April 2007
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Manchester City 0 Charlton Ath 0     A Point Gained?
Friday 6th April 2007 : Get Your Kits Out at the COMSTAD

Charlton clambered out of the Barclays Premiership relegation zone for the first time since September after grinding out a draw at Manchester City.

Down and virtually out when Alan Pardew became the Addicks' third manager of the season 13 games ago, Charlton have transformed themselves into a dogged, fighting force. And the seven-point chasm to safety Pardew had to bridge has now been closed completely by a five-match unbeaten run, with the Londoners now above Sheffield United on goals scored.

The advantage may be slender but if the battling qualities on display at Eastlands are any guide, Charlton will collect enough points from their final six games to secure top flight status by the middle of May.

Certainly they were hardly ever an attacking threat to City. But Stuart Pearce's men were not so much better despite their dominance of possession.

Successive wins at Middlesbrough and Newcastle may have virtually ended any fears City had of falling into the Coca-Cola Championship themselves - but this was the 10th time in the Premiership this season Pearce's men had failed to score on home soil.

It is five games since Georgios Samaras scored their last home goal - against Everton on New Year's Day - and with five goalless draws among the home Premiership results as well, it is little wonder the entertainment value is being questioned.

Nedum Onuoha wasted the Blues' best chance to pick up maximum points, nodding wide from seven yards when completely unmarked just after the hour mark.

Once that opportunity had been missed, the deadlock never really looked like being broken and in the end, Charlton were happy to let the clock tick down to move that precious place higher in the table.

Although 10 points from four games was confirmation of Charlton's current momentum, Pardew must have expected City to make a fast start.

So it proved. Emile Mpenza may only be six games into his City career following the cancellation of a deal that saw him start the season in Qatar, yet already he is proving of far greater value to the Blues than fellow strikers Samaras and Bernardo Corradi.

The burly Belgian gave Charlton's defence plenty of early headaches and his ability to retain possession - a trait which eludes both Samaras and Corradi - allows City to build some momentum.

Mpenza had already seen one effort saved by Scott Carson before he rose to meet a Joey Barton corner, forcing Amady Faye to clear off the line.

Talal El Karkouri then threw himself in the way of another Mpenza effort as the hosts' pressure continued to mount.

After Mpenza's flurry came one for Barton. The first and last of his four shots belied Barton's new status as an England international.

But the middle two efforts did have Charlton worried. Carson plucked the first out of the air but the second, an instinctive curling strike after Barton had been set up by Mpenza, brought a good low save from the prospective England keeper.

Charlton were a sporadic threat, their efforts summed up by the knowledge it was City skipper Richard Dunne who came closest to scoring for them as he headed Jerome Thomas' cross just wide of his own goal.

After an impressive first-half, Carson was almost embarrassed at the start of the second when he failed to control Hermann Hreidarsson's back pass.

In the end, it took a bit of quick footwork and an agricultural clearance into touch to prevent Mpenza taking advantage.

Pardew would have been asking major questions about where his defenders had disappeared to if Onuoha had kept his header on target when teenage midfielder Michael Johnson picked him out with a right-wing cross.

Totally unmarked, Onuoha, an England Under-21 international still coveted by Nigeria at senior level, miserably failed to get a firm connection on his header, which looped wide.

After dominating for so long, City were almost caught by a Charlton sucker punch 18 minutes from time when Marcus Bent forced a pass through to Darren Bent, who in turn crossed low to Zheng.

The Chinese forward just had to check his run in order to control, otherwise he would have been clean through, and the delay allowed Onuoha to slide in and make a tackle.

After so many dreadful experiences on home soil already this season, the City fans had largely kept any criticisms to themselves.

However, Samaras' arrival shortly afterwards did not meet with the wholehearted approval of the Blues support and it was the Greek who wasted City's last chance with a diving header which flashed wide.

Get Your Kits Out View : A point gained or two dropped? It all depends if it was the point that keeps City in the Premier League. Disappointing end to a game that started so brightly.


Man City Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Johnson,Barton, Jihai, Ireland (Sinclair 74), Vassell (Samaras 74),Mpenza.

Subs Not Used: Weaver, Dabo, Beasley.

Charlton Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Hreidarsson,Zheng, Song Billong, Faye, Thomas (Rommedahl 90), Marcus Bent,Darren Bent.

Subs Not Used: Randolph, Ambrose, Lisbie, Bougherra.

Att: 41,424

Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

Fulham 1  Manchester City 3         Away day hat trick
Monday 9th April 2007 :  Bill Pierce for Get Your Kits Out at Craven Cottage

 Fulham were jeered off at Craven Cottage as another stunning defeat pushed them to the edge of the relegation pack as Manchester City virtually ensured their own Barclays Premiership survival with a smash-and-grab third consecutive away win.

City boss Stuart Pearce saw his side resist hectic Fulham pressure with cool aplomb and then strike through Joey Barton, DaMarcus Beasley - in the first half - and Darius Vassell to add to their triumphs at Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Fulham boss Chris Coleman left with the boos of the crowd ringing in his ears. They had chanted "Coleman out" at the interval and those who remained to the bitter end after Carlos Bocanegra dragged a goal back from a corner let him have it again at the final whistle.

Fulham started so promisingly with Simon Davies driving a Wayne Routledge pass just wide and Alexey Smertin forced a spectacular reaction save from Andreas Isaksson with a 25-yard drive.

But they were 2-0 down after 35 minutes as City ripped through with some clinical counter-attacks.

Barton's blast left goalkeeper Antti Niemi helpless after 20 minutes after Emile Mpenza turned provider following two goals in four previous starts.

Then DaMarcus Beasley, in for Stephen Ireland, finished just as powerfully when Barton teed him up.

Beasley was back helping in City's defence when he fouled Routledge and earned the game's first booking. When Davies swung over the free-kick it was Heidar Helguson, given a rare start, who jumped highest at the far post but headed just wide.

On 42 minutes, though, it took a fine save by Niemi to prevent City scoring a third goal. Full-back Nedum Onuoha was first to meet Michael Johnson's free-kick and his goal bound effort demanded a superb save at the expense of a corner.

It was largely huff-and-puff fare at the start of the second period and playmaker Smertin lasted only 10 minutes of it before he was replaced by Tomasz Radzinski.

Fulham were already missing key figures like Franck Queudrue, Papa Bouba Diop and Claus Jensen.

Coleman also sent on on-loan striker Vincenzo Montella but the Italian - four goals in just two starts before a sending-off against Tottenham in the FA Cup - had hardly been on the pitch two minutes when Fulham handed Vassell a third City goal.

Mpenza was again at the heart of a smart breakaway but Liam Rosenior, in an unaccustomed left-back role, should have easily cut out his pass down the right.

Instead he stumbled and Vassell raced in to notch his fourth goal of the season - and first in the league since November.

With 11 minutes left big centre-back Bocanegra offered Fulham a ray of hope with a scoring header from a Davies corner - his second goal in two games - but it was inevitably too little too late to save the Cottagers from another damaging defeat.

Get Your Kits Out View : This win put's Friday's point into perspective. nine points clear of the drop zone with a superior goal average makes it virtually ten points clear. A decent showing today but Fulham were pretty inept and their finishing was dire. 

Fulham: Niemi, Volz, Christanval, Bocanegra, Rosenior, Routledge (Dempsey 73), Smertin (Radzinski 55), Brown, Davies, McBride, Helguson (Montella 58).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Knight.

Booked: Bocanegra.

Goals: Bocanegra 76.

Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Distin, Dunne, Ball, Jihai, Johnson, Barton, Beasley (Sinclair 81), Vassell (Samaras 85), Mpenza.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Dabo, Trabelsi.

Booked: Beasley, Vassell, Barton.

Goals: Barton 21, Beasley 36, Vassell 59.

Att: 22,435.

Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

Manchester City 0 Liverpool 0   City settle for summer safety
Saturday April 14, 2007 : Ian Whittell for Get Your Kits Out in the sunshine at the COMSTAD

This unseasonably warm Manchester afternoon brought with it an air of meaningless, end-of-term football. Liverpool still have much to play for in the remaining weeks of the campaign, not least third place in the Premiership, but if there is much more of this to come, roll on summer.
Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce had the right idea, speeding from the scene at the final whistle on a scouting mission. One can assume, the majority of the season-high crowd of 45,883 would have liked to have beaten him to the exit.

City's American winger DaMarcus Beasley struck the bar after one of the day's few moments of skill, his intricate footwork carving an opening in the 74th minute. At the other end, Xabi Alonso almost managed to chip Andreas Isaksson from five yards inside the Liverpool half. But they were rare moments of interest in a soporific contest.
Liverpool's Rafa Benitez insisted his side did not have one eye on their Champions League semi-final with Chelsea. 'I'm disappointed because we had very clear chances in the first half and, for the first 45 minutes we had plenty of possession. If we had taken those chances, it would have been very different,' he said.

'But I don't think the players had an eye on the semi-final. If we had started the game the way we finished it then, yes, maybe you could say they were thinking about [it]. But we started the game really well, tried to move forward, kept the ball and had chances. So, for me, that's not the case.'

The start of the game saw a fifth-minute chance for Jermaine Pennant that Isaksson saved at close range. It should have resulted in a penalty given Michael Ball's tug on the winger. An off-target Emile Mpenza header, Alonso's audacious chip and a Jamie Carragher strike that ended in the side netting were the only other incidents of note for the remainder of the half.

Hopes of an improved second half from either team did not last long. Steven Gerrard headed over a Steve Finnan free-kick, then presented Isaksson with a comfortable catch with a rare on-target effort. John Arne Riise also chanced his arm from long range with a strike that did not miss the City goal by much.

Yet these were only infrequent noteworthy pieces of action that did little to punctuate the mediocrity. Alonso and Finnan, for Liverpool, and Joey Barton, for a disgraceful two-footed lunge on Gerrard, were cautioned in quick succession in the second period, but even that flurry of activity did nothing to raise the on-field temperature.

'We were playing Liverpool, European champions 18 months ago and maybe European champions again this season, so our players had to concentrate and work hard and that's what they did,' said Pearce's right-hand man Steve Wigley.

'There's a relief in respect of us having 41 points, but the season doesn't end here. There are still five games to go and we'd like to get as many points as possible.'

Get Your Kits Out View : A thoroughly uninspiring game made palatable by the result. A few weeks ago we would have snatched your hand off if Liverpool offered City a draw in this fixture. Not impressed with Joey Barton's attempted assassination job on Stevie Gerrard but his performance was worthwhile as was Beasley's for a change. All in all a good point.

 Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Jihai, Vassell (Corradi 82), Barton, Johnson, Beasley, Mpenza (Ireland 62).
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Samaras, Trabelsi.

Booked: Barton.

Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Agger, Carragher, Arbeloa, Pennant (Crouch 75), Alonso, Mascherano (Zenden 85), Riise (Gonzalez 65), Gerrard, Kuyt.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Hyypia.

Booked: Alonso, Finnan.

Att: 45,883

Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

Arsenal 3 Manchester City 1         End of a good run
Tuesday 17th April 2007 :
Richard Hookham for Get Your Kits Out at the Emirates Stadium

Arsenal moved up to third above Liverpool in the Premiership table after sinking hard-working Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.
Tomas Rosicky fired the Gunners into a 12th-minute lead when he slotted home Emmanuel Eboue's right wing cross.

But City hit back when DaMarcus Beasley finished well just before the break.

The visitors looked the better side early in the second half but were undone when Cesc Fabregas and Julio Baptista netted with two fine strikes.

Arsenal went into the game fresh from their victory over Bolton which ended their longest winless run of the season.

City were themselves hitting better form, having moved away from relegation danger thanks to a five-match unbeaten run.

But despite City boss Stuart Pearce setting his stall out by trying to get as many men behind the ball as possible, there was a sense of the inevitable when the Gunners made the early breakthrough.

Vassiriki Diaby dispossessed Darius Vassell with a crunching tackle and fed Eboue, whose whipped cross from the right was clinically despatched by Rosicky.

But despite losing Diaby minutes later to a head injury, Arsenal added even more firepower when Baptista was handed his chance by Arsene Wenger.

The Brazilian striker was soon in the thick of the action when he was fouled just outside the City penalty area by Richard Dunne.

Dunne, who was the visitors' stand-out player of the half, then blocked Baptista's subsequent 25-yard free-kick by heading over.

Fabregas saw a superb 30-yard strike well parried by City keeper Andreas Isaksson as the Gunners continued to pile on the pressure.

But totally against the run of play, City were level.

Jens Lehmann's weak clearance was intercepted by Joey Barton that enabled Michael Johnson to thread the ball in for Beasley to finish.

The goal lifted the visitors and they nearly went ahead in the 44th minute when Barton danced his way passed the Arsenal defence before forcing Lehmann to save well to his right.

City started the second half as they finished the first, with Arsenal looked rattled by some uncompromising tackling.

Rosicky and Fabregas, in particular, felt the force of two solid blocks as they looked ready to shoot.

Wenger's side nearly retook the lead when first Emmanuel Adebayor's effort was well saved by Isaksson and then Alexander Hleb flashed a left-footed strike just wide.

Adebayor was then denied twice inside three minutes - the first by a brilliant block from Sylvain Distin before Isaksson got down to keep out his powerful header.

But Arsenal's renewed pressure finally paid off in the 73rd minute when City's defending for once let them down.

They failed to clear their lines and Fabregas collected a loose ball just out the box before lashing home an unstoppable volley.

Beasley had the ball in the back of the net at the other end three minutes later but was ruled offside after lobbing Lehmann.

And City's brave resistance was finally ended when Hleb jinked his way into the penalty area and his cross was converted by Baptista.

Get Your Kits Out View : Not a bad showing against the Arse who just about deserved the result. Looks like the lads have turned the corner but Watford on Saturday is a chance to show the fans that they can actually beat the crap teams......

Arsenal: Lehmann, Eboue, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Hleb, Fabregas (Denilson 85), Silva, Rosicky (Senderos 90), Diaby (Julio Baptista 30), Adebayor.
Subs Not Used: Almunia, Djourou.

Goals: Rosicky 12, Fabregas 73, Julio Baptista 80.

Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin (Corradi 78), Ball, Jihai (Samaras 78), Hamann, Barton, Johnson, Beasley, Vassell (Ireland 90).
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Trabelsi.

Goals: Beasley 41.

Att: 59,913.

Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Watford 1 Manchester City 1               City send Watford down
Saturday April 21, 2007 : Martin Palmer for GYKO at Vicarage Road

Watford manager Aidy Boothroyd admitted his team 'did not have enough' after today's 1-1 draw with
The goal came from an error from Ben Foster and although Watford later equalise... Manchester City meant they were relegated to the Championship.
An error by on-loan Manchester UniŁed goalkeeper Ben Foster (pictured left) allowed Darius Vassell to give City a 53rd-minute lead, and substitute Tamas Priskin's 75th-minute equaliser could not save Watford.

'We now know what is required for this league, and we did not have enough of it,' said Boothroyd.

'It was an individual error from Ben, but he has been magnificent for us this season... I have learned loads this season. I have had "bouncebackability" - to quote Iain Dowie - and effort from my players, but it is not enough in this league. I think we can come straight back up, but it will be very tough.'

In the first half, Watford, who began the day 11 points adrift of safety, created the better chances against an off-colour City, but their threat was only sporadic.
There was still little to City's attacking play, when, in the 53rd minute, they were presented with the lead by Foster. Collecting a back-pass from Doyley, Foster attempted to pass the ball to Powell. But he could only find Vassell, who guided the ball into the unguarded net from 25 yards.

Boothroyd's decision to introduce Priskin paid off when the forward equalised. Douglas Rinaldi found him in space with a clever pass and Priskin steadied himself before drilling the ball beyond Isaksson from 15 yards.

Four minutes from the end, Watford came close to scoring the winner and gaining at least a temporary stay of execution when King headed inches wide, but it was not to be.

Get Your Kits Out View : One shot on goal for each side shows just how poor both these teams were on the day. If SP is satisfied with that then we're in for a rough ride next season. Happy with a point..... no not really!

Watford: Foster, Doyley, Carlisle, DeMerit, Powell, Bangura, Mahon, Francis (Kabba 24), Bouazza, King, Rinaldi (Shittu 82), Kabba (Priskin 65).
Subs Not Used: Lee, Mariappa.

Booked: Carlisle.

Goals: Priskin 75.

Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Jihai (Ireland 85), Hamann, Barton, Johnson, Beasley (Miller 35), Vassell, Miller (Samaras 76).
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Corradi.

Booked: Hamann.

Goals: Vassell 53.

Att: 18,537

Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).

Manchester City 0 Aston Villa 2           Hapless
Saturday April 28th 2007 : Peter Keeling for GYKO at the COMSTAD

Joey Barton missed two golden chances to give Stuart Pearce's side their first home League goal since 1st January. Now Manchester City have one home match left, and that against Manchester United, to score the four goals that will save them ending the season with the worst home scoring record sinceStuart Pearce masterminded a tidy profit for us the Premiership was formed. With 10 goals from 18 games they have now not scored at home since the game against Everton. The doleful home record belongs to relegated Sunderland with 10 goals in 2003.

Barton could not have had better chances to end the goal famine, sending a penalty high over the bar just before half time and then in the 62nd minute beating last man Olof Mellberg but, then with only Danish keeper Thomas Sorensen to beat eight yards from goal, he hesitated, allowing the Danish keeper to close down the space and block his tame effort.
With both managers still harbouring thoughts of an outside chance of clinching a UEFA Cup place the accent was on attacking football, City particularly anxious to score and end their barren spell at home.

They looked brighter at the start, three times getting behind the Villa defence, notably when Belgium international Emile Mpenza forged down the right and plunged a dangerous cross just outside the six-yard box only for Mellberg to clear with his head as Georgios Samaras closed in.

Just to underline his work-rate, Mpenza headed away from his own goalmouth in a Villa counter-attack three minutes later, but City were obtaining more of the ball in midfield with Barton having an absorbing battle with Villa captain and fellow England international Gareth Barry.

However Villa were beginning to find their men better by utilising a short passing game and in the 24th minute it was no surprise when Norway striker John Carew put them ahead.

Ashley Young, on the left side of midfield, had been looking increasingly influential, and from his inch-perfect cross he found Carew, a fine focal point for the visitors' attack. The lanky striker's header gave Andreas Isaksson no chance.

In first-half injury time it looked as though City's home goal famine was to end when Sorensen conceded a penalty for fouling Darius Vassell. But Barton leant back as he struck the spot kick and, as any good football textbook would tell him, the ball rose high, wide and not-so-handsome over the bar.

Villa forged two goals ahead with a superb 75th-minute goal from Shaun Maloney's 30-yard free kick. He had come on as a substitute only four minutes earlier and his strike effectively clinched victory to extend Villa's unbeaten run to seven matches.

City badly need a rethink in tactics and team selection and their manager's programme notes which envisaged a top-10 final placing in the Premiership could not have been wider off the mark. By the final whistle there were only a couple of thousand fans left and they vented their anger and frustration at manager Stuart Pearce following another wretched home display.

Stuart Pearce shrugged off another disappointing day at Eastlands, saying: "I'm very confident to be honest, I don't feel there's a better man out there to do my job. "I know what constraints I've had to work under for the last two years at this football club and I know what needs to be done. "If the chairman feels another manager is better than I am then I'm behind the chairman, but he doesn't. He feels I'm the best man for the job."

Get Your Kits Out View : Things seem to go from bad to unbelievable, at least at Maine Road we had the Gypsy Curse to fall back on. With the present set of duffers the future looks bleak. Next weeks clash with UniŁed gives them a marvellous opportunity to make up for a whole seasons worth of sheer dross by putting in a performance to be proud of - it's not impossible but highly unlikely....

Man City: Isaksson, Onuoha (Jihai 46), Dunne, Distin, Ball, Hamann (Sinclair 68), Barton, Ireland, Vassell, Samaras, Mpenza.
Subs Not Used: Weaver, Dabo, Trabelsi.

Booked: Hamann.

Aston Villa: Sorensen, Bardsley, Mellberg, Laursen, Bouma, Gardner, Petrov, Barry, Young, Carew (Maloney 71), Agbonlahor (Moore 86).
Subs Not Used: Taylor, Cahill, Berger.

Goals: Carew 24, Maloney 75.

Att: 40,799.

Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).

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