Q&D – Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City

City completed a league double over Newcastle in one of the most ill-tempered games of the season, but the win came at a cost.

It looked set to be an open game played in good spirit early on, with end to end action. City took the lead after just 8 minutes when a lovely pass by Silva found Kolarov who sent a perfect cross to the feet of Dzeko, and he didn’t miss.

Around 10 minutes before half-time, the theme of the match changed when a Tiote piledriver was disallowed after originally being given. The question is whether the Newcastle player moving out of the way was enough to justify an offside decision. What do you think?

From then on, it was a nasty and disjointed game. Newcastle fans wouldn’t stop booing while the foul count rose. City struggled to cope with what suddenly had become a cup final for Newcastle, and the half-time whistle was well timed.

Alan Pardew likes to present himself a cool and classy customer off the pitch, but has been involved in a lot of controversies over the years. Calling Pellegrini, a respected coach and gentleman, a “fucking old cunt” exposed him as a spiteful and classless character. Anything but a full apology will reflect poorly on a good club.

City fans would have hoped the 15 minute break at half-time would change things, but Newcastle came back out with the same perceived feeling of injustice and for most of the second half had City struggling.

However, a heroic performance by City’s defence and Joe Hart kept out every cross, every long ball, every attempt on goal. After a rare mix-up between Kompany and Zabaleta, Joe Hart made a world class save to maintain City’s lead. Kompany and Demichelis were excellent together at the back.

As mentioned though, the result came at a cost. Firstly, goal scorer Dzeko went off for Navas in what looked to be a tactical change, but Dzeko was seen with an ice pack on one of his shins. It didn’t seem too serious, thankfully.

Then Yaya Toure seemed to take a blow, possibly to his ribs, and was in great pain forcing him off. With it being an impact injury, this also shouldn’t be too bad

And finally, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa viciously injured Nasri with a horror tackle that should have seen red. Nasri was in agony, with early fears that it could be a knee ligament injury, and he had to be stretchered off. Pellegrini has said it is “very serious”.

That tackle summed up Newcastle’s impression of Wimbledon in the second half. Lots of long balls and crosses, but also some pure thuggery. The outrage at the disallowed goal will continue for days, but expect the fact they should have been down to at least 9 men to be glossed over.

Cabaye should have received a second yellow card and Yanga-Mbiwa’s tackle on Nasri was a clear sending off offence.

City showed great character and mentality to hold off Newcastle and won the game late when Negredo found himself one-on-one with Krul, fluffing his lines at first, but with a dose of luck guiding the rebound into the net.

City have now won 9 and drawn 1 of their last 10 Premier League games since the loss to Sunderland. Crucially, that includes 4 wins and 1 draw on the road, so maybe the “City’s away form” stories can go away now.

Next up is the FA Cup replay against Blackburn. After today’s hard work, Pellegrini will have to make changes even if it risks a classic cupset.

Next weekend we’re back at the Etihad against Cardiff, now under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjær. Many will be looking beyond that to the Spurs and Chelsea games, but Pellegrini won’t make that mistake and is keeping his players well focused.

Newcastle United: Krul, Yanga-Mbiwa (Haidara 83), Williamson, S.Taylor, Santon, Anita (Cisse 73), Tiote, Sissoko, Cabaye, Gouffran (Ben Arfa 83), Remy
Subs not used: Gosling, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Elliot

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Yaya Toure (Garcia 60), Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner 79), Silva, Negredo, Dzeko (Navas 52)
Subs not used: Richards, Lescott, Clichy, Pantilimon
Goals: Dzeko 8, Negredo 90+5

Attendance: 49,423

TKA Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:


Q&D – Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Manchester City (FA Cup 3rd round)

At a stretch you could take two positives from today’s 1-1 draw at Ewood Park. 1). We’re still in the FA Cup. 2). Our unbeaten run continues.

On the other hand, there were many negatives in what was a turgid performance from the Blues today. Whether they were tired or just not motivated for an early kick-off against a Championship side is anyone’s guess.

Pellegrini opted for the Negredo/Dzeko partnership again, but it hasn’t really clicked. The ideal would be pairing either with a cultured striker like Aguero or Jovetic, but those two are on the shelf. Today, an extra midfielder might have worked better.

Blackburn flooded the midfield and Fernandinho had to work hard to try and battle three men, while Garcia contributed next to nothing except the occasional header or short pass.

The first half was a bore and the monotonous commentary of Michael Owen must have had many a Blue nodding off. But right on the stroke of half-time, Dzeko got on the end of a corner and his header found Negredo who scored his 15th of the season.

City didn’t really deserve that lead and the performance wasn’t good in the second half either. They seemed to want the win with minimal effort, but in English football even lower league clubs can present a challenge if you aren’t focused.

Despite Blackburn having many chances (and many long throws…), City may still have won the game if not for a howler from Pantilimon. He made a mess of a save, gifting Scott Dann an equaliser 10 minutes into the second half. A recurring nightmare this season, poor individual errors costing us in away games.

City had their chances to win the game, substitute Navas squandering a great opportunity, but the creative spark was missing and it was a lethargic performance.

Too many players didn’t perform today, including Silva, Milner and Garcia. The worst of the lot was Boyata who was poor in every respect and got himself sent off for a second yellow card after kicking out.

In his own words, “stupid”. He’s now 23 and there are no excuses for such childish petulance, especially when 20-year-old Nastasic is on the same team and managed to control himself after getting booked.

The fact that Boyata had to play at right-back exposed one of several small holes in City’s allegedly world class squad. Micah Richards’ inability to stay fit for long has left us with no natural right-back to rotate with Zabaleta.

So, another game is added to the fixture pile-up, a replay at the Etihad. City had planned some warm weather training and a friendly in the UAE during that week, a trip that will presumably now be cancelled.

Pellegrini was asked about the transfer window after the game and said the same as recently, that he is happy with the squad, but did not rule out movement in January.

I’m not sure many Blues would want City to pass up the chance to strengthen, but it would help if certain players could stay fit for more than a week. Rodwell, Richards and Jovetic would surely have played today if available.

Blackburn: Robinson, Henley, Dann, Hanley, Spurr, Williamson (King 64), Cairney, Lowe, Taylor, Marshall (Campbell 81), Gestede (Rhodes 81)
Subs not used: Eastwood, Kilgallon, Rochina, Judge
Goal: Dann 55

Manchester City: Pantilimon, Boyata, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy, Milner, Garcia, Fernandinho (Yaya Toure 64), Silva (Zabaleta 88), Dzeko, Negredo (Navas 75)
Subs not used: Hart, Kompany, Kolarov, Lopes

Attendance: 18,813 (officially 7,526 City fans – unofficially, a lot more)

TKA Man of the Match: Fernandinho

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:

Q&D – Swansea 2-3 Manchester City

City’s splendid resurgence on the road continued in rainy South Wales this afternoon with a 2-3 win over Swansea.

This was City’s first win at Swansea since 1984, but more relevantly City’s first win at the Liberty Stadium on third attempt since they returned to the Premier League.

Swansea dominated possession in the early stages and you wondered if Pellegrini’s decision to play two big men up front would backfire. But when the ball fell to Fernandinho at the edge of the box from a corner, he blasted it home to give City an early lead.

City had chances to score more, but there were more wasteful moments in front of goal and City paid for that when Wilfried Bony equalised just before half-time. He was well offside but on the balance of play, Swansea deserved an equaliser.

Early in the second half, one could be forgiven for fearing an all-too-familiar collapse away from home, but Yaya Toure’s deflected shot put City ahead again in the 58th minute. Yaya had been poor in the first half, but as he tends to do came up with the goods by scoring his 10th goal of a productive campaign.

8 minutes later and rather than make us suffer with a nervy 1-2 scoreline, Kolarov decided to run half the pitch after dispossessing a Swansea player, using a decoy run from Yaya to score with his right foot. His right foot! This was a quality goal.

Bony scored a cracking goal early in stoppage time to make it 2-3 so City did make us suffer for a couple of minutes, but Swansea didn’t trouble City any further and one of our numerous away day hoodoos was put to rest. Swansea played well, but City deserved to win in what was a much better display at the Liberty than we saw under Mancini.

There were some fantastic performances today, with Navas and Fernandinho probably the pick of the bunch. Navas just never stopped running, proving to be a menace in attack but always tracking back and contributing defensively. Besides his goal, Fernandinho was a machine in midfield with 4 tackles (City’s highest), 3 interceptions (City’s joint highest with Nastasic) and some lovely forward passes.

A gripe with today’s performance? The defensive side of our game still seems shaky, with Swansea passing through our defensive line freely at times and creating chances. He isn’t highly rated by many, but Garcia’s introduction (in place of the uncharacteristically poor Negredo) meant that although he did little with the ball, he screened the defence quite well, reducing Swansea’s threat and allowing Yaya to get forward.

City’s incredible run of form continues. Since that sickening 0-1 loss at Sunderland, it has been 11 wins and 1 draw, with no defeats. With Blackburn away (FA Cup round 3) and West Ham home (Capital One Cup semi final first leg) to come, you’d fancy that to continue before some tricky fixtures such as Newcastle away and Spurs away.

Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Flores, Williams, Davies, De Guzman, Canas, Hernandez (Lamah 10), Shelvey (Pozuelo 81), Routledge, Bony
Subs not used: Zabret, Tiendalli, Amat, Taylor, Vazquez.
Goals: Bony 45 & 90

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Navas (Rodwell 90), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Nasri (Milner 70), Negredo (Garcia 59), Dzeko
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Boyata.
Goals: Fernandinho 14, Yaya 58, Kolarov 66

Attendance: 20,498 (sold out)

TKA Man of the Match: Jesús Navas

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:

Q&D – Manchester City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Palace came to Manchester in typical Tony Pulis fashion – stubborn and very defensive, but decent on the break. Fair play to them because to attack us with their personnel would have been naive and they came closer to snatching a draw than most other teams.

The game was a frustrating one for City fans. Many chances were squandered and the tempo wasn’t great, but it’s worth remembering the gap between the grueling Liverpool match and today’s was one of the shortest in Premier League history. Those playing again will have suffered physically and the usage of fringe players means a drop in quality in some cases.

City had their chances to make this easier than it was, with a staggering 23 shots, but many of them were wasted.

It was a case of chipping away and trying to unlock a resilient Palace, who left very little space between defence and midfield. They also had some good chances, with the fantastic Joe Hart (sporting a nasty cut eye after a collision) making a couple of crucial saves.

The relief was obvious and a huge roar went up at the Etihad when the lively Jesus Navas notched up his second assist in two games, squaring the ball to Dzeko to fire home his 50th goal for City. Dzeko hadn’t been playing well at all, but in typical Dzeko & Hyde fashion he scored out of nowhere to win us the game.

Palace pushed for an equaliser but City stood strong and picked up a crucial 3 points in a turgid game. One of those you’re just happy to have over and done with.

City end December with 8 wins, 1 draw and 0 defeats in all competitions. If there is any justice in the world, Pellegrini will be handed his first Barclays Manager of the Month award soon.

January promises more challenges, including trips to Swansea, Newcastle and Spurs in the league. Not easy, but this City team has a strong mentality and are finally top of the league – until tomorrow at least.

Manchester City: Hart, Boyata (Negredo 55), Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Fernandinho (Nasri 55), Garcia, Navas, Silva, Milner (Kolarov 75), Dzeko
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Lescott, Toure, Rodwell
Goal: Dzeko 66

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Parr, Puncheon, Ward, Jedinak, Bannan (Gayle 81), Bolasi (Williams 76), Jerome (Chamakh 35)
Subs not used: Campana, Phillips, Moxey, Price

Attendance: 47,151 (sold out)

TKA Man of the Match: Joe Hart

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:

Q&D – Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool

It may not get any tougher than this at Fortress Etihad in what remains of the Premier League season.

Liverpool came to town flying high as the table-toppers at Christmas and gave City their toughest Premier League battle this season at the Etihad in a fantastic game.

Both teams were hit by injuries, but City really seemed to miss the presence of Aguero alongside Negredo at times.

The quick return of Zabaleta helped massively, and with someone out-of-position instead of him at right-back the result may have been different. Zaba made some big tackles and his new song was belted out repeatedly by a noisy City crowd.

Liverpool played some quality football and took the lead through Coutinho, but that didn’t last long before Captain Kompany took matters into his own hands, leaping high with a header to level it.

Negredo scored a crucial goal for the Blues shortly before half-time, the ninth game in a row he has scored at the Etihad. His shot with the outside of his boot was perhaps overly elaborate, but clumsy handling by Mignolet helped it cross the line.

The second half was another nerve-shredding occasion, much like the Fulham game. Liverpool wanted the equaliser and pushed hard for it, while City could have killed the game with chances at the other end.

Joe Hart, in his first marquee game since returning as City’s Premier League keeper, made some crucial saves and had a fantastic game. This was reminiscent of the Joe Hart from the title-winning season who helped us win many points.

City’s defence did a good job against Suarez, who was a menace again, but there were still issues and Liverpool cut the defence open a little too easily at times.

Suarez troubled City, but the defence managed to limit his chances and kept him off the score-sheet. His theatrics, though, were poor again as he tried to con the referee into several decisions.

City held on for a huge 2-1 win against one of the league’s form teams. Liverpool fans are not happy about an offside decision against Sterling when it was 0-0, and they are right, but they took the lead anyway.

Once again, City showed character to come back from 0-1 behind with the likes of Kompany, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva, Nasri and Negredo all showing great attitudes and working tirelessly for the entire match.

City remain flawless at home and on paper only Chelsea look a major threat to the unbeaten record, but as we know football is a funny old game and someone like Southampton could spring a surprise like Norwich did last season.

Pellegrini continues to do a fantastic job in his first season in English football and has City challenging on four fronts, despite constant injuries to key players.

City sit nicely in 2nd place, just a point behind Arsenal, are in the last 16 of the Champions League, semi finals of the Capital One Cup, and are soon to enter the FA Cup.

There is still half a season to go, but the signs are good.

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Yaya Toure, Fernandinho, Navas, Silva (Garcia 86), Nasri (Milner 71), Negredo (Dzeko 76)
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Clichy, Boyata, Nastasic
Goals: Kompany 30, Negredo 45

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Sakho, Skrtel, Cissokho, Lucas (Aspas 81), Sterling, Henderson, Allen, Coutinho (Moses 67), Suarez
Subs not used: Jones, Toure, Agger, Alberto, Smith
Goal: Coutinho 23

Attendance: 47,351 (sold out)

TKA Man of the Match: Vincent Kompany

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:

Q&D – Fulham 2-4 Manchester City

If there was ever a “Match of the Day” game, this was it. Highlights galore in 90 minutes of the sublime, the ridiculous and the downright calamitous.

Fulham away is never a fixture that induces great excitement, just one of those routine games you hope to pick up 3 points in. This was anything but routine.

The match was something of a bore for the first 20 minutes or so, with few chances and little imagination from either team. That changed when Silva was brought down and Yaya scored yet another free kick golazo, his 11th goal in all competitions to make this his best goal scoring season ever (with more than half of it to go!).

Yaya golazo

20 minutes later City made it two, an excellent free kick from Silva finding the head of Demichelis (who is proving very valuable both in defence and up front). Stekelenburg saved Demichelis’ header, but Kompany was on hand to score his first goal of the season.

Kompany goal vs. Fulham

0-2 at half-time flattered us a little as it had been a fairly even game and Taarabt was proving a menace. Still, City looked a safe bet to ease their way to victory in the second half. Oh, but we should know better by now in these so-called “easy” away games.

Clichy, filling in for the injured Zabaleta and Richards at right-back, had a nightmare and was caught out several times. One of them turned out to be costly as he slipped and Taarabt had a free run to the box, squaring it to Kieran Richardson to slot past the recalled Joe Hart.

City like to toy with our nerves and when Kompany sliced a clearance into his own goal, you didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This was up there with Jamie Pollock’s legendary own goal. And it had Navas trying to karate kick the post for extra Benny Hill effect.

From 0-2 to 2-2, another away day disaster was on the cards. Typical City?

Fulham looked hungry for the third, but City managed to hold it together and some good work led to substitute Navas scoring his 4th goal of the season after good work from Negredo and Silva. An absolutely crucial goal.

Navas goal vs. Fulham

Our nerves were only frayed for 5 more minutes before another sub, the in-form James Milner, latched on to one of the best passes you’ll ever see from Negredo, to make it 2-4. Game over and thank heavens for that.

Negredo's pass... err, Milner's goal

The full-time whistle was mercifully blown and what was both a hugely entertaining and nerve-shredding game came to an end.

It’s now 8 wins and 1 draw for City in all competitions since that away loss to Sunderland, but again this was no routine win. Pellegrini will have to reassess the right-back position with Luispool coming to the Etihad, unless, that is, Zabaleta can return in time for the game.

Credit to the lads for staying strong at 2-2 and fighting hard for the win. A win that could prove crucial come the end of the season.

Fulham: Stekelenburg, Riether, Senderos (Amorebieta 37), Hughes, Riise, Karagounis (Bent 82), Parker, Sidwell, Richardson, Dejagah (Kasami), Taarabt
Subs not used: Ruiz, Kacaniklic, Stockdale, Duff
Goals: Richardson 50, Kompany (OG) 69

Manchester City: Hart, Clichy, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Nasri (Milner 75), Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Silva (Garcia 84), Dzeko (Navas 58), Negredo
Subs not used: Pantilimon, Boyata, Rodwell, Guidetti
Goals: Yaya 23, Kompany 43, Navas 78, Milner 83

Attendance: 25,509 (sold out)

TKA Man of the Match: David Silva

Stats courtesy of WhoScored:

Q&D – Leicester City 1-3 Manchester City

City reached the semi finals of the Capital One Cup tonight with a comfortable win over Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

Pellegrini named a stronger side than just about everyone expected, with Kompany, Silva and Zabaleta all starting despite playing in the 6-3 win over Arsenal.

There was also confusion when City named only 6 subs, with Jovetic and Guidetti among the absentees who it was thought could play a part. Jovetic fell ill an hour before the game and City had no one else present to put on the bench!

City took the lead after just 8 minutes and what a special goal it was as Kolarov launched a stunning free kick into the top corner from around 30 yards out.

Minutes later the risk of including big guns partially backfired with Zabaleta pulling up and clutching his hamstring. An angry Zabaleta punched the pitch then headed up the tunnel, leaving City without a natural right-back following Micah’s latest injury.

Boyata replaced Zabaleta and looked uneasy, getting a quick yellow card and struggling. He improved a lot as the game went on, but would be a risky choice in the position for some of the tougher upcoming games.

City dominated the first half and the second goal was much deserved when good work from Navas and Milner led to the again impressive Milner crossing for Dzeko to head home.

It was 0-2 to City at half-time but could have been more if not for some fine saves from City academy graduate Kasper Schmeichel, who had a good game.

Milner fed Dzeko again early in the second half, the Bosnian Diamond continuing his prolific goal scoring record away from home in what was a good follow-up performance from him after he led the line so well in Munich.

City’s performance levels dropped as the second half went on, understandable with the match practically won. Leicester pulled one back through Lloyd Dyer and tried for a second, but Joe Hart was never really threatened.

City are now a two-legged semi final from a return to Wembley. There are some potentially huge semi final clashes, including a two-legged Manchester derby like in early 2010 (we’d rather forget the second leg), and the draw takes place after the final two quarter finals tomorrow night.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Wasilewski, Morgan, Miquel, Konchesky, Knockaert (James 45), Drinkwater, King, Dyer, Taylor-Fletcher (Vardy 45), Nugent (Schlupp 68)
Subs not used: De Laet, Hammond, Moore, Logan
Goal: Dyer 77

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta (Boyata 12), Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Javi Garcia, Rodwell, Jesus Navas, Silva (Nasri 69), Milner, Dzeko
Subs not used: Negredo, Fernandinho, Demichelis, Pantilimon
Goals: Kolarov 8, Dzeko 41 + 53

TKA Man of the Match: James Milner

Stats courtesy of WhoScored: