Monday, 22 November 2010

Fulham 1 - 4 City

  • For the second time this month we have confronted a mudslide of negativity, accusations regarding harmony off the pitch and imagination on it with the sort of brave, proud away win that can shape a season. Just like the win at the Hawthorns, yesterday's victory came after a decent performance against a strong team and a poor showing against a weak side, and a definite sense of points dropped. And just that that 2-0 it was achieved with some excellent football, a touch of swagger and a very definite sense of solidarity, with each other and of course with Roberto Mancini.

  • So it was the perfect time to produce what was one of the best performances of the season. (Pace Gareth Barry I'd still have the 1-0 win over Chelsea at the top.) Aside from the implications in the Premier League table, just imagine the whole 'Hughes >>> Mancini' narrative that had been fairly pregnant all of last week. But from the moment of Carlos Tévez's fifth minute goal the result looked secure. Our three man midfield dominated possession throughout, and while it can be a hindrance when we're drawing at home, it's perfect when we're ahead on the road.

  • With as much midfield control as we had, it was a case of picking our moments in the final third. Fulham were accomodating: all of our goals were probably preventable, the first and third most obviously. But that is to take nothing away from what was our best attacking display this season. Not only were Tévez and Silva predictably wonderful, but they had more support from deep and wide than ever before this season. This was not the 'broken team' we've seen a lot this year: Aleksandar Kolarov, Pablo Zabaleta and Yaya Touré all attacked whenever possible, allowing us the numbers in the final third we've barely put together this year. Zabaleta scored one and set up another, while Kolarov could have scored and was always a threat with his crossing. I don't know if this was a new approach, but it certainly worked.

  • Fulham didn't have too much of a threat of their own. They had a plan to move the ball wide and swing in crosses, but with only Andy Johnson up front it was not as effective as it would be should they sign Roque Santa Cruz in January. Vincent Kompany and Kolo Touré were as reliable as ever, and aside from their goal Joe Hart had a quiet afternoon. Again, the defensive functionality of the de Jong-Barry-Yaya screen was clear.

  • So despite everything we are three points off the top. It's been a strange season so far, and just like Arsenal and Spurs we have won away games we'd be expected to lose and not won home games we really should have won. After a difficult trip to Stoke City our fixtures start to clear up a bit. If key players stay fit we could have a fruitful December, hopefully without any of the painful convulsions of last Christmas.

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