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A mixed bag (Blackpool 2, City 3)

18 October 2010
Tévez goal celebration with fans at Bloomfield Road
A mob scene as the traveling City fans celebrate Carlos Tévez’s opening goal at Bloomfield Road.

In the end it was a good three points for City, but I was left unsure of how I should feel about this one. Despite owning a massive talent advantage, Roberto Mancini’s men were outplayed for the middle 35 minutes of the first half and the first 20 minutes of the season half. And the visitors were both lucky in some respects (namely, some borderline calls that went their way) and unlucky in other respects (hitting the woodwork three times). All in all, the result was a relatively fair one in terms of chances created.

Yaya Touré ended up losing his race to get healthy in time for this one, but Mancini mixed things up by resting his brother as well. With Kolo Touré sitting this one out, Vincent Kompany moved to right center back and Joleon Lescott started on the left side of the central defense. Blackpool did a nice job of finding their wide forwards down the wing with some nice long balls, as City fullbacks Wayne Bridge and Jérôme Boateng struggled throughout much of the match.

They weren’t the only players in sky blue who failed to impress. Nigel de Jong appeared to be rattled by the firestorm surrounding his challenge on Hatem Ben Arfa, as he did not look like himself out there. The Dutchman attempted only a handful of sliding tackles and seemed to spend the majority of the match jogging around aimlessly in the middle of the pitch as Blackpool dominated the midfield and with it possession. Mancini needs to speak with his midfielder and find out if he’s going to be able to shake this off, or whether Patrick Vieira needs to take his place next weekend against Arsenal.

Watching the match at The Banshee with a decent-sized group of City fans, there were a lot of groans whenever City cheaply (and frequently) gave away possession. Credit Blackpool with playing well and not giving too much respect to their guests, but City made things too easy on them with their carelessness with possession.

Carlos Tévez’s opener came right after Blackpool’s best spell of the game, including a goal that may have been wrongly disallowed. Another borderline offside call went City’s way on the opening goal, as Tévez was very close to being offside when the ball was delivered in, though the Argentine did apply a great finish while twisting around to deflect the ball into goal. And credit has to go to Mancini for recognizing that Emmanuel Adebayor simply wasn’t getting the job done and subbing him out in favor of David Silva, who had a major impact on the game.

After one stupid foul in a bad location resulted in a near-miss for Charlie Adam, but a second by Wayne Bridge resulted in an equalizer when the zonal marking allowed Marlon Harewood to get in front of Lescott and redirect it past Joe Hart with his head.

While the broadcast still was showing replays of that goal, Tévez got the ball in a dangerous location. He lost it to a Blackpool defender, but came back to win it back (possibly clipping the opponent’s heel just prior), and firing his team back into the lead thanks to a major deflection off a Blackpool defender.

Silva scored his first Premier League goal when Blackpool shockingly left him uncovered on a short free kick from the right side. The Spaniard juked defenders out three times in the box before curling a left-footed shot to the far post to seemingly wrap it up for City just as regulation time ended.

Yet nothing ever seems to be easy for City, and Blackpool ensured the final minutes would be tense ones when they got a goal back a couple of minutes into stoppage time. One refereeing decision that went against City was Phil Dowd’s very questionable decision to award the corner on which the goal was scored when the ball appeared to be kicked over the byline by a Blackpool foot.

In the end, however, City rode out the storm to pull within just two points of leaders Chelsea. It was a fine result against Blackpool side that I’m beginning to think may just stay up despite a squad that looked laughable prior to the season. Ian Holloway’s team truly is greater than the sum of its parts and I’ll be rooting for their survival.

Up next for City is a home Europa League date against Lech Poznań mid-week, followed by their second Big Four showdown of the young season when Arsenal visit Eastlands on Sunday.

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