Tottenham Hotspur 1
Manchester City 5 Not So
Wednesday 29th January 2014 :
George Hatton for GYKO at White Hart Lane
These are the sort of tests that champions
pass. Tottenham Hotspur went into this game rejuvenated
and unbeaten in the Premier League under Tim Sherwood
and determined to make a statement of their own in the
race for Champions League football. City, though, never
looked like doing anything other than win, thereby
extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 20
matches and jumping to the top of the table.
Tottenham were their equals during the second half of
the first half but City ruthlessly exploited the
decision of the officials to dismiss Danny Rose after 49
minutes for a tackle on Edin Dzeko and also award a
penalty against him. Rose did appear to touch the ball
first but nobody in sky blue cared, as Yaya Touré scored
from the spot and Dzeko put the points to bed shortly
The first half had been shaped by a Sergio Agüero
masterclass, in which the Argentina striker scored one
and went close on other occasions before he felt his
hamstring on 44 minutes and limped off. That was the
blot on City's evening. But the positives washed over
it. Some of City's football was beautiful and there was
a first league goal for the substitute Stevan Jovetic as
they closed out their latest rout.
Tottenham showed spirit. They complained about the
decision to disallow Michael Dawson's far-post finish on
36 minutes for offside against him or Emmanuel Adebayor,
while they fumed about the penalty/red card one-two
punch. But there could be no doubt about which was the
Sherwood called City the best in the country and up
there with Bayern Munich and Barcelona in Europe, and
the truly sobering thing was that the visitors could
easily have matched their six-goal margin of victory
over Tottenham at the Etihad in November. Confidence
courses through this City team. They look to play their
football first and worry about the opposition second and
they battered Tottenham at the outset. David Silva was
outstanding – does he ever have an off day? – and, when
you have Agüero, one thing comes as standard.
The warning shot from him came in the fourth minute.
Agüero received the ball from Fernandinho and left
Dawson and then Vlad Chiriches in his wake before
shooting against the far post. The worry in the home
seats was palpable.
Agüero's deadlock-breaker was undercut by trademark
explosiveness. The creation was straightforward, Vincent
Kompany finding Silva and Silva rolling it into Agüero,
who had broken away from Dawson and Rose. The angle was
not friendly and Hugo Lloris was off his line quickly.
But Agüero's touch was instinctive and the ball was on
its way into the far corner.
Manuel Pellegrini pleased with table-topping performance
Agüero seemed to be everywhere. His header from Gaël
Clichy's cross drew a flying save from Lloris and he had
another effort cleared off the line by Rose and then
fired a third just over the crossbar. It was a pity that
his evening ended early.
Tottenham treated the ball like a hot potato in the
first 20 minutes but they showed their showed character
to fight back. City were not infallible in defence – one
Christian Eriksen corner sparked flutters - and Touré
had two head rushes that landed him in trouble. Having
raked Mousa Dembélé to earn a booking, he tripped Rose
to flirt with disaster. There was no second yellow.
Niggle crept in. Martin Demichelis went in on Adebayor
and was booked, although he felt that the striker had
left a boot in on him while Agüero thought Dawson had
elbowed him. He had not. Tottenham failed to catch a
break when Dawson turned home Eriksen's whipped
free-kick; the captain may have been in an offside
position while Adebayor, in the middle of the goal, was
certainly in front of the last defender.
The game lurched again on further controversy. When Rose
lunged in to halt Dzeko as the City striker went
through, it looked, at first sighting, to be a reckless
tackle but the replays showed it to be fair. Marriner
appeared to take advice from his assistant Scott Ledger
before pointing to the spot and Rose to the
City turned the screw. After Silva had wriggled and
struck the post, Chiriches erred and presented Dzeko
with a shooting opportunity that he lashed past Lloris.
Tottenham's 10 men were game and the substitute Étienne
Capoue scored at the second attempt following a corner.
But, after Jovetic's deflected shot had beaten Lloris,
Kompany had the final word when he turned home after
Dzeko's effort had hit Nabil Bentaleb.
Spurs: Lloris, Walker, Rose, Dembélé (Capoue 46),
Dawson, Chiriches, Lennon, Bentaleb, Adebayor, Eriksen (Holtby
83), Sigurdsson (Naughton 55)
Unused subs: Soldado, Defoe, Chadli, Friedel
Bookings: Rose (sent off), Naughton
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany,
Demichelis, Clichy, Navas, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure
(Nastasic 69), Silva (Kolarov 80), Aguero (Jovetic 45),
Unused subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Negredo,
Rodwell Bookings: Yaya Toure,
Zabaleta, Navas, Demichelis
Referee: Andre Marriner
Manchester City 4
Saturday 25th January 2014 : GYKO
at the Etihad
After a first half that represented a return to the flat
Manchester City of last season the usually relaxed
Manuel Pellegrini was irate. In the dressing room at the
interval the Chilean let his players know that to trail
2-0 to a 16th-placed Championship club was just not on.
"I was very angry because I know what happens in these
kind of games if you play the way we did," the manager
said. "I didn't lose my temper – it's important to think
of the best way to react for the team. [This] was
another way because I felt the team needed something
Pellegrini said it had been his side's poorest half of
the season. "We didn't create any chances to score, they
scored two goals and had at least two more chances. We
were always very open to the counter-attack and we
didn't have a lot of movement to create space," he said.
After Fernando Forestieri and Troy Deeney had both taken
full advantage of poor defending from Martín Demichelis,
City were staring at the end of their quadruple dream.
Yet Pellegrini drew the response he required by
introducing Vincent Kompany for Jack Rodwell – pushing
Demichelis into the latter's midfield berth – and Pablo
Zabaleta for Micah Richards.
It pleased him. "Yes, of course. I changed just two
[players] but we changed absolutely the character of the
team and that was also important," Pellegrini said. "I
think maybe in the first half we didn't give 100% and
that's impossible in football today. But in the second
half when we wanted it we could, and that's very
City's comeback was an illustration of how Pellegrini
has mentally reinvigorated players who last season might
have folded. "That's why it's a touch of attention
[warning] for the team, a lesson for the whole squad,"
he said. "But it also demonstrates that this team has
enough trust to believe what they can do if they play in
the way they must. This experience will happen every
year in cup games because normally the players don't
believe it will be so difficult. But the most important
thing is the way they react and that gives me another
way that this team can win."
It helps, of course, to have a player of Sergio Agüero's
calibre. After a month out with a calf injury, the
Argentinian striker resumed the flying form of
beforehand and his second-half hat-trick made it five
goals in three appearances since returning. He has now
scored 25 goals in 24 matches and Pellegrini believes he
could soon join Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as
one of the world's very best.
Pellegrini added: "It's what we are trying to do. It
wasn't easy for Sergio to come back from his injury.
That's why I said it was not the idea to give him 90
minutes but we needed him the whole match and he played
without a problem. He makes the difference. In two or
three matches he will continue improving because it's
always difficult to come back from a calf injury. He's a
very young player who has a lot of things to improve. He
has the quality to be among the best players but that
depends on what he wants to reach in his career."
Agüero's first two efforts drew City level before
Aleksandar Kolarov's 25-yard pot-shot squirmed through
the hands of the Watford goalkeeper, Jonathan Bond. It
was then left to Agüero to complete the victory with a
Steven Jovetic came on for Marcos Lopes in the 57th
minute to continue his comeback from the injury
nightmare that has blighted the start of his City
career. "It's been so difficult. I got one injury, then
another," he said. "The problem was I came to Hong Kong
[for a pre-season tournament], whereas in South Africa
the players had been working three times a day. I didn't
start at the beginning of the pre-season, so when I
played games I was always a bit behind everyone else.
All this time I've been working hard, in the gym,
outside. But now finally I feel good and ready to
help."We'll need all the players fit. In this team all
the players are important. There's a lot of ga I've
wanted to score but I also need to say thank you to the
guys. They've done so well in the Premier League – and
we are playing Barcelona in the Champions League.
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Richards (Zabaleta 46),
Kolarov, Lescott, Demichelis, Yaya Toure, Rodwell
(Kompany 46), Lopes (Jovetic 57), Navas, Dzeko, Aguero
Unused subs: Hart, Nastasic, Clichy, Fernandinho
Watford: Bond, Angella, Ekstrand, Battocchio,
Deeney, Forestieri (Cassetti 60), Doyley, Murray (Abdi
75), Pudli, Faraoni (Fabbrini 84), Anya
Unused subs: Almunia, Ranegie, Fabbrini, Hoban,
O'Nien Bookings: Pudli,
Referee: Kevin Friend
West Ham United 0
Manchester City 3 West Hammered
Tuesday 21st January 2014 :
Richard Harrison at Upton Park
Sam Allardyce had mused after West
Ham United's Capital One Cup quarter-final win at
Tottenham Hotspur, in the knowledge that it would be
Manchester City next, that the competition's format had
a flaw. "It is a shame," the West Ham manager said,
"that the semi-final cannot be over one leg." He
suggested that West Ham might have a chance if that
one-off tie were at Upton Park.
The events here did little to strengthen the hypothesis.
Yes, this semi-final was already over, after the mauling
that City handed out in the first leg but the manner in
which they strolled to victory suggested that they would
be happy to play West Ham whenever and wherever.
City looked sharp, even as they played within themselves
and the only question, from the moment that Álvaro
Negredo nodded them into an early lead, was the number
of goals that they would deign to score, how severely
they would punish West Ham.
An utter rout appeared to be on but City settled on
three, making nine overall, with Sergio Agüero, who
returned to the starting XI, and Negredo, again, doing
the damage. The strikers were in remorseless mood and
they were helped by a thrusting performance from the
18-year-old Brazilian-born Portuguese winger Marcos
City's confidence is overflowing and they will surely
hope that Manchester United, rather than Sunderland,
emerge from the other semi-final to be the opposition in
the Wembley final on 2 March. City took their goal tally
for the season to 106 in all competitions. They are
unbeaten in 18 matches. And, most tantalising of all,
they remain in contention for all four trophies.
"I'm proud," Manuel Pellegrini, the manager, said. "We
are the only team still in all four. I have never been
to Wembley as a manager, so it is special. We just want
to continue with our ambition."
Gallows humour framed this occasion. West Ham boasted
only one hat-trick in the team and that was Roger
Johnson with his three relegations. Forget City's quest
for the quadruple. The defender is on for his own
version. A local bookmaker advertised the return on a
7-0 West Ham win in his window beforehand: the keys to
"Being realistic," Allardyce wrote in his programme
notes, with glorious understatement, "we are unlikely to
overturn our first-leg deficit." West Ham, and only West
Ham, had been in this situation before. In 1990 they
crashed to a then League Cup semi-final record 6-0
defeat to Oldham Athletic. A line for the historians:
they won the return leg 3-0.
The West Ham nightmare continued after two minutes and
36 seconds and Allardyce was left to rage at the lack of
marking that presented Negredo with a free header in
front of goal.
Perhaps it was Agüero's presence inside the area that
brought on James Tomkins' brain-fade. Either way, it was
negligent in the extreme of the West Ham centre-half to
drift away from Negredo and he headed Lopes's left-wing
cross beyond the exposed Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The attendance was recorded at 14,390 but with tickets
still pricey, the real surprise was that so many turned
up for such a hopeless cause. There was no cup fever,
only angst from Allardyce, which deepened with the
losses through injury of Joe Cole and Mohamed Diamé.
Cole tweaked a groin and Diamé departed on a stretcher
in the last minute after banging his knee.
Allardyce said Diamé's problem might not be as bad as it
looked but the frustration was everywhere. Allardyce
urgently wants reinforcements for the quest to hit his
target of 22 points from the remaining 16 Premier League
matches to dodge relegation but he seems to be hitting
"I would not have a clue," he said, when asked about the
prospects of January purchases. "Every time I get a
signing, somebody else takes him." West Ham were close
to a deal for Monaco's Lacina Traoré – Allardyce even
attended the work permit hearing – but the striker is
now bound for Everton. Other players have turned down
West Ham, including Everton's John Heitinga.
City's second came after another burst from Lopes. The
ball broke to Agüero, who did not look the favourite to
get past Razvan Rat and Matt Taylor but he did, due to
hapless defending. He tapped past Jaaskelainen as though
on the training ground. Agüero had earlier been denied
from a distance by the goalkeeper.
Allardyce got 45 minutes out of Andy Carroll, on the
striker's first start of the season, and he put himself
about, particularly in the air. Kevin Nolan, back from a
four-match ban, had the ball in the net on six minutes
only to be correctly pulled back for offside.
West Ham sought the most hollow of consolations in the
second half and there were flashes from Ravel Morrison
of his touch and mazy dribbling. He had two decent
appeals for penalties overlooked and the substitute
Carlton Cole twice went close.
Yet the evening was summed up by Diamé running at
Carlton Cole inside the City area and neither player
changing directions and, shortly afterwards, Negredo
running in between Johnson and Taylor as though they did
not exist before stretching to scoop past Jaaskelainen.
"Nine-nil in your cup final," taunted the City fans.
West Ham wanted to raise confidence and restore pride.
West Ham United: Jaaskelainen, Nolan, Tomkins, Rat,
Carroll (C.Cole 45mins), Taylor, Morrison, Diarra, Diame
(Collison 90mins), J.Cole (Downing 46mins), Johnson
Unused subs: Jarvis, Adrian, Noble, Chambers
Bookings: Diarra 37mins
Manchester City: Pantilimon; Boyata, Lescott (c),
Nastasic, Clichy; Fernandinho, Garcia (Rodwell 63mins),
Navas (Kolarov 77mins), Lopes; Negredo, Aguero (Jovetic
64mins) Unused subs: Hart,
Demichelis, Dzeko, Zabaleta
Bookings: Aguero 30mins
Referee: Christopher Foy
Manchester City 4
Cardiff City 2
Saturday 18th January 2014
: GYKO at the Etihad
Manchester City's100th goal of this
stellar campaign arrived in the opening quarter-hour
though confirmation of victory had to wait until the
closing minutes when Yaya Touré and Sergio Agüero
collected numbers 102 and 103.
The Ivorian's was a simple give-and-go with Agüero that
ended with his left-foot shot beating David Marshall.
The Argentinian's 21st goal of the season came when he
bedazzled the visiting rearguard before rifling home
beyond the goalkeeper.
This meant the crowd had witnessed yet more stockpiling
of goals when the usual glut City have returned here had
not been required if they were to become the fastest
club to hit 100 in all competitions.
Score once against Cardiff and Chelsea's mark of 42
games, which was set last season, would be broken in
eight fewer outings by Sheikh Mansour's boys in blue.
The effort that chalked up the century derived from
David Silva, who enjoyed free rein all afternoon. He
took possession near the Cardiff byline, beat Kevin
Théophile-Catherine, the visiting right-back, left a
sluggish Gary Medel, who was busy claiming handball,
before finding Edin Dzeko.
The shot was miscued and Kevin McNaughton thought he may
have cleared but after a pause goalline technology
informed the referee, Neil Swarbrick, correctly, that
the left-back had failed, and it was 1-0 to City.
A contest that instantly became a game of attack v
defence from kick-off – and stayed the same, more or
less, throughout – threatened to become a post-Christmas
turkey shoot before the break was reached as City
continually reloaded and aimed both barrels at Cardiff.
Silva was in mesmeric mood, with virtually every City
surge coming from him. It was his floated ball that
landed sweetly for Álvaro Negredo and the striker should
have doubled the score. The man known as The Beast in
these parts had another clear chance moments later but
his effort missed, being prodded to the right of
Negredo and company rued this sloppiness when, having
been coasting, Cardiff split them open with ease.
Théophile-Catherine began a move down the right by
finding Aron Gunnarsson whose instant flick set Craig
Noone on a diagonal trajectory towards Joe Hart. The
wideman dropped a shoulder to leave Vincent Kompany a
spectator then rifled in the finish.
This was just before the half-hour. Four minutes later
Jesús Navas had a fourth league goal of his debut City
season. Touré imperiously bundled Gunnarsson away from
the ball near his area, span 180 degrees, then let go a
pass with the outside of his right foot along the City
left to Dzeko. Trying to cut inside he ran into Steven
Caulker and when the ball found Navas the finish came
via Marshall's right hand.
If Pellegrini warned his team at half-time to be wary of
complacency the Chilean will have been displeased at
what he saw a few minutes into the second period. Jordon
Mutch was allowed to wander forward unchallenged and let
go a shot that had Hart saving sharply to his left.
Dzeko, whose calling card features an ability to
convince and bemuse, offered an illustration when he
ambled down the left and mishit an effort that went
wide. The forward then proved he has a light touch when
being the third man in a sequence that nearly gave Silva
the goal he deserved.
Negredo, who would be replaced by Agüero after this
move, passed to Aleksandar Kolarov on the left. He
pinged the ball back into Dzeko and his deft stab
allowed Silva to wheel around the back of the defence
before poking his attempt to the left of Marshall but
wide of his post.
Noone indicated his equaliser had been no fluke when
roving from close to his area to near City's, the
attempt at Hart requiring another fine stop.
Fraizer Campbell made the scoreline respectable for
Cardiff when taking advantage of the snoozing Blues to
finish from a corner. The loss, though, leaves Ole
Gunnar Solskjaer's side bottom, with the new manager
having lost his first two league games. "We can stay up.
No doubt about that," he said. The league got tighter on
Saturday – from bottom to 10th it is six points.
"We will look to improve. Parts of all the performances
have been very good. For half an hour we did very well
but for two or three minutes they blitzed us. You have
to enjoy life, these kind of performances won't make me
look older because at times we looked like a proper
"We did feel that after about 60 minutes we were in the
game. The crowd was maybe turning a little against them
and you start wondering if we could get something from
the game, but they have quality players who scored their
extra two goals."
Hart, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Demichelis, Kompany, Garcia,
Yaya Toure, Navas (Clichy 82) , Silva (Milner 80),
Dzeko, Negredo (Aguero 62) Unused subs:
Pantilimon, Nastasic, Lescott, Fernandinho
Bookings: Negredo, Kolarov
Cardiff City: Marshall, Theophile-Catherine,
McNaughton (John 68), Caulker, Turner, Noone, Gunnarsson
(Eikrem 78), Medel, Mutch, Whittingham (Bellamy 68),
Campbell Unused subs:
Lewis, Kim, Hudson, Odemwingie
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Manchester City 5
Blackburn Rovers 0 It's
All Rover Now
Wednesday 15th January 2014 : GYKO
at the Etihad
Manuel Pellegrini hailed the 99 goals
his Manchester City side have scored in all competitions
as Blackburn Rovers were routed 5-0 in the FA Cup
Sergio Agüero found the net 49 seconds after coming off
the bench on his return from injury and Pellegrini
stated that offered him a good selection headache as
Álvaro Negredo and Edin Dzeko, who started in the City
attack, each scored twice.
City face Cardiff City next in Saturday's Premier League
game at the Etihad and Pellegrini welcomed being faced
with potentially having to choose two of his three
"That is not a problem," the manager said. "It is a
problem when you don't have players to choose. I think
that Álvaro and Edin are in a very good moment. It is
very important for the team that Sergio comes back and
scored. We have so many games in the future and we don't
have any problem in that part of the field. We also have
[Stevan] Jovetic coming back and it must be important
for the team."
Asked if he rated the three as the best strike force in
Europe, Pellegrini said: "I don't think we have the
three best but I think we have three top players."
Of the tally of 99, he added: "It is an important amount
of goals. It is important for the fans to come here to
know we are going to try to play a very good game and
score the most amount of goals that we can."
The 99 have come from 33 matches and City average four
goals a game at home, with 64 from 16 fixtures.
Agüero scored City's fourth, within moments of entering
as late replacement, and Pellegrini is clear he could
have no sympathy with the opposition over having such a
stand-out substitute. "I act without thinking of the
other team," said the Chilean. "It is important for our
team to keep playing in the same way, changing names but
in the same style. We try to play independent of the
score at that time."
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Richards (Huws 77),
Clichy, Lescott, Nastasic, Garcia, Fernandinho (Kolarov
46), Milner, Navas, Negredo (Aguero 72), Dzeko
Unused subs: Hart, Demichelis, Lopes, Zabaleta
Bookings: Kolarov, Milner
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson (Eastwood 46), Spurr,
Henley, Kilgallon, Hanley, Lowe, Marshall, Cairney,
Taylor, Williamson (Mahoney 89), Campbell (King 60)
Unused subs: Dunn, Olsson, Rochina, Gestede
Referee: Craig Pawson
Newcastle United 0
Manchester City 2 Sami injury sours
Sunday 12th January 2014 : don
Livingstone at St James Park
An afternoon punctuated by
refereeing controversy, rising tempers and Samir Nasri's
removal on a stretcher nursing serious knee ligament
damage ended with Manchester City back on top of the
Premier League and Newcastle United suffering a fourth
Along the way came the unedifying sight of Alan Pardew
calling Manuel Pellegrini "a fucking old cunt", plus
numerous reminders that City's defenders are mortals
after all while Newcastle, who probably deserved a
point, are much, much better than their recent run
There were also mysteries. Why, for instance, did Pardew
leave it so late before liberating Hatem Ben Arfa from
the bench? And how on earth was Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa not
sent off for a dreadful challenge on Nasri?
It did not take long before Pardew was muttering to
himself. Newcastle had gone a goal down at the
conclusion of a move which began with David Silva's
hoodwinking of Vurnon Anita and involved Aleksandar
Kolarov dodging Yanga-Mbiwa and crossing low. Connecting
with that delivery Edin Dzeko - whose place could be
under threat after Sergio Agüero said he could make his
return from injury in Wednesday's FA Cup replay with
Blackburn - seamlessly swept the ball beyond Tim Krul on
the half volley before Steven Taylor could intercept.
The game had barely kicked off when Kolarov turned
Yanga-Mbiwa - deputising at right back for the suspended
Mathieu Debuchy - inside out and, suitably encouraged,
Pellegrini's players launched a series of increasingly
menacing attacks down that flank. With Silva and the
seemingly irrepresible Kolarov invariably at the heart
of such manoeuvres it clearly made uncomfortable viewing
for Pardew whose defence was not merely missing
Debuchy's presence but that of the injured Fabricio
Coloccini, Newcastle's best centre half.
It hardly helped that normally reliable home performers
such as Cheick Tioté initially gave the ball away far
too easily, provoking fast counter-attacks on City's
If Newcastle's fortunes appeared to be improving when
Taylor volleyed fractionally wide following a corner and
Pablo Zabaleta's failure to deal with a high ball
prefaced the impressive Joe Hart saving brilliantly from
Yohan Cabaye, fortune was about to frown on Pardew.
When Tioté lashed the ball into the top corner quite
brilliantly from just outside the area after City could
only semi clear a corner Newcastle's players ran towards
their manager in celebration unaware that referee, Mike
Jones, had disallowed the "goal" for offside.
Prolonged, booing proved testament to the crowd's anger
but three Newcastle players were in offside positions
when Tioté "scored". If a couple could not be said to be
interfering with play, Yoan Gouffran, hovering in front
of Hart and arguably blocking his view, did not,
technically at least, possess such a strong case.
The latest refinement to the law clarifies the
obstruction rule by re-defining it as "clearly
obstructing the line of vision or movement or
challenging an opponent for the ball." Hart argued that
Gouffran's position prevented him from diving but Pardew
felt that this was a pedantic application of a rule
rendered irrelevant by the quality and ferocity of
Tioté's effort which Hart was never going to save. So
furious was Pardew, that as half time beckoned, he
initiated a less than amicable nose to nose technical
area debate with Pellegrini. In the end it took the
intervention of John Carver, Newcastle's normally
cumbustible assistant manager, to restore an uneasy
The mood remained anything but harmonious. From
Newcastle's viewpoint this was probably no bad thing.
With righteous indignation upping their adrenalin levels
they delighted in demonstrating that, inexorable as City
can be going forward, defending is not always their
With Tioté and Anita beginning to make much more of an
impact in central midfield, it took a superb save from
Hart to divert Cabaye's swerving shot from 25 yards at
the start of the second half. While Hart subsequently
did very well to deny Loïc Rémy a goal, Cabaye was
slightly fortunate not to receive a second yellow card
for a foolish tackle on Jesús Navas - on for Dzeko. By
now the increasingly febrile atmosphere had already
produced five yellow cards - with Cabaye, Tioté, Moussa
Sissoko, Zabaleta and Fernandinho all going into Jones's
Perhaps thinking about the perils of his drive out of St
James' Park, the referee refrained from dismissing
Cabaye following another yellow card worthy challenge on
Kolarov, settling for a final warning.
Jones almost certainly should have shown Yanga-Mbiwa a
straight red card for that wild hack at Nasri which left
the City midfielder writhing in agony and requiring
prolonged treatment before being carried off with his
left leg in a brace protecting torn medial ligaments. As
tears rolled down Nasri's face, Yanga-Mbiwa was merely
booked but almost immediately found himself replaced by
Massaido Haïdara in one of Pardew's more sensible moves
of the afternoon.
By now Newcastle's manager had finally introduced Ben
Arfa who threatened to produce an equaliser. Pardew's
only problem was that his side had no option but to
leave themselves open to visiting counter-attacks.
Although Taylor thwarted one such advance by clearing
off the line from Negredo, the same striker doubled
City's advantage at the end of a break initiated by
James Milner deep in stoppage time. It left the
scoreline looking deceptively, and flatteringly,
comfortable but, much as Newcastle could feel hard done
by, their manager had hardly covered himself in glory.
Newcastle United: Krul, Yanga-Mbiwa (Haidara 82),
Santon, Williamson, Tiote, Taylor, Sissoko, Anita (Cisse
73), Cabaye, Remy, Gouffran (Ben Arfa 81)
Unused subs: Gosling, Elliot, Marveaux, Sam Ameobi
Bookings: Sissoko, Cabaye, Tiote, Yanga-Mbiwa
Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kolarov,
Demichelis, Kompany, Yaya Toure (Garcia 60),
Fernandinho, Nasri (Milner 76), Silva, Negredo, Dzeko
(Navas 51) Unused subs: Pantilimon, Clichy,
Bookings: Fernandinho, Zabaleta
Referee: Michael Jones
Manchester City 6
West Ham United 0 Look Away Sam
Wednesday 8th January 2014 : GYKO
at the Etihad
The only surprise, perhaps, was that
Manchester City restricted themselves to six. The tie
was so one-sided, the opposition so utterly abject, that
there were moments when it was easy to imagine City
would go even better than the seven they rattled past
Norwich earlier in the season, never mind the six that
Arsenal and Tottenham sieved inside this stadium. The
fifth goal went in with more than a third of the game
still to go and, after that, the goal machine that is
Manuel Pellegrini's team must have been feeling
charitable to add only one more.
Their latest haul, incorporating a stylish hat-trick
from Alvaro Negredo, brings their tally to 59 goals in
15 home matches this season, keeping up the remarkable
average of almost four every game. To put it another
way, they have just won in straight sets – 6-0, 6-3, 6-0
– against three of London's top clubs. West Ham, once
again, were shocking in their ineptitude, and Allardyce's latest ordeal ended with the away fans
making it very clear they did not want him as manager.
West Ham certainly did their bit to be remembered as the
least distinguished team to visit this ground this
season. It was a capitulation that makes the return leg
a formality and means City can start their arrangements
for a Wembley final against either Sunderland or
Manchester United. Judging by the chants of "David Moyes
is a football genius", their supporters do not seem too
alarmed by the prospect of an all-Manchester affair.
West Ham, in stark contrast, move on to the game at
Cardiff that Allardyce had always prioritised, lurching
deeper into crisis and with it becoming increasingly
clear that a good proportion of the club's followers
have had enough. Allardyce was the subject of loud,
abusive chants as he stood, almost motionless, by the
touchline, his hood up in a filthy Mancunian downpour,
hands firmly entrenched in his pockets. He looked a
picture of misery.
At one point early on, Allardyce's team won a corner and
the away end celebrated as though a goal had been
scored. Unfortunately, in football it is never
encouraging when supporters resort to gallows humour.
The corner was cleared and it was the next piece of
action that saw Yaya Touré pick out Negredo's run for
the Spaniard to crack in a wonderful opening goal.
Manchester City v West Ham United - Capital One Cup
Semi-Final: First Leg Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo
completes his hat trick goal by scoring his side's
fourth goal against West Ham. Photograph: Shaun
Negredo's perfectly judged volley came after 11 minutes
and was probably the moment the West Ham supporters, who
saw their team trounced 5-0 by Nottingham Forest in the
FA Cup on Sunday, knew the night was about to become
another public humiliation. Their team had Mohamed Diamé,
a midfielder, playing in attack and a full-back, George
McCartney, in the centre of defence alongside Roger
Johnson, fast-tracked into the team after his loan from
Wolverhampton Wanderers. They were out of their depth
and afterwards it spoke volumes that Dzeko, scorer of
the last two goals, talked about it being 5-0. The
striker had evidently lost count.
Perhaps the most alarming part for West Ham was that
their opponents were still a good notch or two below
their optimum. The bottom line is that City did not have
to be at their very best when the gulf was so
considerable. Plenty of teams have taken a pummelling at
City this season but not all of them have surrendered so
meekly. For West Ham, it brought a now-familiar sense of
embarrassment, with 11 goals conceded in four days.
Negredo's second was another beauty, flicking the ball
into Dzeko, then running on to the return pass and
sweeping a rising, diagonal shot beyond Adrián, West
Ham's overworked goalkeeper.
The game was by now already an exercise in damage
limitation for West Ham, and when Touré surged through
the middle of their defence to make it three, six
minutes before the interval, any lingering hopes of
Allardyce's team finding a way back into the tie went
from miniscule to non-existent. Those driving runs from
Touré are a formidable sight, but there was something
fairly wretched about the way Johnson simply retreated,
backing away until Touré was in the penalty area and
choosing where to put his shot. Johnson looked what he
was: a Championship or League One defender trying to
stop the most formidable attack in the land.
Negredo's hat-trick, taking him to 18 goals in 28
appearances, came early in the second half from another
of those quick, penetrating moves through the
opposition's defence, culminating in David Silva's pass
and another classy finish from the striker's left boot.
Dzeko made it 5-0 when he stabbed in Gaël Clichy's cross
and the same player finished the rout with a handsome
left-foot shot from the substitute Aleksandar Kolarov's
"We want our West Ham back," went the cry from the away
Capital One Cup Semi Final
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Clichy,
Lescott, Kompany, Garcia, Yaya Toure (Demichelis 66),
Nasri, Silva (Lopes 73), Negredo (Kolarov 79), Dzeko
Unused subs: Hart, Nastasic, Fernandinho, Milner
West Ham United: Adrian, McCartney, Maiga (C Cole
46), O'Brien (Rat 75), Johnson, Diame, Demel, Noble (Diarra
57), Taylor, J Cole, Downing
Unused subs: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, Collison,
Blackburn Rovers 1
Manchester City 1 It's Not All Rover
Saturday 4th January 2014 : GYKO
at Ewood Park
No one ever expects an FA Cup upset, otherwise it would
hardly count as an upset, and you could tell from a
sparsely populated Blackburn end that home hopes were
not high. Manchester City, by contrast, packed out the
Darwen End with 7,000 fans, with rumours of even more
turning up ticketless just to visit the town centre. Up
until half-time it seemed Blackburn central might be the
better bet for excitement. Then, as if by magic, a
full-blown Cup tie appeared, complete with City going
down to 10 men for the last few minutes and hanging on
desperately for a draw as DJ Campbell and Tom Cairney
went close to grabbing a late winner.
The killer blow eluded Blackburn, though it was not for
the want of trying. Or scoring opportunities. At the end
Manuel Pellegrini looked as if his first exposure to the
reckless romance of the Cup had aged him by a decade or
"We are not out of the FA Cup so I am not too
disappointed," the City manager said. He declined to
blame his goalkeeper for the rather obvious mistake that
allowed Blackburn to level the scores, arguing it was a
team matter rather than Costel Pantilimon's fault. You
could see where he was coming from, even after Scott
Dann's goal City had over half an hour to get back in
front, yet had Pantilimon simply caught the ball, or had
Pellegrini stuck with the back-in-form Joe Hart, a
replay might have been avoided and his players might now
be looking forward to a warm-weather break in Abu Dhabi
rather than an extra game in January. "An extra match is
not an extra problem," Pellegrini said, more than a
little grumpily. "Everyone wants to win all their games
but today we played against a very strong team."
City were unrecognisably lethargic in the first half,
even allowing for Yaya Touré being given another rest,
misplacing passes, squandering opportunities and
generally looking stumped for ideas on how to break down
Blackburn's well-organised defence. Blackburn
occasionally managed to look the more enterprising of
the two sides before City took the lead on the stroke of
half-time, with Rudy Gestede in particular unlucky not
to get on the end of a good run and cross from Ben
Marshall. Despite having both Alvaro Negredo and Edin
Dzeko to aim for, City spent the first half finding
neither. Only David Silva and Fernandinho were getting
forward with any purpose, and when the former skied a
decent chance from 10 yards on the half-hour it began to
look as though City might be having one of their
off-days. That perception changed when they took the
lead from a set piece in the last minute of the first
half, Edin Dzeko heading on Silva's corner to leave
Negredo a simple far post tap-in.
There was a suggestion of offside, though the flag
stayed down and rather to their supporters' surprise,
City turned round in front. Any suggestion of job done,
however, was dispelled after nine minutes of the second
half when Pantilimon's error from a Blackburn corner
invited the home side back into the game. The goalkeeper
appeared to have Gestede's firm header covered but let
the ball bounce back off him, allowing Dann the game's
second straightforward tap-in from a position almost
identical to where Negredo had scored.
Understandably that boosted Rovers' confidence and City
had to survive a rocky spell midway through the second
half, with Chris Taylor going close, Dedryck Boyata
going into the book and Pellegrini deciding Touré might
be needed on the pitch after all. Paul Robinson, back in
the Blackburn goal after more than a year out with
complications following back surgery, made a diving save
from Dzeko and saw Negredo head the rebound wide, before
getting down low to his right to keep out a shot from
Boyata followed up his foul on Josh King with an even
dozier swipe at Campbell to leave Michael Oliver no
choice but to produce a red card to make the last eight
minutes even more interesting. City made it to the end,
but this was a day for Blackburn, whose defenders left
the field at half-time arguing among themselves over who
was at fault for letting the visitors on to the
scoresheet, to show they are well on the road to
Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Henley, Spurr, Lowe,
Dann, Hanley, Cairney, Taylor, Gestede (Rhodes 81),
Williamson (King 64), Marshall (Campbell 81) Unused
subs: Kilgallon, Rochina, Judge, Eastwood
Manchester City: Pantilimon, Boyata, Lescott,
Nastasic, Clichy, Milner, Fernandinho (Yaya Toure 64),
Garcia, Silva (Zabaleta 88), Negredo (Navas 74), Dzeko
Unused subs: Hart, Kompany, Kolarov, Lopes
Bookings: Nastasic, Boyata (sent-off)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Swansea City 2
Manchester City 3
Wednesday 1st January 2014 : Dai
Bowen for GYKO at the Liberty Stadium
The Manchester City juggernaut rolls on. Another three
goals and another three points for Manuel Pellegrini's
team, who survived a late scare to rack up a fifth
straight Premier League win to strengthen their title
challenge on a wet and blustery afternoon in south
It was the first time that City have won back-to-back
away games in the league under Pellegrini and, although
the excellent Wilfried Bony's second goal of the
afternoon, in the 91st minute, led to an anxious final
few moments for the visitors, the result was never
really in doubt.
City, who have now scored a remarkable 57 goals in 20
Premier League matches this season, are playing with the
confidence of a team who believe they will score
whenever they set foot on the pitch. It says everything
about the depth of the goal-scoring potential in
Pellegrini's team that, on a day when Sergio Agüero,
their prolific striker, was again absent through injury,
Älvaro Negredo was substituted and Edin Dzeko frustrated
in his attempts to add to his record, City still scored
three times away from home.
Fernandinho, who waited until the middle of December to
register his first for City, has now scored three in his
last five matches; Yaya Touré took his Premier League
tally for the season into double figures to restore the
visitors' lead, after Bony had equalised for Swansea on
the stroke of half-time; and Aleksandar Kolarov provided
the gloss with a superb individual effort.
It was the sort of game that Manchester City might have
lost away from home earlier in the season, when they
were defeated 3-2 by Cardiff City and Aston Villa in
August and September, but there is greater resilience
about Pellegrini's team now.
The manager insisted that nothing has changed in terms
of the way City are approaching matches on the road but
instead suggested that his team are benefiting from no
longer committing the sort of defensive errors that
Cardiff and Villa took great pleasure in punishing.
"It's very important, that character [we showed today],
because at the beginning of the season we dropped too
many points away," Pellegrini said.
"I think it's not good for this team to win just 11
points out of 27 [from the away games] we played in the
first half of the season. Winning here, the first game
away [of the year], is very important for us.
"I think the key [to better away form] was to continue
playing exactly the same way we did at the beginning. We
didn't lose the games against Cardiff and Aston Villa
because we didn't play well; we made a lot of mistakes
and conceded easy goals."
Michael Laudrup had no complaints about the result but
the Swansea manager was understandably bitterly
disappointed with the first and third goals his team
conceded. The opener came about after Samir Nasri's
corner bounced off Jonathan de Guzmán and ran through to
the edge of the penalty area, from where Fernandinho,
completely unmarked, lashed a low shot into the net.
Swansea, to their credit, never allowed the visitors to
take a stranglehold on the match and equalised through
Bony in first-half injury-time. Having twice drilled
narrowly wide of Joe Hart's far post, Bony found his
range with a well directed – albeit marginally offside –
header from De Guzmán's cross.
Buoyed by that goal, Swansea started the second half
with renewed belief but were behind again when Touré
thrashed an angled drive beyond Gerhard Tremmel via a
deflection off the sole of Ashley Williams's right boot.
Within eight minutes City had a third. Kolarov
dispossessed Wayne Routledge close to the touchline and
ran from inside his own half to the edge of the Swansea
penalty area without being challenged. After stepping
inside Chico Flores's half-hearted attempt to stop him,
the left-back hit a right-footed shot that brushed off
José Cañas en route to the back of the net.
Hart, coming off his line for a corner he had no chance
of getting, almost handed Williams a goal in the 73rd
minute before Bony got his and Swansea's second with a
30-yard raking drive in injury-time.
The two goals were no more than the Ivorian deserved.
"It was by far the best performance from Bony while he
was a Swansea player," Laudrup said. "That's the way we
want to see him. If he can do it against [Vincent]
Kompany and [Matija] Nastasic, he can do it against
Swansea City: Tremmel, Rangel, Davies, Cañas, Chico,
Williams, Hernández (Lamah 10), De Guzmán, Bony, Shelvey
(Pozuelo 81), Routledge Unused subs: Amat,
Taylor, Tiendalli, Alvaro, Zabret
Bookings: Canas, Shelvey
Manchester City: Hart,
Zabaleta, Kolarov, Nastasic, Kompany, Fernandinho, Yaya
Toure, Nasri (Milner 70), Navas (Rodwell 90), Dzeko,
Negredo (Garcia 60)
Unused subs: Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Boyata
Bookings: Dzeko, Nasri, Milner, Kompany,
Referee: Phil Dowd