Okay, let's talk about the elephant in the room here. The officiating today was really poor and the disallowed goal served as something of a snowball. After that goal, which in my eyes should have been allowed, the ref was afraid to make the necessary call (e.g.), so as not to incense the crowd further. You don’t have to look any further than Yanga-Mbiwa's challenge that knocked Nasri out of the game for a clear example. Beyond that, there were a number of other instances where cards would have been given but weren't; so, not the best day for the officials.
Back to the foul on Nasri; at first glance it looked to a late awkward tackle, and an easily card-able offense. But on replay, you see Yanga-Mbiwa hit Nasri in the knee not once, but twice, the second being the hardest. It was a terrible challenge and an equally bad decision by Mike Jones to only give a yellow. Very disappointing, but let's get to the action now that that's out of the way.
Dzeko got the game off to an exciting start, as some beautiful built up play started by, you guessed it, David Silva, put Dzeko in position to score. Silva found Kolarov making a run down the wing and Kolarov who has been nothing short of immense this season, bulleted a low ball that found the foot of Dzeko. Dzeko didn’t miss and redirected it in to make it 1-0. As we seem to do after getting the go ahead goal on the road though, we fell into something of a rut after the score and allowed Newcastle to take the game to us. Although it was really the pressure the magpies put us under that caused the sloppy play, we were clearly less aggressive as well.
Newcastle came out in the second half just as aggressively as they had in the first. With their play, they looked certain to grab an equalizer. But thanks to some timely defending, and great saves from Joe Hart we were able to save the win for City. Against the run of play, Negredo eased my heart, as a long ball found him making a run down the middle. The initial shot was saved, but it bounced into the chest of the Spaniard and he walked it in. It was a fitting ending to a very sloppy game.
Newcastle deserved better from this game, but I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it. I've said it before and I'll say I’ll say it again; an ugly win may be tough to watch, but they'll be the most rewarding if we win the league. This game was another test of our character, and team chemistry. With all the sloppiness, it would have been easy to get on one another and forget the goal, which is to win. But staying true to the recent trend of this season, City weathered the storm and found a way to capture three points from a tough team on the road. It can go unnoticed by some, but our character (as I mentioned above) has been a delight to watch this season. Last season you would fear the worst in a game like this, but this team has a great feel for one another. I cautiously can’t wait to see us pull off close victories. Of course, I wouldn’t mind not having to watch a game like today’s ;).
Let's hope Nasri's injury isn't too serious, but I think that may be wishful thinking. Such a shame given the form he has been in this season. And, props to Pardew for apologizing for his shouting at Pellegrini; he could have easily stirred it up more in the post game interview.
It was a toss up for me but who was your man of the match, Blues? (BTW, I was totally tempted to use the photo of the streaker for this post. Bad decision or good one?)
Dzeko (7) – Taken out early for strategic purposes, but he was definitely in his top form during this game. He controlled the ball well at the top of the formation and he certainly deserved that goal.
Negredo (7) – He’d make one hell of a (NFL) football player, and that strength causes so many issues in the box and in attack. He was a "beast" again, and his goal was the icing on the cake.
Silva (7) – His vision is incredible, and that pass to Kolarov to set up Dzeko's goal was a fine example of that. He's such a treat to watch.
Nasri (6) – Couldn’t get into the game like he has in games prior to this one, the pressure got to him. When he got the ball, he would lose possession before he could do anything. Hope he isn’t too hurt.
Yaya (5) – Not his best performance by any means, he just looked uncomfortable all game and the injury didn’t help. It was clear that the injury was on his mind during the game.
Fernandinho (6)– His work rate is incredible, and he can help the team no matter where he is. Today was not his best though as he lost possession multiple times in midfield.
Kolarov (8) – Such a threat to the left side of any teams defense. And lest we forget, he put his body on the line with that block.
Kompany (8 MotM) – As solid as Demichelis was, Vinny was just a little bit better. He helped Pablo when he looked to be beaten, won the ball in the air, in the box, all game. Great defensive effort.
Demichelis (8) – Back in style. Read the game well, as he always does, and won key aerial battles in the later stages of the game. He and Kompany were fantastic at the back.
Zabaleta (6) - Didn't see him in attacking positions like we are use too. Got beat a couple of times when he was 1 v 1, which comes as a surprise as Pablo is usually so sound defensively.
Hart (8) - Made the vital saves, but did goof on some clearances. If that goal had counted there was certainly nothing he could have done about it.
Navas (6) - Got into the box on multiple occasions he just couldn't find the right pass.
Garcia (6) - Solid defensive work again.
Milner (6) – He always finds his himself in a position to either score, or assist. Great weapon, like Navas, to have at your disposal when teams tire.