Part the First: That's more Like It Can anybody out there amongst the best damn commenters in all of internet soccer blogs (you're welcome) pick something that went wrong? We just went into the house of the #2 team in the Prem and quadrupled their goals given up in said home. We also took over second place.
We did it because Sergio Aguero is the best player in the Prem--two assists, would have had a goal in the 2nd half and should've had a goal in the second half (really, Sergio? Just shoot it by him next time). There is no one I'd rather have on my squad right now that Sergio Aguero. It's not just his team, people. It's his league.
We did it because Yaya Toure did the kinds of things we've been seeing for years now (and yes, that unfortunate giveaway is one of those things): dominating the midfield, physically imposing himself on the biggest damn team in the league (seriously, Southampton would win a rugby scrum in a walk against anybody)... it was good to see.
We did it because in spite of obstacles, such as Mike Brown's eyesight (more on that later), Mangala getting sent off (all we did was score twice afterward) and showing enormous heart in a tough road game just days removed from beating Bayern Munich.
We did it because for the first time in awhile, we got strong performances from everybody. I'm having a helluva time figuring out who played poorly. Mangala is getting the most online barbs but I thought his second yellow was a pretty smart foul, all things considered--it probably saved a 1-0 lead and frankly, his effort and energy were strong (if not his positioning) before getting sent off. Clichy was terrific, Nasri was terrific, Navas was terrific, Milner was only okay until his outstanding play leading to Lampard's goal... I mean, it's matches like this that make City fans believe they can beat anybody at any time.
Part the Second: The One Downside
Vincent Kompany limped off. Next to Sergio, there is no greater injury scare to City fans.
Part the Third: Not Mike Brown's Fault It's time to beat my favorite drum--replay in soccer (hey, I'm American and we call it soccer). I made this argument often two years back but felt like Peter Finch in Network only without the popular rising. In my own household, my wife said my need for replay was very much "an American need to fix everything" and she cited the fifteen replays we see after virtually every NFL play (I might be exaggerating but not by much). And then today happened, when everybody in the universe who had eyes on the play, including the guy who fouled him, saw Sergio Aguero get hacked in the box for a penalty in minute 10. Everybody, that is, except referee Mike Brown.
And it's not Brown's fault. Because he only saw part of the play.
Brown was trailing the action and if you look at him close, you'll he leans to his right to get a better look at what happened after Sergio had already fallen. He's doing that because he didn't see the contact clearly (though we all saw it clear as daylight on the replay--more on that soon) so he did what a lot of referee's do--he made a logical assumption. Sergio Aguero threw his hands in the air and seemed to flop to the ground. It looked for all the world like a dive to Mr. Brown and if he knew Aguero better, he'd know that Sergio never dives; never has, never will. There are those of us on the staff of B&B (okay, me) who wished he would dive more, if no other reasons that it could improve his health and result in more goals but I respect his choice not to do it. His good friend Messi doesn't do it, either. More power to him. And he didn't dive against Southampton but I understand why Jones thought as much.
The result was doubly bad for City. Instead of a PK and yellow for the defender, Aguero got a yellow for simulation. You can't blow a call worse than that--giving a yellow to City's best player when he did literally nothing wrong. But it happened and it will continue to happen as long as:
- Our sport continues to use only one ref on the pitch to make these calls and, more importantly...
- Our sport continues to ignore the use of replay.