can do anything.
  • Bellamy is Tévez's fellow talisman, but not his strike partner. Today that was Roque Santa Cruz, who was excellent. As well as Adebayor has performed at times, he does not look like a natural partner for Tévez, such is his lack of focus. But Santa Cruz looked ideal. He held the ball up, creating space for Tévez, as well as giving us a perfect option to relieve pressure. We were helped in this regard by the absence of Brede Hangeland. Chris Smalling won almost nothing; with Hangeland up against Santa Cruz we would have achieved much less. An interesting lesson given Adebayor's return against Everton.
  • This result was only as good as Tottenham's was yesterday. All we have done is keep pace with them. But that is an achievement. The important point from now is to maintain the position whereby wins over Villa and Spurs at Eastlands win us fourth. That means allowing Spurs no more than a point or two lead over us between now and then. It won't be easy, but it's accessible. And it all starts again with Everton on Wednesday - a team we have as bad a recent record against as we did against Fulham.

1 comment:

jackblue said...

6 at home now for City and spurs have to play United Chelsea and Arsenal as well the visit to our place. Well truly on now given the fantastic return of 7 points from the last 3 difficult away games.