A match that was not up to par with our previous ones in terms of fluidity, but how could it be? We showed that no matter how ugly we may be playing, goals are still in the cards. With the injuries piling up for City, it is a testament to our depth that we could be missing such talents as Aguero and Zabaleta, but still get a solid victory.
We went into the locker room at half lucky to be up 2-0, as all statistics were dead even. But, another delicious (yes, I had to use this description) free kick from Yaya found its way off the crossbar, and into the back of the net. The second came from another set piece, where Silva sent a deep ball that found the head of Demichelis. Demichelis headed it back into the middle, where it found Kapain Kompany, who put away his first goal this season. Clichy was given the challenge of switching sides, although he’s played there before, to fill in the right back hole. It was a struggle for him, and understandably so. Early in the first half he was caught on his weaker foot and lost the ball, which almost lead to a Fulham goal. Foreshadowing? I believe so, as five minutes into the second half he slipped, allowing Taarabt to get into space around the box. Taarabt then found Kieran Richardson wide open for an easy goal.
As I mentioned, the game was quite even throughout, particularly after Fulham got on the board early in the second half. City, in “typical City” fashion, gifted Fulham a second in the most bizarre own-goal fashion. Vinnie, trying to clear a cross, had a Bill Buckner like moment as he completely mis-hit the ball. The effort looped over both he and Hart for a goal. I believed we would find an answer, but, pessimist I am, I couldn’t help but feel sick to my stomach at the fact that we have given up another lead. But, thank you Jesus (pronounce how you like, both work), as the Spaniard was subbed on to tighten up the midfield. His pace immediately put the tired Fulham back four under stress. A great pass, like that needs to be said, from Silva found the pacey winger, and he nutmegged the keeper to put City up 3-2. We added another goal, after Negredo authored an absolutely stunning outside foot pass that found the cutting Milner in stride to make it 4-2.
There was some question as to why Pellegrini was putting Navas on for Dzeko, making Negredo the lone striker. Events proved that he was absolutely right. It is easy to say now that it was the right decision but even if it hadn’t had the effect that it did, this was exactly what our game needed. We needed to bolster our midfield and control possession to create build up to our attack. It was just a plus that both of the substitutes scored the goals for City in the second half.
In the end it wasn’t pretty, but a win in the PL is not always pretty. It is the win we needed with a tough test coming up on Boxing Day against Liverpool, a team on the top of their game at the moment. We are (for now) in second place in the PL and with Chelsea and Arsenal matching up on Monday, the title race gets even better. Happy holiday’s everyone!
Negredo (7) – Hasn’t been in the fray so far. But, all he needs is a chance to awaken the beast. It may not have been a goal, but that pass was a delight! Peyton Manning-esque.
Dzeko (6) –He is showing his skill in attack, picking out passes and finding himself in space behind the back four. Couldn’t put away the chances he had, could have been a better day for him.
Silva (8 MotM) – He constantly finds a small amount of space in the midfield, which begins almost all of our attacking moves. Wasn’t his best full 90, but he is still so good even at his most average.
Nasri (7) – Every time he touches the ball near the opposition’s box he looks to take on the defense. His defensive efforts have been above average for him, too.
Fernandinho (7) – He made great runs through the Fulham defense, but teammates couldn’t find the final pass to reward him. He was his typical aggressive self in our defensive third, and most importantly in our own box.
Yaya (8) – Great free kick, and that’s an understatement. He was an important figure in the midfield, and was able to push forward often today.
Clichy (5) – Not his best performance, but understandably poor (if that makes sense). Playing on the opposite side of his usual place, he looked very uncomfortable. Stinks, especially because he had been improving throughout the season.
Kompany (8) – He is always in the right place, at the right time; so important. After scoring his first goal, it was unfortunate for him to mishit his clearance, leading to an own goal.
Demichelis (8) – Great blocking, very comfortable in possession. Quietly our second best defender behind Vinny this season. Another great header in the box to get us a goal.
Kolarov (7) – There is a confidence about him this season that has him at the top of his game. His crossing from the left was absolutely lethal to our opponents. He should get some blame for the OG because it was his man who beat him, but that was his only bad moment today.
Hart (7) – The break has seemed to gave him a kick in man region; great start. Both goals were certainly not on him, especially with that strike from Kompany, yikes.
Navas (6) – His pace completely left the Fulham defense in its wake for his goal. Completely nutmegged the keeper, mostly due to the power put behind it.
Milner (6) – He continues his strong run of form, and was the beneficiary of Negredo’s inch perfect pass. So positive on the wing, such a menace.