A local derby today as the Premier League’s two high flyers kicked off the Sunday afternoon’s jousting. Both teams put four past their newly promoted opposition in their last outing which saw them occupy joint top spot at the end of the first week of the season and if City want to make a serious challenge for the title, these are the games they MUST win.
City have only won once in their last six visits to the Reebok stadium and that win came on the final day of last season and they failed to score in four of the six games in which they lost. The Reebok does not hold fond memories for City’s new superstar Kun Aguero as he was sent off ten minutes after coming on as sub when his last club Atletico Madrid played Bolton in the Europa League.
For this must win game Mancini true to his word taking more risks than in any other away game last season playing three attacking players in Dzeko, Silva and yes, he plays, Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero. Milner came in for the injured De Jong in midfield and Kolarov came in for Clichy most likely to add some extra height in defence.
City kicked off right to left with Silva and Aguero on the ball. A crunching tackle followed from Davies on Kolarov and this was followed by City’s first corner of the game on the right taken by Milner. Lescott was adjudged to have fouled his marker and a free kick given to Bolton.
Two minutes in and the clever Davies had earnt Bolton a free kick right on the edge of City’s box. Hart was forced into a great save from Eagle’s curling free kick. The ball spilled but Lescott was on hand to clear for a quick City break.
Davies and Kompany were locking horns from the off and he earnt a second free kick on five minutes in the centre circle seconds after the ref waved play on when Milner had clearly been fouled.
Aguero and Dzeko were linking up nicely on the right finding space and getting in between the Bolton defenders. Each time City probed, there was a sense of anticipation. Each time Bolton launched a long ball, Davies either fouled or earnt a foul.
Ten minutes in and Bolton earnt a corner after a lovely overlapping run and cross from their right back. City left three players up and Knight could well have scored after a poor defensive header. Their second corner followed seconds later after Petrov beat Richards and whipped in a menacing cross. Kompany cleared for a third corner which was eventually gathered by Hart.
One thing was for sure, this game was being played with pace, strength and attacking flair by both teams and with only twelve minutes gone we were seeing some very good football.
The first real chance for City came on fourteen minutes when Aguero and Silva combined well. Had Silva played his ball fractionally earlier the ball would probably been in the net. City were finding Blue shirts with crisp neat passing along the floor. The ball was being zipped about and on fifteen minutes City’s second shot on target came from Silva on the edge of the Bolton box.
On seventeen minutes Milner found Dzeko on the right side of the Bolton box. Dzeko beat his man and whipped the ball accross to an unmarked Aguero. A rush of blood perhaps, but Aguero shot over the bar when surely it would have been easier to score.
Bolton`s forth corner followed and Hart quick catch and clearance showed why leaving three men up can work. Bolton were instantly under pressure and their left back forced to concede a throw in near their own penalty box….all from their corner.
Twenty five minutes in and first blood to City. A quick throw in from Richards soon found Silva on the edge of the Bolton box. Two steps and Silva struck the ball cleanly and watched it fly past the Bolton keeper and bulge the back of the net. One nil and City were purring.
City had the ball in the back of the net on thirty minutes after great movement from Aguero but Richards was adjudged to have fouled petrov and the result was a Bolton free kick. Five minutes after this and Dzeko put in a lovely cross from the left. Aguero met it with his head five yards out but put the ball wide.
City were playing free flowing football now and Bolton were dropping deeper and deeper. Thirty seven minutes in and City won another corner. This time Milner took the ball low and had to Barry stood centrally and fully twenty five yards out. Barry hit the ball with the outside of his left boot and watched a pile driver fly past the Bolton keeper and once more bulge the net. Two nil.
Seconds later and the score was two one. A cross from Petrov and a one touch volley from Klasnic and Hart had no chance. The goal was without doubt against the run of play but could it give Bolton the lift they needed having been second best for so much of the second half?
As the whistle blew for half time, Bolton could count themselves lucky. If Aguero had been as clinical as he had it his debut it would surely have been four nil. As it was, a goal against the run of play and only two goals in it and Bolton we still in the game. There was a nasty undertone bubbling away as a number of cynical and unneeded fouls were put in by Bolton first on Kompany, then Silva and then Aguero. City were keeping their nerve though and had not yet bitten back (other than with goals).
No changes as the second half kicked off and within minutes off kick off, the exceptional Dzeko outmuscled the centre half and won a high ball. He charged into the box and unleashed an unstoppable volley which went accross the Bolton keeper and into the net. Three one and Dzeko had now scored in all of his last four outings for City.
Two minutes later and Aguero danced through the Bolton defence and crossed to find Milner running in from the City left. Milner’s shot was hard and on target anond brought a fine save from the Bolton keeper.
City were splitting Bolton apart with their passing and movement and were looking a completely different proposition to the defensive side that went away not to lose last season. All the players were playing their part but up to this point the stand outs had to be Dzeko, Silva and Milner. Don’t get me wrong, Bolton still looked they had goals in them, but from set plays and long balls rather than measured passing and fantastic movement.
Fifty six minutes in and once more the nasty side of Bolton raised its ugly head as Reo-Coker scythed down Dzeko in the middle of the pitch. Un-needed and unnecessary and apparently becoming typical Bolton.
With Bolton flagging, Mark Davies was brought on by Coyle for Muamba to add some needed creativity. This was followed by a flowing City move which ended in another City corner. Kolarov found the ball on the edge a struck sweetly only to see a deflection send the ball out for another corner.
Sixty one minutes in and Davies had won a free kick once again fooling the ref by backing into his marker. To his credit when the ball was sent into the box Davies met it with his head and sent the ball looping over Hart and into the City net. Once again against the run but the score line didn`t lie, three two and Bolton were still in a game in which they had been totally dominated.
Sixty seven minutes in and one Argentinian wizard was swapped for another and not a popular decision by substituted player or fans as boos rang out for want away striker Carlos Tevez. Things did need changing and Tevez almost set up Silva for a goal with his first touch. Aguero looked unhappy as he came off but that is to be expected of top class players on top of their game. There was however no petulance and he went straight to the bench to join his team mates.
With twenty minutes to go Bolton were coming into the game more and were generating more chances but each time, City came away with the ball and were quickly on the attack. There were a number of feisty challenges going in and City were as now giving as good as they got but were missing the steel that De Jong added in the last twenty minutes as legs began to tire.
hirteen minutes to go and a tired Eagles was replaced by ex Swansea man Pratley. This was followed by a dirty cynical and unacceptable foul by Robinson as Silva broke up pitch. It was fully deserving of a red card as was his reaction afterwards. The ref gave….a throw in to Bolton. It is always difficult to referee Bolton games but this was the biggest mistake of the game.
Johnson, during the following melee, replaced Dzeko to offer some protection for Richards who was increasingly finding himself under pressure from Petrov. City were slowing the pace down and trying to keep possession. They were in no need of rushing and simply needed to hold out for another ten minutes to go top of the table and take their first away victory.
On eighty seven minutes Zabaleta was introduced for man of the match (again!!!!!!!) David Silva as Mancini shored up the midfield and attempted to shut out Bolton’for the remaining few minutes. The score line in all honesty was flattering to a Bolton side who had huffed and puffed and were clearly a class below City. But to their credit Bolton did what they are good at. Long ball, wing play and kicking and to that end got two goals against a visibly and statistically far superior team. City played with finesse, maturity and skill. Building up play with neat quick passing, intelligent movement and looking all the part a Title challenger.
Joe Hart – 7.5
Did little wrong other than pick the ball out of his net twice. Was not at fault for either goal and his kicking has definitely improved.
Micah Richards – 7.5
Put in some great tackles and also some good crosses. How he is not England’s first choice right back is beyond me.
Vincent Kompany – 7.5
Lost his man for the Klasnic goal as he had one eye on Davis but other than that did little wrong. Kept Davies to one goal and lots of fouls!
Joleon Lescott – 8
Another solid game where he did little wrong. Had luck on his side though with on sliced clearance.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 7
Caught out of position a couple of times but looked better than usual as had the pace of Milner to help him out.
Yaya Toure – 7.5
Asked to sit deeper and play more of the De Jong role. Visibly tired towards the end and looks better when running forward.
Gareth Barry – 8
Played well. Broke up play, passed well and scored a screamer of a goal. Well done Gareth.
James Milner – 8.5
Played superbly up and down the pitch and had a hand in most things good that City produced. One of his best games in a Blue shirt in my opinion.
David Silva – 9
Wonderful wonderful player and the currently the best link up attacking midfielder in the English game. City are VERY lucky to have him.
Edin Dzeko – 8.75
Scored for the forth game in a row and looks the part of the big target man now. Holds the ball well, wins headers and has dribbling skills that a big man shouldn’t possess. Just shaded out for MOM by Silva
Sergio Aguero – 8
Played well and showed fantastic movement. If not for poor finishing. Should have scored at least two goals but still looks the part.
Carlos Tevez – 7
Dropped deeper than he would have like and doesn’t look as mobile as Aguero. Wonder what he is thinking being third choice striker?
Adam Johnson – 7.5
Came on and looked good. Feel sorry for him after last week but it is a team game and City have a GREAT squad.
Too late to mark but I love him he is a great player and a wonderful person.
Roberto Mancini – 8.5
ent out to win the game with attacking free flowing football. I hope he doesn’t think conceding two was because of his tactics and go back to looking for one nils. This was a great game of football to watch.
Owen Coyle – 7
ot two goals against a technically superior team and gets the best out of his team week in week out.