October 2010 - Reports
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Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Manchester City 1   Bitten by the Wolves
Saturday 30th October 2010 : Guy Butters for GYKO at Molyneux

The sight of the notoriously moody Emmanuel Adebayor marching around Molineux before kick-off to give an individual hug to each of his team-mates – a special bonus on top of the group huddle – suggested that here was a united Manchester City team eager to demonstrate that they are not dependent on their absent top scorer, Carlos Tevez. They reinforced that impression with a strong start but when Wolves rebelled, City's lack of cohesion and composure was exposed. That may be ominous for their title aspirations but it contributed to a thrilling match.

Mick McCarthy's team are the only one in the Premier League yet to keep a clean sheet this season and the concession of a goal looked inevitable as Adebayor and Mario Balotelli, making his first start since his £24m summer move from Internazionale, initially looked fearsome. After only two minutes Adebayor charged all the way down the right wing and delivered a cross that flew fractionally beyond Balotelli. One minute later James Milner did likewise, and this time Balotelli was able to connect but sidefooted wide from close-range. A breakthrough seemed certain as Balotelli, Adebayor and David Silva tormented with both power and trickery. City even came close to scoring their first headed goal of the season, but Nenad Milijas cleared Vincent Kompany's effort off the line following a Silva corner in the 21st minute.

Two minutes later, just as Wolves appeared to be finding their feet, Silva's were taken from under him by Richard Stearman, whose clumsiness was punished with a penalty. Adebayor converted emphatically.

Wolves' impressive fightback was led by Matthew Jarvis, a cut-price signing from Gillingham three years ago who gave further credibility to those who chant for him to be given an England call-up by jinking and thrusting as menacingly as the £26m Silva. From one of his crosses in the 27th minute David Edwards produced a header that Joe Hart had to tip over. The pair combined again from the ensuing corner, Edwards this time nodding Jarvis's delivery against the post.

The equaliser came three minutes later. Micah Richards was only able to half-block a Jarvis cross and the ball broke to Milijas, who fired into the bottom corner from 16 yards.

City began to unravel. Adebayor and Kompany bawled at each other after one mix-up in midfield and Balotelli began to sulk and jostle in a way that suggested he was more likely to start a fight than score. Adebayor did send a header inches wide just before half-time but that was after an increasingly rare counter-attack.

Wolves deservedly took the lead in the 57th minute. Kevin Foley impersonated Jarvis down the right only for his cross to be headed to the edge of the box, where Kevin Doyle fired goalward. Kolo Touré blocked that shot but it rebounded to Edwards, who calmly slotted into the net from six yards.

As well as Tevez, City missed the solidity of Nigel de Jong in midfield, where Karl Henry gained control with tidy passing rather than tough tackling. All City could muster were sporadic long shots, none of which came as close as another Milijas effort in the 65th minute, which forced Hart to save.

Roberto Mancini sought to strengthen his attack by replacing the ineffective Gareth Barry with Adam Johnson. The substitute made his presence felt immediately but could not reawaken the side's strikers, Adebayor wafting way over after being presented with a simple opportunity in the 74th minute. The Togolese's form had slumped so much since the start of the game that moments later he was replaced by a defender, Pablo Zabaleta. Balotelli might have been hauled off too for all the good he did in the second half but was left on and eventually got the yellow card his petulance made inevitable.

More than any visiting player, Wolves' nervousness in the closing minutes threatened to deny their first victory since the opening day of the season.

McCarthy made three defensive substitutions and the hosts retreated ever deeper. City, however, were not good enough to take advantage. "We had four or five chances to score in the first 20 minutes and then we finished playing," fumed Mancini. "We must regroup and understand why this happened. To challenge for the title you must play every game at 150%, not 15%." McCarthy, understandably, was happier: "I've been saying for weeks that we've been playing well but it all sounds awfully bloody hollow when you're near the bottom of the league but this performance and result spoke eloquently of what we're all about."

Teams:

Wolverhampton Hahnemann, Foley, Stearman, Berra, Ward,Edwards, Henry, Milijas (Mancienne 83), Jarvis (Mouyokolo 88),Doyle, Hunt (Elokobi 65).

Subs Not Used: Hennessey, Van Damme, Ebanks-Blake, Fletcher.

Booked: Hunt.

Goals: Milijas 30, Edwards 57.

Man City Hart, Richards (Jo 84), Toure, Kompany, Boateng,Milner, Toure Yaya, Barry (Adam Johnson 68),Adebayor (Zabaleta 77), Balotelli, Silva.

Subs Not Used: Given, Wright-Phillips, Lescott, Vieira.

Booked: Zabaleta, Balotelli.

Goals: Adebayor 23 pen.

Att: 25,971

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

Manchester City 0 Arsenal 3   A real kick up the Arse
Sunday 24th October 2010 : GYKO at the COMSTAD

got some much needed practice in bullying. They are all too often seen as creatures of refinement for whom aesthetics matter more than the bid for silverware. At Eastlands, however, they were ruthless in exploiting a numerical advantage after the dismissal of Dedryck Boyata in the fifth minute. Manchester City could have anticipated the horror of pursuing such elusive opponents with a mere 10 men.

Roberto Mancini's men persevered, yet it was all but inevitable that their resistance would be broken. The victors now stand second in the table, above Manchester United and City. It remains only for Chelsea to get themselves into trouble for a match or two and the contest for the Premier League will be truly fierce. Arsène Wenger's squad showed efficiency in this fixture.

With the unanswerable wisdom of hindsight Roberto Mancini could be reproached for picking the 19-year-old Boyata at centre-half when there was no lack of alternatives. There is, all the same, a riposte to that. The Belgian may have had only one previous outing in the Premier League this season but it came when he helped the side to a clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Even so, there is no disputing that he made a mistake against Arsenal that spoke of a residual callowness. He had a lapse in concentration and allowed Marouane Chamakh to drift away from him to take a Cesc Fábregas pass. In his anxious bid to atone, Boyata, as the last man, brought down the striker. It was a routine decision for the referee, Mark Clattenburg, to send off the City centre-back.

Few teams appear better equippedthan Arsenal to take advantage of their extra man. Even when both sides have an equal complement of footballers, it often looks as if Wenger's line-up are outnumbering their adversaries. City must have been fighting to fend off the conclusion that defeat and exhaustion had an equal inevitability. The challenge for Arsenal was to prey on the vulnerable. That type of mission is not their forte, yet they exploited the situation proficiently this time.

It was important both to drain the energy from City and to score against them. After all, there is always a risk that a team will be galvanised by adversity, particularly when urged on by a home crowd. Mancini was feverish in his alterations that suggested he saw some prospect of thwarting if not beating Arsenal.

Even so the visitors did critically take the lead before City could convince themselves fully that they had realistic hopes. With 20 minutes gone Samir Nasri exchanged passes with Andrey Arshavin to put the visitors ahead. City had been pondering how to reshape the side after the red card.

Initially Yaya Touré took up a post in the centre of the back four but the need to have him in midfield was soon deemed even greater. Jérôme Boateng then stepped into the core of the defence while Gareth Barry assumed the left-back duties. Further alterations ensued as Mancini strove to think his way out of an impasse.

Touré, indeed, was eventually to be removed. No amount of technical area scheming could eradicate the truth that Arsenal were relishing the circumstances as they syphoned the vitality from City. After this result one of the main comforts for the losers will lie in the atmosphere and passion that did not dim at Eastlands.

For all the wealth of the owner, Sheikh Mansour, that contribution, which people pay to make, will be important to City's pursuit of honours. The crowd were probably inflamed by the conviction that some sort of injustice was being perpetrated here, although that was not the case. Their side had a fine bloody-mindedness about them, too.

It was expressed in the refusal to succumb even to a penalty after Vincent Kompany brought down Fábregas five minutes before half-time. The captain took the penalty himself but the effort rose slightly and was not accurate enough. Joe Hart confirmed that by leaping to his left to save. It would have encouraged the City manager that this contest had not, in effect, been ended at that moment.

City had faith and even periods of momentum, with the much maligned Lukasz Fabianski in Arsenal's goal doing well throughout, particularly when tipping an effort from David Silva round the post. The goalkeeper's save left Arsenal in a position of strength which they exploited with the second goal after 66 minutes. Fábregas's attempted pass to Chamakh from the right was deflected to Alex Song, who sent a handsome shot high past Hart.

The third goal was cruel since the ball appeared to have gone out of play before Nasri found the substitute Nicklas Bendtner and the Dane might have been a fraction offside before shooting home two minutes from the close. City will shrug this off as an ill-starred afternoon but Arsenal will draw strength from it.

Teams:

Man City Hart, Richards, Boyata, Kompany, Boateng, Silva, Toure Yaya (Bridge 46), De Jong, Barry (Balotelli 72), Milner, Tevez (Adebayor 52).

Subs Not Used: Given, Adam Johnson, Lescott, Vieira.

Sent Off: Boyata (5).

Booked: Barry, Kompany.

Arsenal Fabianski, Sagna, Djourou, Squillaci, Clichy, Nasri, Fabregas (Walcott 85), Song, Denilson, Arshavin (Rosicky 70), Chamakh (Bendtner 84).

Subs Not Used: Szczesny, Koscielny, Eboue, Gibbs.

Booked: Denilson, Fabregas, Song, Djourou.

Goals: Nasri 20, Song 66, Bendtner 88.

Att: 47,393

Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).

Manchester City 3 Lech Poznan 1  Poles Apart
Thursday 21st October 2010 : GYKO at the COMSTAD

Emmanuel Adebayor became the first Manchester City player to score a European hat-trick on a night when David Silva's elusive movement and adhesive touch proved far too good for a spirited Lech Poznan. The Togolese striker's first three goals of a hitherto personally mixed season propelled his team to the top of Europa League qualifying Group A while reminding the home crowd of the talents that have been largely held back during the opening part of the season and the second half of the previous campaign. This amounted to his best performance of 2010 by some distance in terms of troubling opposition defenders and it was achieved with an accomplished sense of timing amid all the noise about Roberto Mancini wanting to spend a potential fortune on Wayne Rooney and with Adebayor's former club, Arsenal, next to visit Eastlands on Sunday.

"His performance was excellent," Mancini said. "It was very important for him, and very important for us, that he played like that. A striker needs to score goals and we need Manu to be playing well." Silva was equally impressive, also identified for special acclaim from his manager. "David makes it look easy to play football," Mancini said. "Everything for him is easy. He's a fantastic footballer."

This, however, will be remembered as the night Adebayor rediscovered his form inside the penalty area, from the moment after 13 minutes when he applied a neat drag-back to Patrick Vieira's pass and opened the scoring with a composed finish. Silva, the £25m signing from Valencia, had been involved in the build-up for that goal and it was his cross, coupled with some wretched marking, that gave Adebayor the space to score his second from a free header.

At that point it looked as if Poznan's loud and boisterous supporters might have feared a repeat of their team's sole previous visit to England, when they were thrashed 4-0 at Liverpool in the European Cup 26 years ago. However, the visitors, creditably, were not about to fold. There were some sporadically promising counterattacks while Mancini's defenders needed to maintain their concentration from the odd well-worked Polish set piece. They did not start the evening as group leaders for nothing and the second period had barely begun before a goal was pulled back.

For a team that places so much emphasis on parsimonious defending, it was a terrible goal to concede from City's perspective. The entire defence seemed to pause when Slawomir Peszko capitalised on a mistake from Adam Johnson only to be brought down in the box in a challenge from Joleon Lescott. It was as if everyone in a blue shirt expected a penalty to be awarded when, in reality, play had been waved on. Pablo Zabaleta was particularly culpable, dithering on the ball and, when it eventually fell to Joel Tshibamba, the unmarked striker lashed it into Joe Hart's net. Ignoring the Mancunian chill, the away fans celebrated by whipping their shirts off.

Suddenly looking his age, Vieira seemed a fading force at this point and Poznan sought to capitalise by finally liberating their key forward and principal midfielder, Artjoms Rudnevs – the scorer of a recent hat-trick against Juventus – and Semir Stilic from their surprising start positions on the bench.

Mancini looked increasingly stern as Tshibamba missed a sitter before Silva and Johnson – who later struck the bar with an exquisite effort – set up Adebayor only for the striker to be denied a hat-trick by a heavy first touch and wild finish.

It was out of keeping with his evening but he made amends in the 73rd minute when Silva, later given a standing ovation when he was substituted, picked him out with a glorious, subtly curving ball from the left to half-volley his hat-trick.

A banner unfurled by City fans before kick-off proclaimed "2011: The Wait Is Over". Whether its intention was to forecast Mancini's side will lift the Europa League trophy, win the Premier League title or sign Rooney was unclear but optimism at Eastlands is currently running as high as they dare to remember.

Man City Hart, Lescott, Richards, Boyata, Zabaleta (Bridge 85), De Jong, Vieira, Wright-Phillips (Jo 77), Silva (Toure Yaya 75), Adam Johnson, Adebayor.

Subs Not Used: Given, Kompany, Milner, Tevez.

Goals: Adebayor 13, 25, 73.

Lech Poznan Buric, Kikut, Bosacki, Arboleda (Djurdjevic 69), Henriquez, Peszko, Injac , Drygas (Rudnevs 55), Wilk (Stilic 55), Krivets, Tshibamba.

Subs Not Used: Kotorowski, Gancarczyk, Zapotoka, Wichniarek.

Booked: Bosacki.

Goals: Tshibamba 50.

Att: 33,383

Ref: Alexandru Dan Tudor (Romania).

Blackpool 2 Manchester City 3     Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside
Sunday 18th October 2010 : Rick Walker for GYKO at Bloomfield Road

In financial terms this was football's equivalent of David versus Goliath, although we should probably know enough about Blackpool by now not to be surprised that their artillery was far more advanced than a sling and stone. Carlos Tevez, aided and abetted by David Silva, finally demonstrated the imbalance of talent that exists between the richest club in the Premier League and the poorest but it was an epic struggle for Manchester City against opponents who could be forgiven for thinking themselves a touch unfortunate.

As has been the case all season, Blackpool played without the hint of an inferiority complex, except on this occasion they came up against a striker at the point of his maximum expression. Tevez's two goals were another reminder of his worth to Roberto Mancini, the manager who has made him captain but with whom he has an occasionally volatile relationship, the two men embroiled in a finger-jabbing exchange at half-time of their previous match against Newcastle United. Silva's individual effort was the most exhilarating moment of a match in which all five goals arrived in the last 25 minutes but Tevez's contribution was the most telling as City moved back to second in the league, two points behind Chelsea.

The Argentinean has a magnetic attraction to controversy sometimes but, above all, he retains an unerring knack for delivering goals accompanied with a sense of drama. His second, after 79 minutes, came within 60 seconds of the Blackpool substitute Marlon Harewood flicking a header beyond Joe Hart to make it 1-1.

Ian Holloway's side had deserved to be level and could have been forgiven at that point for thinking they could go on to win the match but Tevez nibbled away at the centre-half Ian Evatt and coaxed a stumble. The striker was on the ball in a flash, driving a left-foot shot past Matthew Gilks for his seventh goal of the season and one that came so quickly after Harewood's equaliser it was utterly demoralising for their opponents.

Mancini reflected afterwards that he had been disappointed with the first-half performance and, even though there was a notable improvement after the break, it still felt like an unorthodox victory given there were long periods when City resembled a work in progress, struggling to find any fluency or cohesion.

Perhaps it might be fairer, though, to credit that to Blackpool's own performance. Charlie Adam, once again, was outstanding but he is far from alone in that tangerine shirt when it comes to wanting the ball and generally doing the right thing with it. David Vaughan was equally impressive, gifted in possession and understanding the importance of moving the ball quickly. Luke Varney created problems for Jérôme Boateng whereas Vincent Kompany, probably City's most impressive defender this season, found DJ Campbell a difficult and elusive opponent.

Holloway will reflect on that moment, nine minutes into the second half, when Campbell stabbed the first clear chance of the match a couple of yards wide and, a minute later, when Gary Taylor-Fletcher turned in Adam's pass only for the goal to be disallowed because his team-mate Elliot Grandin was ruled offside, despite not touching the ball.

"We're getting bo-diddly-squat every week [from the officials]," Holloway complained, his mood not helped by the fact that, when Tevez turned in Silva's cross for the opening goal, it was not only in the midst of Blackpool's most dangerous spell of the match but also from a marginally offside position.

Holloway had some valid complaints but, ultimately Tevez's finishing was a reminder for Blackpool that opponents in this league will be far more ruthless than in the Championship. The paradox, however, was that Tevez had a disappointing first half, often coming far too deep to get the ball, whereas Mancini strangely felt the need to praise Emmanuel Adebayor for his work rate. It felt charitable in the extreme and it was no surprise at all when Mancini replaced Adebayor for Silva, a substitution that was vindicated when the Spaniard created Tevez's first goal barely a minute later.

For the rest of the match there were some flashes of brilliance from Silva, culminating in the first minute of stoppage time when, in the most magical demonstration of his talent since signing from Valencia for £25m pounds in the summer, he beat two defenders before curling a measured shot past Gilks to make it 3-1.

There was still time for another twist, Taylor-Fletcher prodding in Blackpool's second, after Varney had driven Adam's corner through a congested penalty area, but the final few seconds held no more scares for Chelsea's nearest challengers. "We're going to win the league," the City supporters were singing.

Mancini now believes City can bridge the gap between themselves and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League. The manager said: "We are continuing to change our mentality and it was an important result for us today. We worked hard in the first half and scored three goals in the second half which is not easy. Blackpool played very well. Strong teams win some games they probably do not deserve. It is impossible to always play well. But we did score three goals away from home."

Gareth Barry heaped praise on Tevez: "He's carried on from last season. He's a world-class striker. Last season he got 29 goals and I'm sure he can do that again. If he does we'll be right up there come the end of the season."

Teams

Blackpool Gilks, Eardley (Phillips 76), Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey, Grandin (Harewood 66), Vaughan, Adam, Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Varney.

Subs Not Used: Kingson, Southern, Sylvestre, Carney, Keinan.

Goals: Harewood 78, Taylor-Fletcher 90.

Man City Hart, Boateng (Richards 76), Kompany, Lescott, Bridge, Adam Johnson (Vieira 85), De Jong, Barry, Milner, Tevez, Adebayor (Silva 65).

Subs Not Used: Given, Zabaleta, Wright-Phillips, Santa Cruz.

Booked: Tevez, Silva.

Goals: Tevez 67, 79, Silva 90.

Att: 16,116

Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).

Manchester City 2 Newcastle United 1   
Sunday 3rd October 2010 : Simon Stonehouse for GYKO at the COMSTAD



Adam Johnson was an instant hit for Manchester City at Eastlands. Three minutes after being introduced into a fractious encounter that was overshadowed at the start when Hatem Ben Arfa suffered a suspected broken leg, Johnson provided a moment of magic to turn the contest his side's way. Collecting James Milner's square pass, Johnson wriggled between Jose Enrique and Joey Barton before rifling a precise shot past Tim Krul.

It was harsh luck on the Magpies, who responded superbly to the loss of Ben Arfa and debatable penalty from Carlos Tevez and seemed good value for a point once Jonas Gutierrez had levelled.

But Johnson had other ideas as he kept City's multi-million pound bandwagon rolling, even if manager Roberto Mancini continues to insist the Premier League title is out of reach.

The combustible presence of Joey Barton at City for the first time since his acrimonious departure three years ago meant the touchpaper for this encounter would not require much burning. Barton's crime sheet from his time with the Blues includes sticking a cigar into a young team-mate's eye during a Christmas party and a training ground challenge on Ousmane Dabo which led to some fairly gruesome pictures of the Frenchman coming to light.

Yet the foul which brought this contest to boiling point had nothing to do with the combative midfielder. De Jong is a successor in more ways than one. Infinitely more talented that Barton but equally fiery in his approach. That referee Martin Atkinson did not view De Jong's challenge on Ben Arfa to even warrant a foul was a surprise. In winning the ball, De Jong was taking his opponent as well. Ben Arfa's left leg buckled and, as has happened too often already this season, oxygen was called for as the first stage to treating a break that will rule the young Frenchman out for an extended period.

That Newcastle should then fall behind to a debatable penalty only fuelled their sense of grievance. Mike Williamson was adamant he took the ball as he slid in on Tevez. He was coming from the back as well though and once Atkinson deemed it a penalty, the shock then was that when the red card seemed automatic, he produced a yellow instead. Tevez exacted further punishment though, drilling the spot-kick into the middle of the Newcastle net.

The way things had gone, it seemed the visitors would collapse. Instead, their response was admirable, made even more so as Chris Hughton had to call for the 36-year-old legs of Sol Campbell after Fabricio Coloccini had suffered a groin injury. By then the Magpies were level thanks to Gutierrez's moment of inspiration.

Vincent Kompany must have thought he had done well when he made an acrobatic half-cleared on Gutierrez's cross. Instead, he was merely teeing up the Argentina star, who failed to score during that disastrous first Premier League season at St James' Park, but did so brilliantly here, controlling the loose ball before rasping a shot beyond Joe Hart.  Although Newcastle could never claim to be dominating, it said much for their efforts that Roberto Mancini turned to Emmanuel Adebayor for some inspiration just 10 minutes after the restart.

Yaya Toure had set Tevez up for an angled effort which brought an excellent save from Krul but it was part of a minimal contribution from the Ivorian, who was the man sacrificed for Adebayor's greater attacking power. The striker's impact was disappointing though, certainly compared to that of Johnson, who was celebrating within three minutes of his introduction for Gareth Barry. Mancini has delivered a number of warnings to the winger recently, which he insists are merely reminders of what it takes to reach the top but, as they have come with the addition slap of being left out, hint at something more concrete.

Newcastle were convinced they should have been presented with the opportunity to level from the spot when Joleon Lescott took down Shola Ameobi with a rather rash challenge. Atkinson thought otherwise and when Mike Williamson headed Barton's corner over from close range, the Magpies' last chance of stealing a point disappeared with it.

Teams:

Man City Hart, Boateng, Toure, Kompany, Lescott, De Jong, Barry (Adam Johnson 72), Silva, Toure Yaya (Adebayor 56),Milner, Tevez (Vieira 86).

Subs Not Used: Given, Santa Cruz, Jo, Boyata.

Booked: Toure, Boateng, Tevez.

Goals: Tevez 18 pen, Adam Johnson 75.

Newcastle Krul, Perch, Williamson, Coloccini (Campbell 36), Jose Enrique, Ben Arfa (Routledge 7), Nolan (Carroll 76),Tiote, Barton, Gutierrez, Ameobi.

Subs Not Used: Soderberg, Lovenkrands, Ryan Taylor, Smith.

Booked: Williamson, Coloccini.

Goals: Gutierrez 24.

Att: 46,067

Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire

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