Sunday, 26 February 2012

Manchester City v Blackburn Rovers: Post-match thoughts

Have you ever witnessed a more one sided game in all your life? I don't think I have in my reasonably short 27 years of it. For around 70 minutes of the game, City had about 86% of possession. It ended with 78% possession, 28 attempts on goal.

City barely had to get out of second gear as Blackburn came with the sole intention of limiting the number of goals City scored. Yakubu cut a lonely figure as the ball was often hoofed in his direction with either Kompany or Lescott waiting to take it back from him.

If there is one negative to take away from the game, it's that despite having 28 shots on goal, only 9 were actually on target. Mancini will no doubt be unhappy with this despite the overall performance. In tougher games, less than a 30% hit rate could cost  City.

The shots that City did have on target (apart from the goals) generally brought pretty good saves out of Paul Robinson, who is said to be reconsidering his international retirement. I'm not entirely sure why though, as he still wont be playing ahead of Joe Hart.

Robinson had to make a fine save very early in the game with barely a minute gone. Silva put through Johnson making a run on the wing who then whipped in a low cross which found. Balotelli. Mario's first time shot towards the bottom corner was parried away though.

Silva was causing all sorts of problems on the edge of the box, keeping the ball close to him, waiting for a teammate to make a run, and almost always finding them.

Zabaleta and Kolarov were chosen as the full-backs for this game and they both played admirably, with Aleks getting man of the match. Both provided the width that was required to get behind the Blackburn defence out wide and each put in a number of good crosses.

It was once again Silva who played the ball into space for one of the full-backs in the 30th minute, this time Kolarov. The cross was driven into low into the box and once again found Balotelli who had drifted into space between defenders. Mario struck the ball across the keeper who could only watch it fly past him into the back of the net.

Balotelli unveiled another message on his under armour, declaring his love for his girlfriend, Raffaella Fico. He had learnt his lesson though and only lifted the shirt high enough to see the message instead of pulling it over his head, avoiding an unnecessary booking.

Kompany nearly made it 2-0 6 minutes later when a corner came towards the near post. Vinnie peeled away from his marker, and in a move not dissimilar to Mancini's famous back-heeled goal during his playing days, clipped the ball towards goal. Once again, Robinson was equal to it and Yaya put the rebound wide of the goal.

City came close again seconds before half time. Balotelli hit a 40 yard pass with the outside of his right boot which Aguero had to chase. And despite having 2 defenders around him and receiving a push in the back, Aguero's tenacity got him to the ball before either of them. It was unlucky that his shot across goal went wide of the target.

Sergio made it 2-0 just 6 minutes into the 2nd half after another City corner. Robinson parried away the initial ball into the box, but it fell right in front of Aguero who fired it into the net.

Dzeko came on for Balotelli on 79 minutes and managed to get himself on the score sheet after only 2 minutes on the pitch. Kolarov again the provider after collecting the ball from substitute Pizarro, crossed the ball into the box and into the path of an oncoming Dzeko. His header powered low to the ground and beat Robinson with ease.

Joe Hart was required just the once in time added on. Yakubu hit a tame shot from outside the 18 yard box to mark Blackburn's only shot on target in 94 minutes of football. Hart easily collected it down at his left.

It has to be mentioned that Yaya was magnificent. With Blackburn rarely attacking, Yaya was able to pass the ball almost at will, completing 101 of his 103 passes. He hit several long range passes that found the target with pin-point accuracy, one of his outstanding qualities as a player. And when he did stride forward, Blackburn simply didn't know what to do. It is hoped that the injury that saw him limp off the pitch 5 minutes from the end isn't serious.

Balotelli also has a great game, showing fantastic attitude throughout. Pizarro looks like he's been with City for years, such is his quality of passing and ability to read the game as though he's looking at it from above. I'm certainly wanting to see more of him before the season ends as he looks a quality signing.

With Tevez returning to training, many fans will no doubt be pleased that Aguero, Balotelli and Dzeko are all back in scoring form and looking likely to keep Tevez out of contention of even an appearance on the bench. It wouldn't surprise me if after all that has happened Mancini isn't happy for the same reasons, if only behind closed doors.

Twitter: @MikeWalshMCFC or @mcfcDSLeftFoot
Facebook: David Silva's Left Foot

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