Saturday, 4 December 2010

City 1 - 0 Bolton

  • Our first home league win for more than two months. A strange game; 1-0 feels like one of least appropriate possible score lines. After Carlos Tévez put us ahead in the opening minutes we created enough chances to win the game by an innings, but we were terribly profligate and Bolton had some spells of pressure of their own. A late red card for Aleksandar Kolarov left us hanging on to our lead. But, unlike last Saturday, we held on for the three points.

  • I was hoping for a test to this season's most troubling question: do we still have the imagination required to break down teams that come to Eastlands and defend? Unfortunately, we didn't get an answer. Bolton came out and gave us a good game, defending at times but also committing men and attacking with variety and inhibition. Given our inability to double our lead, there were spells of tension. But Bolton's approach meant that we were always going to create chances, and on a better day we might have scored four or five. Had Bolton been less attacking, though, we would have created less. So it's not a very helpful test of the proposition that we struggle to break down teams that come to Eastlands to defend.

  • But it's worth remembering just how much our goal framed the whole match. It's quite possible that Bolton came with a plan to defend (although I doubt it), but once Tévez had caught Gary Cahill on the turn and finished well the whole pattern was set. In brief, we enjoyed periods of possession, with the occasional move of real intelligence, and created more than enough chances to kill the game. David Silva was the outstanding player, as usual, but both full-backs, Mario Balotelli and Yaya Touré were all lively too. Interspersed among our periods of pressure were good spells from Bolton, which involved a healthy mixture of both pre-Coyle and post-Coyle approaches from Bolton (although some would see that the genius of Coyle is his own ability synthesise 'authentic' Bolton into a new creation of his own). Joe Hart did not have the best game and Bolton did have a few half-chances.

  • But we held on, even with Kolarov sent off for picking up a second yellow card. In the scheme of things, beating Bolton 1-0 at home is not a huge achievement. But every time we cling on to a lead, particularly having been reduced to ten men, it can only strengthen the sense that this is a team that is shuffling in the right direction. West Ham next Saturday, without our captain, will be a very different sort of test.

1 comment:

marty said...

a welcome 3 points, though the persistent displays of disharmony, both toward the manager and between players are becoming a bit of a worry.