Thursday, 22 December 2011

Manchester City v Stoke City: Post Match

That could be the easiest 3 points earned by any team at any point this season. Stoke seemingly arrived at the Etihad with only one plan; not to get smashed. They certainly didn't want to have a go at City's back 4 and in the first half they rarely managed to get the ball out of their own half. I'm not sure whether or not 3-0 is getting smashed either by City's recent standards.

As predicted, Mancini was set to give Dzeko a starting role but an ankle injury before the game put an end to that. Lescott did return at the centre of defence though, and Adam Johnson also got a rare start.

The first 45 minutes may as well have been a training match of attack vs defence. Stoke's lineup started as 4-4-2 but ended up more like 6-3-1 for the vast majority of the half as City passed the ball pretty much at will, looking for an opening in the tightly packed Stoke defence.

It was Adam Johnson who got the first meaningful shot. Cutting in from the right at the edge of the area there was only ever one thing on his mind but his curling shot ricocheted off the woodwork.

Tony Pulis was constantly barking orders at his players from the first whistle, but whatever he was trying to convey helped very little, if at all as the entire half was all about City. Even when Stoke managed to get the ball out of their own half it was picked up by either Kompany or Lescott without much trouble.

After 15 minutes the possession stats flashed up 65-35 in the Blues' favour, and it didn't get any better for Stoke. Nasri and Toure went wide with shots of their own around the 20 minute mark as City continued to completely dominate the play.

The first goal came just before 30 minutes after a nice bit of play between Silva and Nasri out on the left wing. Silva found Yaya with a cutting ball into the box with the Ivorian hitting a shot/pass across the box met initially by Kompany, parried by Sorensen, tapped home by Aguero. A brilliantly worked goal.

City didn't have to wait too long for the next goal either, and what a goal it was! The home crowd were still thinking they should have had a penalty when Silva was blatantly pushed in the area and Stoke were looking to get the ball back out. They did get it out, only to the top of the 18 yard box before City had the ball again. Adam Johnson found himself in plenty of space and struck a beautifully driven shot from around 30 yards that rocketed into the bottom left of the goal. 36 Minutes, 2-0, absolutely nothing for Joe Hart to break a sweat over.

That's how it continued in the second half although Stoke put up a bit more of a fight. I say a bit, and I mean a bit. In fact Stoke were lucky that City appeared to be taking it easy knowing the number of games they will be playing in a short space of time.

Stoke conceded a third less than 10 minutes into the second half in a way that merged the first 2 goals together. Stoke were pinned back and managed to clear the ball from their own area but only by a couple of yards before Toure and Barry stole the ball back for City. Nasri received the ball off Barry and hit a low cross across the goal which was met once again by Aguero who tapped the ball home.

Much of the second half was City asking Stoke "go on then have a go" and then taking the ball off them and knocking it about for a while in no real rush to extend their lead. Not to sound cruel on Stoke, but they had absolutely no idea either in defence or attack and very rarely managed to keep the ball for a reasonable length of time. It's not often that stats give you the full story in a game, but these few really do;

Man City: 76% - 24% :Stoke City
Man City: 937 - 292 :Stoke City
Pass %
Manc Cit: 91% - 72% :Stoke City
Shots on Target
Man City: 11 - 0 :Stoke City
Shots off Target
Man City: 3 - 3 :Stoke City
Shots Blocked
Man City: 8-0 :Stoke City

After the electric pace of their game against Arsenal, City were quite content in taking it a little easier, keeping the ball and making Stoke do all the running. Stoke managed 3 shots in the whole of the 90 minutes, and not one of them was on target. Joe Hart may as well have sat in the stands for all the work he needed to do.

Another 3 points, Manchester City sat at the top of the tree at Christmas for the first time in Premier League history, and the first time since 1929. Just another tick in the Club's record breaking season so far.

Merry Christmas and here's to a happy Blue year

Twitter: @MikeWalsh1880
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

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