October 2004 Match Reports

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City draw in a game of wasted chances

Southampton 0 - 0 Man City

Ian Ridley for Get Your Kits Out at St Mary's
Saturday October 2, 2004


Just a fortnight ago, the circus was camped around Kevin Keegan and Manchester City. He was, in the way these speculative media sagas take on a life of their own, only one game away from the sack. Now the Big Top has been erected here for Steve Wigley, the beleaguered Southampton head coach. And with good reason, on this evidence.

How Southampton escaped with a point - merely their second in six matches under Wigley since Paul Sturrock's departure - only the fates will understand. Wigley and Saints may not be as newsworthy as Keegan and City, but their plight is more serious, the more so since James Beattie suffered a suspected broken toe that could keep him out for a month.

It is not just results, it is to do also with performance. Defenders were off the pace, midfielders passed the ball inaccurately and tracked back fitfully, strikers finished with an absence of confidence. A late flurry masked 80 minutes of mediocrity.

In the circumstances, home fans were remarkably patient, boos accompanying only the final whistle. It may be opportune for the Southampton board that Wigley, short of the necessary qualifications, canot technically continue as head coach beyond mid-December. Action is surely needed before that. Empty seats are showing.

'I think the situation will be resolved,' said Wigley. 'I am taking the course and there have been people given dispensation over the last two years.' He also expects to bring in another coach. 'It will be my choice,' he said. Maybe, maybe not. Dennis Roach, Glenn Hoddle's agent, was in the stands.

City, their confidence returning after a win over Crystal Palace and a narrow defeat by Arsenal, squandered chance after chance. Surely one moment from Nicolas Anelka would decide it. While others were running and puffing, he was gliding, always looking the most likely source of a goal.

From his early corner, Richard Dunne headed goalwards, David Prutton clearing off the line. Then Anelka touched Shaun Wright-Phillips's low cross just wide. Ben Thatcher's free-kick was too high and Dunne saw a shot cleared off the line by Anders Svensson.

Joey Barton, industrious at the heart of City's midfield against a languid, sloppy Southampton pairing of Prutton and Rory Delap, followed by sending in Sun Jihai on goal, but the Chinese rolled his shot wide.

Southampton's cause was hardly helped by Beattie's injury. On came Peter Crouch, the 6ft 5in striker. Put a black hat on him and he may well keep the crows away. He hardly scared the City defence, however.

Alongside, Kevin Phillips buzzed but betrayed that lack of confidence in front of goal. His shot after 25 minutes was Southampton's first and his header straight at David James was their only other effort of the first half.

City, who should have had a penalty when Claus Lundekvam looked to have blocked Wright-Phillips's shot with a hand, continued in the same vein after the interval. The again-lively Wright-Phillips shot across the face of goal, Sun Jihai forced a save from Antti Niemi, who clutched Anelka's chip, too. Jonathan Macken also saw a weak shot held by the goalkeeper.

As City tired, having applied so much pressure, Saints almost grabbed a winner on the break. Phillips was wide with a low shot, Delap crossed for Crouch to head straight at James and the substitute Neil McCann shot wide when clean through. Phillips also chipped straight at James.

If Southampton were to focus on the late spell, however, they would be deluding themselves. City, on the other hand, seem to have shown that they rightly want to retain Keegan as their manager. Whether Southampton's players show the same for Wigley is another matter. It might be that a new ringmaster is needed.

Man City 1-0 Chelsea      
Saturday 16th October 2004 :
 
Nicolas Anelka is brought down by Chelsea's Paulo Ferreira to earn Man City the penalty from which he scored the winner
Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the season as a Nicolas Anelka penalty inspired Manchester City to an impressive victory.

Anelka stroked home a penalty after being brought down by Paulo Ferreira, who was fortunate not to be sent off.

City keeper David James got a vital touch to divert a Frank Lampard shot onto the post before again denying the same player with another fine save.

Eidur Gudjohnsen slashed a shot wildly wide but City resolutely held on.

 

The rain at Eastlands played a major part in the early stages as it created a greasy pitch for the players and helped City take a surprise lead.

Midfielder Paul Bosvelt pounced on a loose ball after William Gallas slipped in possession after 10 minutes.

And Bosvelt launched a long ball to Anelka and he managed to steal in front of last defender Ferreira, who clumsily brought the striker down in the area.

Referee Howard Webb had little hesitation in awarding a spot-kick and seemed to take the slippery surface into account when he allowed Ferreira to escape with a yellow card.

However, Ferreira could argue that the offence started just outside the area.

Anelka confidently stroked in the penalty as Chelsea conceded their first Premiership goal away from home this season and only their second of the campaign.

Man City's Paul Bosvelt (left) and Tiago battle it out at Eastlands
Bosvelt (left) and Tiago tussle for possession at COMS

 

 

 

City manager Kevin Keegan had predicted that his side would rise to the occasion of playing Chelsea before the game and he was emphatically proved right.

The home side were tough in the tackle as they protected their lead while still maintaining a threat on the visitors' goal.

City right-back Danny Mills epitomised the effort of Keegan's players when he raced to slide in and block a Tiago shot.

Chelsea have won four of their eight matches 1-0 this term and had been criticised for their negative approach.

And, although they had no option but to attack, they were struggling to make use of dominating possession with Gudjohnsen, Frank Lampard and Gallas mustering disappointing efforts on goal.

Antoine Sibierski was ghosting into space at the other end but twice volleyed high.

Steve McManaman came on for City because of an injury to Sun Jihai before Chelsea almost levelled on the stroke of half time.

City keeper James did well to block a deflected Ricardo Carvalho free-kick and breathed a sigh of relief when it struck Blues striker Mateja Kezman and went wide.

And James pulled off two more fine saves when he deflected a Lampard shot against the post while palming another wide shortly after the interval.

Chelsea found it difficult to break through the home side's stubborn defence and almost went behind when Jonathan Macken's shot went into the side-netting.

Chelsea's best chance came late on but an unmarked Gudjohnsen slashed horribly wide with an angled shot.

A hard-working City expectedly tired in the closing stages but raised themselves to earn the three points.

 


Man City: James, Mills, Distin, Dunne, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, Sibierski, Jihai (McManaman 43), Macken, Anelka. Subs Not Used: Fowler, Waterreus, Flood, Onuoha.

Booked: Mills.

Goals: Anelka 11 pen.

Chelsea: Cech, Paulo Ferreira, Terry, Carvalho (Geremi 78), Gallas (Bridge 45), Tiago (Cole 64), Lampard, Makelele, Duff, Kezman, Gudjohnsen. Subs Not Used: Parker, Cudicini.

Booked: Paulo Ferreira, Lampard.

Att: 45,047

Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

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Man City 1-2 Arsenal    Back to the old City we all know
Wednesday 27th October 2004 : Dave Quinn for Get Your Kits Out at COMS

 
Robin van Persie
Van Persie scored on his debut
Goals from Robin van Persie and Daniel Karbassiyoon gave Arsenal a place in the Carling Cup fourth round.

Van Persie finished off a typically slick Arsenal passing move with a low left-footed shot after good work by midfielder Mathieu Flamini.

Arsenal's second goal was even better, Karbassiyoon picking up Cesc Fabregas's astute pass and then firing in a shot past Ronald Waterreus.

Robbie Fowler's free-kick reduced the deficit, but the response was too late.

Wenger had made 11 changes to the side that lost to Manchester United so controversially on Sunday, once again opting to field an experimental side for Arsenal's Carling Cup campaign.

But with City fielding an almost full-strength side Wenger's youngsters initially struggled and in the first-half it was not until stoppage time that they contrived to produce a shot of genuine menace, as Waterreus saved Fabregas' drilled effort.

After the interval Arsenal were more ambitious as an attacking force with Arturo Lupoli, Jermaine Pennant, and Van Persie all trying their luck with long-range shots.

Quincy Owusu-Abeyie also broke clear down the Arsenal left and crossed for Van Persie, who skied a reasonable chance over the bar.

But the Dutch youngster, who was making his debut, quickly learnt from his mistake and on 78 minutes he finished a sweeping move after Flamini slipped the ball to him.

In stoppage time substitute Karbassiyoon doubled Arsenal's advantage collecting Fabregas's wonderful pass before scoring with another fine left-footed finish.

Initially City had concentrated their attacks down their right wing giving another of the Arsenal debutants Sebastian Larsson a torrid opening few minutes.

First Larsson upended Willo Flood and then the young Irishman released Wright-Phillips, who scampered away down the City right flank.

The England international crossed to the near post but Robbie Fowler was just unable to reach the ball.

Just before the hour in an almost identical move Fowler nearly got to another Wright-Phillips cross but Justin Hoyte was alert to the danger and cleared the ball for a corner.

Wright-Phillips continued to provide City with plenty of attacking impetus, dribbling his way into the Arsenal box and soon after unleashing a shot Manuel Almunia gratefully clutched to his chest.

Arsenal also had problems tracking Antoine Sibierski's clever runs from midfield and the former Lens midfielder's headed pass almost released Fowler.

Just before the interval Siberski drew a fine save from Almunia with a powerful diving header.

City eventually did manage to find the net, Fowler scoring from a free-kick, even though he slipped as hit the ball.
Man City: Waterreus, Thatcher, Distin, Mills, Onuoha, Flood, D'Laryea (Bradley Wright-Phillips 79), Sibierski, Sinclair (Negouai 69), Shaun Wright-Phillips, Fowler, Negouai (Jordan 83). Subs Not Used: Stuhr-Ellegaard, McCarthy.

Goals: Fowler 90.

Arsenal: Almunia, Hoyte, Cygan, Senderos, Larsson, Pennant (Djourou 89), Fabregas, Flamini, Smith (Owusu-Abeyie 61), Van Persie, Lupoli (Karbassiyoon 82). Subs Not Used: Taylor, Cregg.

Goals: Van Persie 78, Karbassiyoon 90.

Att: 21,708

Ref: P Walton (Northamptonshire).

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Newcastle 4-3 Man City  
Sunday 31st October 2004 : Nick Williamson for Get Your Kits Out at St James Park

 
Newcastle celebrate Laurent Robert's goal
Craig Bellamy's superb flicked volley won a pulsating game for Newcastle.

The home side took a early second-half lead through Laurent Robert's free-kick after a Paul Bosvelt foul and Alan Shearer's penalty made it 2-0.

Shaun Wright-Phillips' fine individual goal - a drilled shot - put City back in the game and Robbie Fowler tied the match at 2-2, scoring from the spot.

Robbie Elliott's header made it 3-2 before Wright-Phillips shot home again, only for Bellamy to have the final say.

Before Sunday's game, City had not conceded a goal in their previous two League games but the way they conceded four goals suggested manager Kevin Keegan is some way from resolving the club's defensive problems.

If the first half was distinctly uninspiring, the second period was anything but.

Early in the second-half, Shearer finally escaped the shackles of the City defence when he got above Danny Mills only to direct his header over the bar.

Soon after Shearer's miss Newcastle took the lead through a free-kick after Bosvelt had fouled Nicky Butt.

Robert slipped as he hit the ball but his delivery was good enough to zip over the City wall to leave James stranded.

Just before the hour mark, James was picking the ball out of the net again after he was exposed by Steve McManaman's defensive lapse.

McManaman carelessly gave the ball away, allowing Carr to break away into the box.

Carr skipped to the right of James, whose flailing hand sent the Newcastle right-back tumbling.

As James dived to his right from the resulting penalty, Shearer thumped the ball the other way into the roof of the net.

City's first recovery was sparked on 64 minutes by Wright-Phillips' well-taken goal after he was picked out by Mills.

Wright-Phillips skipped away from Elliott and drilled the ball past Shay Given.

Three minutes later Fowler was tripped by Butt in the penalty area and the City striker himself calmly sent the Newcastle goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot.

Having worked so hard to get back into the game, City again found themselves behind on 69 minutes.

Elliott flicked on Robert's free-kick and, after his header hit the post, Dunne was unable to clear the danger and the ball trickled over the line.

Wright-Phillips' unerring eye for a goal rescued City for a second time when Newcastle failed to clear and the England international drilled the ball home.

But Newcastle refused to settle for a draw and after good work by Olivier Bernard on the left, Bellamy cleverly juggled the ball before flicking a volley past James in the 89th minute.

 


Newcastle: Given, Carr (Hughes 59), Elliott, O'Brien, Bernard, Jenas, Butt, Bowyer, Robert (Milner 71), Shearer, Bellamy (Ameobi 90).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Ambrose.

Booked: Bernard, Butt.

Goals: Robert 49, Shearer 58 pen, Elliott 69, Bellamy 89.

Man City: James, Mills, Distin, Dunne, Thatcher, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bosvelt, McManaman, Sibierski, Macken (Flood 58), Anelka (Fowler 45).
Subs Not Used: Waterreus, Negouai, Jordan.

Booked: Bosvelt, McManaman, Mills.

Goals: Shaun Wright-Phillips 64, Fowler 67 pen, Shaun Wright-Phillips 77.

Att: 52,316.

Ref: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

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