The second home game of the season sees City flying high trailing United on goal difference only and playing scintillating attacking football that has got everyone’s attention. Last season’s equivalent game was a drab affair as City played the defensive setup that was bemoaned by Mancini’s detractors.
The side picked today saw several changes from the one that played so well at White Hart Lane. Tevez came in for Dzeko who dropped to the bench. Aguero started alongside his compatriot and Adam Johnson replaced the injured Nasri who also started from the bench. The final change saw James Milner replace the injured Gareth Barry. If you look at the players who have come in today you can truly see the depth of squad that City possess.
City kicked off right to left and were instantly on the defensive but good work from Lescott and Kompany saw the ball cleared. A minute later and Johnson almost found Tevez with a lovely ball floated over the Wigan left back.
City were pressing every time Wigan found themselves in possession. Four minutes in after a beautiful through ball by Aguero and a cross from Clichy Johnson found himself on the ball in the box with no one challenging. He attempted a clever floated ball when he really should have shot. First real chance though.
City were looking in control of the game. The centre halves and full backs gathering the ball every time it came near them and the passing and movement of the midfield and forwards was brilliant.
Nine minutes in and the ball fell nicely to Richards on the right. He took the ball forward before cutting it back for Silva on the edge of the Wigan box. The crowd held their collective breath as the little magician pulled back and let fly with his favoured left boot. On target the ball flew, but the Wigan keeper was up to it.
Seconds later and a corner to city saw a brilliant bicycle kick from Tevez which came unfortunately off Lescott for a goal kick. City though were soon in possession again with Tevez and Silva involved. Neat work in the box and Silva cut the ball across to Aguero ten yards out. Aguero dropped his shoulder one way, went the other and placed the ball in the net beyond the despairing Wigan keeper. One nil.
Disaster nearly struck seconds after the goal when a high ball up field saw Kompany one on one with the Wigan attacker in a straight sprint for the ball. Kompany slipped and the Wigan player was through on goal but his shot went wide of the far post.
On seventeen minutes Silva found Johnson on the right and overlapped. Johnson played Silva through with a neat flick and Silva headed for the by-line before being upended by an outstretched leg. The flag waived the whistle went….penalty. Tevez took the ball placed it on the spot and got ready to make it two nil. The shot was weak and too close to the keeper and was saved.
City didn`t let the miss affect them and were quickly on the attack again this time it was Lescott who brought the ball up pitch playing neat one twos with Silva and Clichy. The ball found Aguero whose floated curling shot was just wide of the post. Seconds later it was Johnson dancing through the Wigan defence earning a corner which Milner took. As the ball was cleared it fell kindly to Johnson who unleashed a ferocious shot which went over the bar.
Twenty seven minutes and Richards went on one of his trademark overlaps and was found by Tevez. Richards ran through one on one with the keeper he played a clever flick which looked every inch a goal until it struck the underneath of the crossbar and came back out into play.
City seemed to slow the pace a bit on the half hour mark which allowed Wigan more possession, but as Wigan got sucked in city were ever threatening with the counter attack.
With ten minutes to go Milner was taking another corner on the city right. Kompany rose majestically and his header had the keeper beaten hands down, but once more the woodwork saved Wigan.
As the half drew to a close once more city were being a statisticians dream with a plethora of shots and shots on target to Wigan’s paltry two off target efforts and close to seventy per cent of possession. A couple of things were amiss with the city team though. Johnson seemed to be on a different wave length to the other city forwards and Tevez simply can`t pass.
City kicked off the second half with no changes to either team and were quickly on the offensive as Tevez brought a sharp save from the Wigan keeper within thirty seconds. City followed this with a short corner which Silva whipped into the box nearly finding Lescott`s head.
City were still playing well but Johnson was subscribing to the Tevez school of passing and couldn`t find a city shirt with even the simplest of passes. This was costing city as attacks were breaking down with misplaced passes and even with the lion`s share of possession and the majority of shots, the score was still one nil and mistakes could let Wigan back into it.
Silva and Clichy combined well on the left on fifty six minutes going through the Wigan defence like a hot knife through butter but the shot Silva released was saved well by the Wigan keeper.
With half an hour to go Wigan replaced Boyce was replaced by Stam and Nasri stripped down to his kit ready to enter the fray for the poor Tevez who had his usual industry but seemed to have forgotten how to pass and how to shoot.
Nasri announced his entrance within two minutes combining wonderfully with Silva on the left of midfield moving the ball up and playing a sublime through ball to Aguero who beat the keeper with aplomb, curling the ball into the net. Two nil.
Soon after, Silva found the ball at his feet surrounded by three Wigan players. He jinked one way then the other, past one, past two and another trick found him past all three. He caught a glimpse of Aguero running through and played the perfect ball through the Wigan defence giving Aguero the simplest of finishes for his hat trick and the match ball.
Within a minutes Wigan had made their final two changes and Aguero was replaced by Super Mario. This was turning into another master-class by city and a double master-class by Silva. Aguero may have had a hat trick but Silva was man of the match in my opinion pulling the strings like a master puppeteer in midfield.
Eleven minutes to go and the excellent Toure was replaced by youngster Abdul Razak. City were slowing the pace of the game down now but still controlled the ball brilliantly. My only worry is if the title comes down to goal difference, city have spurned as many chances as they had scored goals today.
With the game drawing to a close the city had taken twenty four shots at the wigan goal over half of which had been on target. A far cry from the corresponding fixture last season.
As the final whistle went, special mentions must be made today of James Milner who played the Barry role as well as Barry ever could and to little David Silva who once again showed the world how football should be played.
Joe Hart – 8
Didn’t have much to do but his distribution is excellent this season and he made one pass out to the left that was inch perfect.
Micah Richards – 8
Worked tirelessly up and down the right side. Put his body on the line time and time again and he really should have scored. Without doubt developing into the best right back in England
Vincent Kompany – 8
Another Captain’s performance by Vincent. Strong, intelligent and a real leader of men. Made some amazing tackles today.
Joleon Lescott – 8.5
Joleon has returned to his best ever form. A threat from set plays and a genuine international centre-half.Could have had a goal and went on a run upfield playing one two’s with Silva and Clichy that was sublime.
Gael Clichy – 8
As good on the left as Richards is on the right. Clichy has settled right into the team and combined well with Milner and Silva. Put in some good crosses and looked dangerous every time he crossed the halfway line.
Yaya Toure – 8
Didn’t get up pitch as often but he is playing a holding role in the absence of De Jong. Was disciplined and rarely put a pass wrong.
James Milner – 8.5
An outstanding performance by Milner. He showed maturity and an understanding of the game as he stepped into Barry’s shoes. He broke up play and distributed with real class and helped supplement the attack when City were in possession. I really like his style of play.
Adam Johnson – 6.5
Nearly a seven as he was involved in play intermittently but his woeful passing and poor understanding with his attacking team mates makes him the weak link in the side. He is undoubtedly skillful but hasn’t improved his footballing brain in the way Richards has since Mancini’s arrival.
David Silva – 9.5
Unplayable for the opposition and unbelievable at times to the fans. A truly remarkable player who not only delivers but delivers consistently. I think he could end up overtaking Iniesta and Xavi as the best Spanish midfielder.
Sergio Aguero – 9
‘Kun’ is Carlos Tevez MKII. He has added passing and intelligence to the brute force and never say die attitude that Tevez possesses. Didn’t blast one goal but placed all three. A stunning player who is going to get better and better. Not a bad return of goals for a player that has only been at the club a few weeks.
Carlos Tevez – 7
Missed a penalty and couldn’t find a Blue shirt when he attempted a pass. Maybe it’s just ring-rust but he doesn’t look a shade of the player he was at the start of last season. Hopefully it’s just a blip and Tevez will get back to his best.
Samir Nasri – 8.5
Looked amazing when he came on and hand a hand in a goal within two minute of his arrival. Combines wonderfully with Silva and must have the rest of the Premier League a little bit worried.
Mario Balotelli – 7
Came on Aguero….some big boots to fill. City were slowing down and he didn’t have much affect on the play.
City were cruising when he replaced Toure but he didn’t look out of place in a team of superstars. He made one thirty yard cross field pass which was superb. One of a crop of very exciting youngsters at the club.
Roberto Mancini – 8.5
Would have been a 9 but I worry when we take the foot off the gas as United certainly won’t. If it comes down to goal difference this attitude could cost us. Other than that another wonderful performance.
Roberto Martinez – 7
His team were outclassed by a superb City side but they fought to the end and he is to be commended for that.