[Match Preview] - [Game Thread]
Against Spurs in Week One, it seemed as if Manchester City might not score all season. Passes from the midfield to striker Carlos Tevez were consistently frustrated, and they left empty handed. Today, this was not the case. City took the match straight to Liverpool and with Sheik Mansour in attendance, didn't have any problem dispatching the men from Anfield.
There were a couple of changes to this week's squad, most notably James Milner and Adam Johnson in for Shaun Wright-Phillips and David Silva. Early on (and through the entire match, really), Johnson was at his crafty best. AJ made run after run at Liverpool fullback Daniel Agger, who was clearly overmatched. Johnson let loose a screaming shot that saw Pepe Reina beaten, but it was wide of the left post by just inches. Milner proved to be, at least for this match, as advertised. His work ethic was second to none, and he consistently tracked back on defense while proving entirely too much for fellow England international Glen Johnson.
In the 13th minute, the Reds' defense gave way. Yaya Toure played a nice one-two with Johnson who slipped the ball in between two defenders for James Milner. Milner entered the box unmarked, and sent an accurate pass to an equally unmarked Gareth Barry, who merely needed to redirect the ball past Pepe Reina. It was the first bit of beautiful football we'd seen from City this year, and the rout was on.
From that point until the halftime whistle, the Blues were able to play keepaway. The ball pinged back and forth across the pitch between Barry, Y. Toure, and Nigel de Jong; and a Mascherano-less Liverpool were unable to get any sort of hold on the match.
The second goal was made of more simple stuff. Milner earned the corner and took it himself, his service reaching the head of Micah Richards. Richards headed the ball on goal, and in all honesty, it was going in the net anyway when Carlos Tevez made the slightest of touches to put it past Reina in the 52d minute.
Shortly after, Liverpool had what would prove to be their only real scoring chance of the game. Steven Gerrard sent a powerful shot on goal which bounced off the post and then off City keeper Joe Hart. The rebound was found by David N'gog, whose subsequent volley was brilliantly kept out by Hart. Hart then turned away the final shot in the sequence from Fernando Torres with a fantastic left handed reflex save.
Though ball possession was tilted back to more even scales as the game wore on, Adam Johnson would earn a penalty on a tricky run past Agger. Martin Skrtel was forced to compensate for Agger's mistake, and in doing so brought Johnson down heavily inside the area. Carlos Tevez sent Reina the wrong way with his penalty kick, and that was that.
It was, in short, a fantastic evening for Manchester City. They defended well, attacked well, and connected their passes with surprising ease. While you certainly shouldn't expect every game to go as well as tonight's, it was an encouraging sign for a team that was supposed to be made of mercenaries who would take months to gel. Time, obviously, will tell - for now, though, City sit near the top of the table with a trip to Sunderland awaiting in Week Three.