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Normal service is resumed (Wigan 0, City 2)

19 September 2010

Post-Haircut Tévez is tougher to spot on the pitch. Hint: He's the guy involved in all the goals.

Today’s 2-0 win at Wigan was doubly satisfying in that it ended two really disconcerting streaks — the recent slump in league form and the fact City never had won a Premier League match at Wigan. It was a thoroughly professional performance away from home and exactly the sort of showing you’d hope for this early in the season from a club integrating so many new faces.

The opening 35 minutes seemed to be sabotaged by a waterlogged pitch, as neither side was able to put together much in the way of a scoring chance, with a Carlos Tévez strike across his body that went just wide of the post the closest thing to a chance. Wigan were playing 10 men behind the ball and looked committed to making it tough on their guests, until the kind of break that had been going against City suddenly went in their favor.

In the 43rd minute, Joe Hart slipped while taking a goal kick, and it struck the head of Mohamed Diamé and bounced behind the Latics’ central defenders. Tévez reacted the quickest, raced onto the ball, and chipped very neatly over the onrushing Ali Al-Habsi into the open goal.

The opening goal seemed to both embolden City and force Wigan to come out of their bunker and attack a bit. The result was a second half that opened up much more, with Tévez nearly adding a second on a couple of occasions. City eventually did double their lead in the 70th minute, when Tévez got onto the end of a David Silva header and found Yaya Touré at the far post. The Ivorian banged in the cross with his left foot for his long-awaited first goal in a City shirt.

Though it felt like job done at that point, I did get a bit nervous shortly thereafter when Wigan finally put together their first real spell of pressure on the City goal. The wall deflected Hugo Rodallega’s free kick wide of goal, and Diamé couldn’t find the back of the net with a wide-open header from the middle of the six-yard box.

It was another outstanding effort from Tévez, who once again found himself involved in the City scoring. I was very happy to see Yaya Touré on the scoresheet finally, even though he was a bit more anonymous in the midfield than a player of his ability should be. Silva had his best league performance so far at his new club, and Nigel de Jong was his usual disruptive self — to the point he may have been fortunate to stay on the pitch after a number of crunching tackles.

Looking at the league table in September usually is a meaningless exercise, but it is worth noting that even after the recent poor results, City find themselves in the final Champions League place. It’s frustrating to see Spurs level on eight points, given how relatively poor they’ve been in the league, but City only have themselves to blame for that.

Up next is City’s Carling Cup season debut in the form of a mid-week trip to West Brom that I’m hoping launches another deep run in the league cup, hopefully this time resulting in some silverware.

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