City 1-0 Wigan

Alex Livesey

Three more points but far from a convincing performance.

If this was to be an FA Cup final dress rehearsal then Roberto Mancini will be hastily ordering his squad for some last minute additional learning of their lines after a performance, that save for a moments outstanding from Carlos Tevez, left an awful lot to be desired.

True, the exertions from Sunday and a host of changes (half the side from Sunday's win over Chelsea was changed) may well have impacted on City's display but after the recent upswing in terms of performances this was a stark reminder of the way in which the side have stuttered for too much of this season.

It was as low key an opening too a game that can be remembered at The Etihad Stadium, the flat nature on the pitch seemingly matched in the stands as City opened in sluggish fashion, with the pace, movement and fluidity witnessed against Chelsea sorely missing. The only incidents of note in the opening half hour being a stream of speculative attempts from distance courtesy of the left foot of Aleksandar Kolarov; none coming remotely close to testing Juan Robles in the Wigan goal.

The game sprang to life on 36 minutes when Joe Hart saved smartly after Franco di Santo was presented with a clear shot at goal from inside the box and then Sergio Aguero - lacking Sunday's spark - failed by the narrowest of margins to convert Carlos Tevez's cross.

Chastened by his sides performance, Roberto Mancini introduced Edin Dzeko for Aguero and switched to a back three, but with the break spurring Wigan on this was soon abandoned as James Milner came on for Javi Garcia and a back four was reintroduced. There was now a greater urgency about City's play and after managing just six shots (with none on target) they were facing the prospect of being shut out for the first time in two and a years at The Etihad.

City went more direct with Yaya Toure appearing to have had the shackles removed and as the shot count evened up City piled on more pressure as Wigan retreated, perhaps content with the prospect of a vital point to aid their hopes of avoiding relegation. In fact, Wigan may have snatched the lead late when Paul Scharner's header came back off the bar after Joe Hart had misjudged a cross, but the assistant referees flag would have ruled out any goal.

It was then left to Tevez to settle the game, when after taking a pass from Kolarov, his quick feet took him past the defence and he unleashed a dipping shot past Juan Robles in the Wigan goal to win the points. There was time yet for Tevez to attempt to increase the margin further, but his late free kick failed to test Robles.

Although lack a cutting edge this evening it was a spirited display from Wigan, and they will take heart from the performance over the remainder of the season with the duo of Shaun Maloney and Arouna Kone in particular providing moments of quality throughout the game. What it did show is that any early thoughts that the FA Cup final may not quite be the foregone conclusion many thought it would be.

Three more points it may have been but tonight would sharpened Mancini's mind more than he may have anticipated.

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