Postmatch Thoughts: Man City v Hull City

Paul Thomas

This is the kind of match that swings a title. It felt like the kind of game that we won two seasons ago, and exactly the kind of game we didn't win last season. It feels like the difference between challenging for a title and just staying in the top four. For me, it makes sense to break it down by the key factors.

1. City lineup. Pellegrini seems to have adapted to the style that is often times needed when playing on the road in the Premier League. Early on in the season, some of our lineups felt a little naive, like he wasn't too worried about the threat from a smaller side. We paid for that against Cardiff and others, where we went very attacking, without a strong midfield shield. By playing Yaya, Fernandinho, and Javier Garcia together, there was a clear intent to dominate possession in the middle of the field. Additionally, this allowed for more flexibility in substitutions, especially after Kompany's dismissal.

2. Kompany's red card. Fact of the matter is that Kompany committed a foul as the last defender, and denied a goal-scoring opportunity. Clear red card, and a sending off. Now he has a very strong case that he was fouled first, and the play should have been whistled dead. Regardless, you know that Jelavic is going to go to ground if you touch him there. Kompany can't be pulling on him, even if the ref missed the initial call. He should have gotten back to his feet, and then beaten him to block before he could shoot. Jelavic is not Eden Hazard. He's not going to speed away from you. The ref missed the initial call, but the card was correct. Hopefully an appeal can remove the additional one match ban.

3. David Silva. For all of his passing brilliance, David Silva is often criticized for two things: not scoring more, and not tracking back consistently. As we've seen from him, he can be an amazing finisher of the ball. I think that it mostly comes down to what he is asked to do. This season, he is shooting much less, but scoring at a higher rate, mostly from good positions. If he were playing centrally behind a striker, instead of on the wing, I think he would get to double digits in the league. He's at 6 for the season, with another in the Champion's League. His goal today was stupendous. Any player would have been ecstatic with it, not just him.

On top of that, he was tremendous in defence. Gael Clichy was under some pressure early on from the Hull right wingers, but Silva adapted to provide a good partner. He won the ball back several times, and then helped to retain it back up field. This might have been his best game as a City player, especially being down a man.

4. Offside trap. In what seems like a first, the offside trap worked consistently for the whole game. At one point, it seemed as though it would be easier for the linesman to have a different flag to tell Hull when they were actually onside. All the more remarkable is the fact that Javi Garcia played for 50 minutes at center back. He and Demichelis consistently made the right decisions in when to step up, and did so in unison. The two of them seemed to have a better understanding than Demichelis and Kompany, who were caught out a few times before the red card.

5. Dzeko. He's taken some serious heat this season for his lack of goals. His score today ended a 10 hour run without a goal. I know that he's been off his game lately, but I still have such a soft spot for him. Dzeko seems to fit better in Pellegrini's system than he did under Roberto Mancini. He is at his best on the counter-attack, as seen by his two good chances today. His final goal was set up by a world-class pass from Silva, but he made the correct run, and took his finish calmly.

All in all, this was a great win for City, and hopefully one that springboards the team forward onto a good run of form.

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