I'm back!!!! And, I'm glad to see that the great form City had during my absence continued upon my return with a "great" 2-0 win over Fulham.
A game that started out with a bang certainly did not live up to what it could have been. Within two minutes Dzeko threw a shot on goal from outside the box, and the man to clean up the trash was my favorite Spaniard David "El Maestro" Silva. After that early opportunity the game turned into a Fulham Fest, as the Cottagers held much of the possession for the rest of the first half. A strong defensive effort was given by the back four, collectively, and held Fulham to minimal opportunities on goal.
Side note: City continues to struggle effectively clearing the ball when it is being thrown into the box. As good as our back four has been (when healthy) this season, if the clearing struggles continue, we may not be so lucky against in form sides.
Okay, back to the action. Although City's offense struggled to hold possession of the ball in the first half Silva was the lone bright spot in the first half, as well as the whole game. He produced great crosses into the box for Tevez and Dzeko, but nothing came of those chances. Our tactics today were very surprising as we played much of the game on the counter attack. I haven't seen any pictures from the match, but I'd put a lot of money on Joe Hart taking a snooze during the match, most likely while standing in net.
The second half started much like the first half, with Fulham holding much of the possession and City countering when given the opportunity, but City struggled to produce anything creative in the final third throughout the whole match. Tevez worked extremely hard, but as I'd heard, his form has dipped since my departure and that seemed evident today as he threw shots either weakly, or way off target, towards goal. City continued their counter attacking and midway through the second half Silva scored his second goal of the game, beautifully slotting the ball in the lower ninety of the Fulham goal. After that goal City really turned up the pressure, as slightly as possible, giving Silva another great opportunity on goal but pushed it just wide of the same location as his second. Dzeko and Aguero had great opportunities to score, but Dzeko was the more likely to score but couldn't get a shot on net from two yards out. I noticed towards the end of the match, the emphasis City wasn't putting on attack as Nastasic and Kompany were charging up field to, hopefully, score off a rebound.
I am probably the biggest Dzeko naysayer I know, so take my judgment, as you will: he continues to "un-"impress me with his play. I saw, only through highlights on Sky Sports when available, that he played pretty well when given an opportunity, but you come to expect that especially in his role as "super sub." I definitely see his worth when he comes in as a sub, but when he is given the start, I feel like he coasts through the game thinking he is "pacing" himself for the rest of the game. I could be totally wrong, but if you play with that mindset you are taking yourself out of the rhythm of the game and fall victim to the speed of the game. Anyway, I digress.
All in all, City played a style today that mirrors Steve Spurriers "Run ‘N Gun" offense, as we consistently played to counter our opponents after scoring an early goal. It wasn't what we have been use to from our Blues, but given the opponent, it worked effectively enough to get City 3 points, and 4 points back of league leaders Manchester United. I don't usually cheer for Tottenham, but tomorrow afternoon, the Spurs will have quite the support coming from a small town in New Jersey. It feels good to be back stateside and I can't wait to watch, and report on the rest of the season for City. BLUE MOON RISING!
HART (N/A) - I wish I could give him a rating after essentially sitting the entire game in net, but given he only faced three shots; there wasn't much for him to do today. But, he produced his 10th clean sheet of the season, good for Joe.
ZABA (6)- Very strong, as always, defensively as he made strong tackles and clearances when needed. Offensively, he was just as effective, running down the wing in support of Tevez and Dzeko, and almost scored a goal off a Clichy cross, but couldn't control it as the ball rolled out of bounds. Hopefully his injury isn't serious, knowing Pablo he will be back next match
KOMPANY (7)- Steady and strong as the Captain always is in the box. He was in the right place at the right time and did what he has done since joining City from the Bundesliga.
NASTY (6)- Just like Kompany, Nasty was also in the right place at the right time for City today as he cleared balls thrown into the team's box by Fulham.
CLICHY (7)- He has been my favorite back (other than Pablo) since he joined City. He, like Pablo, has been great defensively and offensively and that didn't change in this game. His speed gave Fulham fits today as he provided crosses into the box for teammates. One almost led to a Zabaleta goal, but came with to much pace for the right back to control.
BARRY (5)- A very quiet game today from Barry, but he was strong when needed for City, which was often with the amount of pressure put on by Fulham.
GARCIA (5)- He played a game very similar to Barry, as his name was called only in the utmost pressure. I would like to point out his display of blazing speed in the second half on a break for City. As you can tell, I'm being a bit sarcastic J.
SILVA (8 MotM)- Obvious choice for man of the match, as he scored the two goals for City in the game. He also provided plenty of opportunities for his fellow teammates, either through crosses into the box, or setting up the pass that led to a shot on goal. He kept believe in the team, for the fans and the team as well.
MILNER (5)- He didn't come alive until the second half, but as the game opened up, so did James. Late in the game he a shot at adding to City's total from outside the box, but because it took too long for him to get involved, his shot was well off.
DZEKO (4)- Again, didn't impress me in his chance to start, he was extremely quiet through the first half and when he was given a brilliant chance on goal, he couldn't slot home an easy chance on goal.
TEVEZ (5)- Continues to struggle with his form, as of late, but he continues to hustle regardless of how his performance has been. If it wasn't for his high pressure on the Fulham defense, he probably would have gotten a lower rating, but he still impacted the game more than Dzeko.
NASRI (N/A)- Came on for Pablo midway through the second half, after Zaba came off for an injury. His name was not called, except for once when he had a shot at goal, but the shot was way wide. I chalk that up to him coming back from injury and trust.
AGUERO (5)- Came on for his fellow countrymen late in the second half and had his opportunities to impact the game. He couldn't tuck away his chances on goal, but he looks good, especially coming back from an injury, much like Nasri
LESCOTT (N/A)- Came on in the final minutes for Man of the Match David Silva, again nothing for him to do, so no grade.