It was a fine week for City with two victories in the FA Cup and in the Premier League. Of course there was a bit of controversy thrown in, in typical City fashion, with the Kolo Toure positive drugs test being revealed on Thursday.
The first challenge of the week was Gerard Houllier’s Aston Villa in the 5th Round of the FA Cup. I suspected before the game that it would be a far tougher game than it was in reality. City simply strolled through the game at a leisurely pace and found net with relative ease and surefire class. Not to take anything away from City, but Villa fielded a weakened side leaving out the most obvious threats of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young. Darren Bent was ineligible due to being cup tied after his January move from Sunderland.
In spite of Villa’s weakened side City approached the game with pace and intent and this paid off after Yaya Toure found the net after five minutes. Toure capitalising on some sloppy defending from a City corner. The Ivorian’s shot threatened to bust the net such was the power. As Alan Partridge would say “he must have a foot like a traction engine”.
City were clearly in control of the game and it was one of those occasions in which you just knew City would definitely win. An occasion to savor as that it is not a scenario City find themselves very often!
City doubled their lead after twenty five minutes; Mario Balotelli justifying his nick name, ‘Super Mario’. Although he is super in a rather different way to his fictional, dungaree wearing, moustache bearing, computer game character namesake. Balotelli ran onto a lofted through ball from Yaya Toure to take the deftest of touches and float the ball into the top left of the corner of the goal. The finish was sublime especially considering the ball was on the rise as Balotelli struck it. A lesser striker could have easily blasted the ball into row Z.
A large part of the reason why Villa were nullified from the word go was David Silva. Silva is simply astounding and Inoculated City will not tire of singing his praises. The silky Spaniard has given City an extra dimension and the ability to calve open the sternest of defenses. Silva’s efforts were rewarded with a fine goal on the seventy minute mark as he drove a low shot from the edge of the penalty past Brad Friedel.
So, a fine three-nil victory against Villa has allowed City to dream of potential FA Cup semi final at Wembley. Although, City have to beat Reading first and when City are involved it is very rarely a foregone conclusion.
On Thursday it was revealed that Kolo Toure had tested positive for “banned substance” on a doping test taken on the day of the Manchester derby. As a consequence, he has been suspended indefinitely by the club until the legal investigation has been resolved. This is a major blow for City as they need all their players at this crucial stage of the season.
It has been suggested that Toure took his wife’s dietary supplement which Inoculated City would like to think would not result in a lengthy ban. It is a rather inconvenient turn of events for City and it was great to see Mancini dedicate the subsequent victory over Wigan to Toure who was only able to watch from the stands. Mancini has in effect shown a huge vote of confidence to Toure and this can only be good for him and the rest of the City squad.
The Wigan game on Saturday was not a pretty spectacle and bared very little resemblance to the performance against Villa. City had the better of the first half and David Silva enabled City took a lead into the second half. Silva’s rather tame strike should not have threatened but Wigan ‘keeper Ali Al Habsi was unable to collect the ball and let it slip through him to trickle over the line.
The second half was a different kettle of fish and Wigan had a number of chances to equalize, the closest chance falling to Conor Sammon in the last seconds of the game. In the end City held on to claim the three points. City did not play well but managed to win. It is modern day footballing cliché that a sign of a great team is being able to get results even when playing badly. I noticed that in the post match scrutiny there was no mention of this cliché attributed to City. Although, I suspect that if Manchester United or Arsenal had won in this manner this cliché would be nauseatingly attributed to them without hesitation.
Nonetheless, this does not particularly matter, what matters is that City picked up three points and a good week was made even better by the fact that Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham all dropped points. Inoculated City reckons a rather apt conclusion to the week can be found in the words of Alan Partridge: “the proof is in the pudding and the pudding in this case is a football”.
Next week City take on Dyname Kiev in Ukraine in the first leg the last 16 tie in the Europa League on Thursday. Also, on Sunday City welcome Reading to Manchester for the FA Cup Quarter Final, giving City the chance to take a trip to Wembley for the first time since the infamous Division 2 Play Off Final against Gillingham in 1999.
Words by Rob Toole