MANCHESTER CITY 2 v STOKE CITY FC 0
Manager Tony Pulis opted for an unchanged side,recognising the excellent performance at Villa last week,and probably too the upcoming fixture at home to Birmingham on Monday.Ryan Shawcross was given more time to get over his injury,and Robert Huth, back from suspension,was on the bench.
Stoke had the first real chance of the match,a golden opportunity in the twentieth minute.Tuncay found himself one on one with goalkeeper Given.Tuncay got a powerful shot away from point blank range,which the keeper somehow managed to divert away with his knee,at the cost of an injury.
Man City took the lead seven minutes later.Livewire Tevez teased the Stoke defence before cutting the ball across the Stoke goalmouth.Robinho missed the ball altogether but Petrov,coming in from the right,finished despite Sorensen's despairing scrambling dive.
On several more occasions Tuncay and Etherington ran at the home defence without any real end product.Stoke set pieces were uniformly poor,with Whelan being the main culprit,hitting his efforts short,or low,sometimes both.Given |Stoke's size advantage,there was a strange reluctance to putting the ball high into the box.
Right on halftime Stoke conceded again.Poor marking saw Barry in the Stoke penalty area comfortably head an incoming cross toward Tevez.As he raced in he managed to get his leg high enough to get a toe to the ball,taking it just clear of Sorensen and into the net.A bad time indeed to concede again.
Things could have got worse for a despondent Stoke team immediately after the break.Robinho got through on goal,but Sorensen pulled off a save.Wilkinson injured his ankle as his last ditch tackle helped break up the move.To that point his energetic and enthusiastic performance had marked him out as Stoke's man of the match.By contrast Diao and Whelan looked well below par.
Huth came on for Wilko, Fuller for Tuncay,and Beattie for Sidibe,with both the starting strikers having become largely anonymous as the game progressed. James Beattie nearly got on the scoresheet on 71 minutes.The ball reached him to the left of Given's goal.He hit a tremendous goal bound volley,but the keeper responded with his second miraculous save of the match.Shortly after Huth headed Etherington's corner wide of the Man City goal.
Stoke had one other chance of note.With a couple of minutes to go Danny Collins'free kick into the area from the left was headed on by Fuller to Higginbotham but he put the ball wide of the goal.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?Amazingly still in 11th place in the table,but crucially now only 4 points off the drop zone.Teams below us are finding some form.More to the point they are scoring goals,which at the moment we are not.
Given Manchester City's defensive frailty this season,it begs the question as to why we did not go for a more attack minded line up.From the evidence certainly from the Villa match the goals will return,but the situation is such that this needs to be sooner rather than later.
Three points against Birmingham is now an imperative!!