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Sunderland 0 City 3

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Lost in the midst of the madness of the past 24 hours was the fact that we picked up a great 3-0 victory away at Sunderland that saw us climb (albeit it this early stage) to third in the table - something I called pretty well my Observer preview.

MOTD2 highlights for me with this one, and from them it looked like Sunderland probably shaded the first half, but without creating any clear cut chances, yet thanks to Stephen Ireland we sneaked ahead on the stroke of half-time.

The second half was all about SWP though, who repaid a small slice of his (now pittance like) transfer fee with two smartly taken goals to seal the 3-0 win, and send the travelling fans into SWP-rapture.

What was interesting for me though was the line-up. Shorn of the injured Martin Petrov, Hughes decided on a 4-5-1 formation without Elano, opting for Hamman and Kompany in the holding roles, with a more advanced three of Johnson, Ireland and SWP, who lined in a central looking trio.

All three goals were as a result of players gaining and making space for themselves, and I'm not sure Sunderland quite knew how to deal with them. Chalk one up for Mark Hughes tactically and this formation is definitely one we'll see again throughout the season for sure.

A quick point regarding the refereeing - there were a number of poor decisions, which we mostly benefited from, and it was strange to see a referee so reluctant to give fouls. Richard Dunne definitely profited a couple of times from this, and it is all well and good for the administrators to bleat on about 'Respect' but if a referee turns in an inept performance, this is going to rile players and managers and little wonder we see some of the dissent that is shown.

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Never go back, they say, although make an exception for a detour via Sunderland. Life after Chelsea no longer seems such a daunting proposition for Shaun Wright-Phillips, whose second spell at Manchester City began with two goals and a resounding away victory for his team. >>times online