City progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in style with a 5 – 0 win over a really very impressive Blackburn team. Watford await following a second half goal fest. Here are a few thoughts from the game…
Ahh, yes, that’s just the 99 goals so far this season then. On the evidence of the first half a bet on a 5 – 0 scoreline looked to be money down the drain. It was one of the worst halves of football played in front of the Etihad crowd for a fair while. A bad half is not disastrous in itself but when the pain is almost entirely self inflicted then it can become rather trying. Passes were misplaced, shots were blasted into unfeasibly high parts of the stadium, and the body language of the struggling players was discouraging. The biggest miss was, predictably, City’s outstanding trio of Silva, Nasri and Toure. Without the strange, football attracting gravity well those three create in between the opposition midfield and defence the team looked somewhat neutered when on the way to Paul Robinson’s goal, as if the players on the pitch weren’t entirely sure who should be starting an attack.
No player better sums up the dichotomy between the two halves than our old friend Edin Dzeko. Bad Dzeko was front and centre for the first 45 minutes, missing the goal many times in outrageous fashion and generally offering little to the team. Thankfully, Good Dzeko came out to play in the second half and bagged another two goals in the midst of the kind of all action display he has been putting in since New Year’s Day. Lee Dixon joked at full time that it was nice of Dzeko’s brother to come out and play in the second half, which nicely sums it up.
Navas and Milner both had yet another excellent game and proved once more why having two wingers who can cross the ball as well as they can is a very good idea. Navas in particular has a the ability to play the most perfectly accurate crosses you could ever ask for. It is as if modern defenders are used to the ball being crossed first time, so when Navas takes that half second to pick out his mark the defenders are put off for the moment it takes him to put it on someone’s head or directly into their path. The wings are becoming a happy place for City. It would be remiss to neglect Kolarov here who provided the kind of assist for Negredo’s second goal that makes you happy to be alive. Vision, intelligence, and precision, all in one neat ball. What else do you need?
Sergio, it is wonderful to have you back. Please never leave us again.
His comrades have been putting on quite the show in recent weeks but there is no one else like him. Negredo and Dzeko are in superb goalscoring form, bagging two more each this evening, but we still need Aguero. The roar that accompanied his first appearance in about a month was truly heart warming. It wasn’t really a surprise to see him score with only his second touch of the ball. Because of course he did!
They were excellent for the entire game. It is always tempting to just concentrate on your own team, especially when they scored another five goals, but that would be doing a disservice to a Blackburn side who passed the ball with purpose and attacked with intent, time and time again. Even when 5 – 0 down Gary Bowyer and his Blackburn side didn’t give up on the game and continued to attack a weakened City defence. Every player knew his role and carried it out admirably, yet they were not afraid to experiment and adapt. Cairney in particular looked a very good, inventive player and is worth keeping an eye on.
Many teams have come to the Etihad this season and done nothing more than wet their pants and give up. Blackburn were not one of them. The recent past has been shambolic for them, but the future looks like it might not be quite as grim.
The Fourth Round is on the way and City have a busy few months full of exciting games ahead. It is hard to believe we are only half way through January.
Written by Alex Timperley