Ahhh well. What can you say? It’s not like we hadn’t planned for this. Like heading into a fight with Mike Tyson, you know the outcome, all you can do is give a good account of yourself and hope you don’t get your ear bitten off. Sadly, there was no sucker punch from us, but I tell you what, we put in a spirited performance and gave a fantastic account of ourselves.
I know it’s a bit patronising, but we’re not dealing with any old team here. We’re dealing with a club that can afford to loan out a player they deemed worthy of an £170k a week contract, whilst footing half of the salary that our top earner would be lucky to take home. In fact, they’re so flush, they’ve got a player on £90k a week who can’t even be assed to go on loan. They’re grotesque anomaly in the Premiership, so when our reserves go out and give them a good game, it’s something to be proud off. £35mill versus £119million.
There were some very encouraging individual performances we can talk about. I thought Coquelin looked fantastic on the ball and a menace going forward. He has an amazing ability to adapt to whatever role he is asked to play. He played superbly in the middle of park, popping up with crunching tackles, distributing the ball with a great range of passing. His pass across the face of the box early on found Park who looked certain to score but for a superb reflex save from a keeper whose name wouldn’t look out of place on a bottle next to the Vagisil in Tesco.
Chamberlain did his reputation no harm with a marauding performance out wide. Like Theo, he likes to cut in, but unlike his older team-mate, he has amazing composure on the ball and a footballing brain of a player 5 years older than his young self. Whether he was hitting the wing or cutting inside, he was threatening. He was unlucky the City keeper was in such great form. His rasping first time shot mid first half looked to be edging into the top corner until it was clawed out in spectacular fashion.
The whole team seemed enthused. We were pressing City in the same way Barcelona press teams. It was forcing mistakes and working to great effect in a game that was end to end like a proper old fashioned English cup tie. I think the only result both teams didn’t want yesterday was a draw.
Fabianski took time out to remind us why he’s number two with a tremendous flap for a corner. It’s good that he does that, it reminds you how good our number 1 is.
Nasri was being booed on every touch, he thought he’d been taken off early but the Mancini was actually taking off Kolorov and bringing on Aguerro.
The second half was a bit more of a cagey affair, City finally opened the scoring from the most disappointing of situations. We conceded possession from a corner. Dzeko fed in Johnson, he turned and played in Aguerro… from there, a low driven strike past Fabianski was the only outcome on the card.
Our night was over. The Argentinian superstar had buried us.
That didn’t stop us battling to the end. A late cross into the box at the death was marginally missed by Chamakh. Why haven’t I written much about him and Park? Mostly because they were anonymous. Neither took the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and they sum up quite nicely why bargain basement isn’t always the best way to go. If a striker isn’t on the January sales list… we could find ourselves in a serious bit of bother should Robin not be fit for the rest of the season.
Hopefully we’ll look at the goal record of whoever we buy, we obviously didn’t with those two and oh how it shows. Chamakh is an impressionist, someone trying to impersonate a top class striker, but hideously out their depth… struggling with even the simplest of lay offs. Park, well, I’m not sure what he does. It doesn’t help playing next to someone so bad, but he still didn’t do much for me. He needs to shape up if he wants to be taken seriously as anything other than a marketing ploy.
We lost, but for me, there was no shame in losing a game like that. I’m encouraged City had to bring on their superstars to beat us. I think their sheen is well and truly rubbing off. Hopefully a dip is on the way. They’re not that good.
How we react to this defeat will tell us what we need to know about this season. Wigan away, the place we ballsed things up last season. Let’s see what the character and mental spirit is like this time around!
Fabianski – Didn’t really have too much to do. Quick off his line when needed, flappy by nature from crosses. 6
Koscielny – Super game from the Frenchman. Throws his all into everything. 7.5
JD – Better game from the big Swissman! Looked more composed on the ball, with a bit more confidence. 7
Squillaci – Very solid game from the Frenchman. Slotted in perfectly and gave a good account of himself. 7
Miquel – Was turned early on by Johnson, but grew with the game. Not really sure he’s built for full backery. 6.5
Frimpong – Solid game from our erratic but lovable defensive midfielder. No idea why he was allowed to take the freekick in the end. Had a bit of handbags at the end with Samir. 7
Francis Coquelin – Great game, really like him as a player, he has that terrier like attitude we all love. He also has composure and great passing. 7.5
Yossi Benayoun (c) – Not an amazing game but he kept the ball well. 6
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Top performance after a slightly poor outing last time. Was at the heart of everything, busy, creative and hard-working. Could be a spectacular player after February. 8
Marouane Chamakh – He’s not interested. He really didn’t do anything to show the fans he gave a crap today. Bad control, poor passing and no instinct for the goal. What a waste of 3 seasons tracking. 4
Park – Nearly scored a tap in early on but was denied by a great save. Ok striker, but he really does look like £3million worth of player at the moment. 5