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Five Thoughts: Newcastle 1-3 Manchester City

The Pretty Offense, the Not-So-Pretty Defense and Injuries that are starting to look Ugly. And a poll.

Take it easy, Carlos. We don't need another injury.
Take it easy, Carlos. We don't need another injury.
Stu Forster

Part the First: I'm a City fan and I know this to be true: I swear this is what I wrote in after the first 9(!) minutes of play:

"Barely 90 seconds in and we see Joe Hart’s Miracle Save du Jour ™. I don’t guarantee much but I guarantee that we will give up a goal in this game and it will be because of an unmarked man OR we didn’t close out/close down a passer/shooter OR we didn’t move our feet"

There would be two more Newcastle chances within the first nine minutes. And yes, we scored in the 10th minute (more on that later) and scored again with Javi Garcia doing one of his "hey, I remember Javi did that earlier in the season" skywalking headers but did you really think we weren't going to give up that goal? And by 'that' I mean the goal we always give up when we decide to... well, just read my notes.

Part the Second: And upon Newcastle's first goal, I wrote this:

"What did I say? What did I freakin’ say? The Ba goal was inevitable; it’s what we do. As dangerous a striker as the EPL has seen in recent years and Ba wasn’t just unmarked; he was totally ignored. Honest to God, it’s beyond parody at this point. We always give up goals we have no business giving up. It’s as if we want to test Joe Hart as much as possible and once the ball goes in the net, we think, "Wow, so I guess if we’re playing in the EPL, it’s not a great idea to just leave guys open." And Cisse moments later gets off a nearly point-blank shot. I thought we could play defense?"

I was prepared to write that our defense, however good it looks statistically, is not nearly as good as it was last season. But I'm wrong. I think there's something else seriously wrong with the defense but more on that later.

Part the Third: Goals Be Pretty

  • First goal: Damn, but YaYa Toure can play some football. If YaYa played his entire career for Man United, he’d have a statue by now. A magnificent pass to Nasri who made a helluva play to set up Aguero. I love YaYa Toure so much, my wife is legitimately concerned.
  • Second goal: Javi Garcia is our best player in the air. Better than Kompany, better than Dzeko, better than anyone we have. That is all.
  • Third Goal: Man, that was crucial. Note that instead of passing around uselessly at the top of the box, the Citizens got deeper in the penalty area, placed the ball where it needed to be place (a.k.a. David Silva's left foot) and, lord, there are few things more terrifying for defenders than David Silva surveying the landscape near goal. It's kind of funny when someone tries to take the ball from him; can't be done without fouling him. Zabaleta made some huge plays during that sequence and my man YaYa was the ultimate beneficiary but Silva was the architect and, for what it's worth, my choice for MOM (with apologies to YaYa and Hart).

Part the Fourth: Who is not hurt? Serious question and I thought I’d try to answer it. If a position is labeled Green then that position is healthy. Yellow means we’ve got some injury issues that could develop into a real problem and Red means we’ve got some injury issues where trouble doesn’t need developing because it’s already here. I’ve also labeled the players ranging from healthy to injured and everything in between. The medical state of the Citizens as I see it:

  • Goalie = Green Joe Hart is healthy but PTSD might be an issue (bada-BING). I don’t know if my heart can take all the big saves he has to make but maybe ‘joe hart’ is stronger than my heart? (bada-BING-BING-BING). I’m here all week.
  • Fullbacks = Red with a capital R. Zabaleta is healthy but not 100% and he is the only fullback who is healthy right now. Let me repeat that: Zabaleta is the only fullback who is healthy. Glichy played but is recovering from an injury, Kolarov was hurt today and not for the first time so we can say he’s battling a recurring injury, Maicon is injured/out indefinitely, Richards is injured and out for a long time.
  • Centerbacks = Yellow but could be worse and that right soon. Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott are healthy. Nastasic I heard was recovering from an injury but I’m open to correction; he played today. Kompany is injured/back soon.
  • Midfielders = Yellow YaYa Toure remains remarkably healthy for a guy who has played every minute of every EPL game. As noted in a previous column, there are others in the league who have played every minute but of those, no one plays as hard as YaYa or with as much responsibility. I don’t know whether to be staggered by YaYa’s remarkable run of health or staggered that Mancini continues to roll the dice with him but staggered I am. David Silva always favors his left ankle when he walks and runs; make it a point to notice. The last time Silva was "oh my God, he’s player of the year" was the first half of last season. I fear we’ll never see that player again so I’m labeling him as battling a chronic injury. Samir Nasri was injured today and it didn’t look good. Javi Garcia is, I think, healthy. He was hurt earlier in the year but I didn’t notice anything affecting his jumping ability today. Milner, Barry and Rodwell are all healthy as far as I know. UPDATE: I've been informed by a friend that Milner and Rodwell are both injured. I think we can call color the midfield light Red.
  • Forwards = Green Tevez, Dzeko and Balotelli are all healthy. I remain concerned about Aguero. No one works harder on the pitch but he’s not the same dangerous guy we saw last season. I thought Aguero was going to score 30 goals this campaign but barring a huge run, that ain’t happening and I don’t know why. It’s not work ethic so I’m going to label him recovering from an injury/not 100%.

For the team as a whole, I’d label them Yellow but leaning toward Red. I think we’ve found our number one concern going forward.

Part the Fifth: Poll: You know what to do.