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New Look Man City Shows Great Attacking Flair, Comical Defending

For as many times as Richard Dunne and Shay Given collided today, you might have guessed that they had never played together before in their lives.

Dunne’s defensive woes today nearly overshadowed the lightning-quick start to Manchester City’s season. In the third minute, Emmanuel Adebayor served up a through ball from the center circle that released Shawn Wright-Phillips far down the right wing. Wright-Phillips then served up the onrushing Adebayor, who finished spectacularly. At that moment, it seemed Man City would be worth every penny they spent.

It would be another 89 minutes before Man City would score again and clinch a 2-0 win. As you would expect, Blackburn Rovers refused to lie down on a soggy day at Ewood Park, but this game proved to be as much of an indictment of Blackburn’s finishing as Man City’s defensive issues.

The attacking pressure from Sam Allerdyce’s side often exposed the shakiness of Man City’s backline. Blackburn’s set pieces, including a number of long throws from Morten Gamst Pedersen, kept the black-shirted Citizens scrambling for clearances. Shay Given remained solid in goal, and Kolo Toure did fine work in one-on-one situations, but Dunne’s mistakes — including a very fortunate non-call for a handball in the box at the end of the first half — highlighted why Man City is pursuing Joleon Lescott so doggedly.

Blackburn controlled the tempo of the game for much of the first half. Mark Hughes’ side, however, looked stronger in the second half and showed glimpses of great attacking prowess, serving up classy through balls and attack runs that put players in great position to score. The pace of Craig Bellamy up front and Robinho and Wright-Phillips on the wings  put the screws to Blackburn all day, while Gareth Barry looked strong in a more defensive role, Carlos Tevez threatened to score just moments after he replaced Robinho in the 68th minute, and Stephen Ireland’s late game-clinching goal was top shelf stuff.

Hughes deployed a 4-4-2 for this match, rather than the 4-1-2-3 I had predicted he might use, but with attacking players moving off their lines to set up opportunities, it proved effective. Regardless, Hughes clearly has the personnel to be very flexible in his lineup decisions, so we’ll likely see him use different formations to exploit different oppositions’ weaknesses — and to satisfy all the talent on his bench.

After today, however, Hughes’ biggest concern might be getting Dunne and Given on the same page. You’d think two guys who had been playing together for the Republic of Ireland for the last decade or so would have done a whole lot better than this.

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  1. Arsenal14

    August 16, 2009 at 4:27 am

    Arsenal lost 2 of their best players? when? Henry , Viera , Pires left years ago! we havent lost 2 of our best players in a while..Ade had 1 good season but last year he wasn’t great and Kolo last year was on a decline..I like them both but them leaving doesnt hurt the team…anyway HOW GREAT WAS IT when Hughes took a spill at full time even Big Sam laughed..City looked good..The hand ball missed call was NOT A HAND BALL..Ball to arm not arm to ball..where was his arm supposed to go?I do hope City crack the top 4 just not at our expense!

  2. Gabriel

    August 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    I am surprised ppl in here forget how rudimentary Dunne is, yes a great captain, but a very limited defender.
    I think Hughes will let Dunne play until he does on of his 2 tricks he usually does: stupid goal conceded off poor defending, or a red card.

    Then comes the big problem: who do you slot in there? Onuoha? Kompany? Lescott? Kind of hard to decide, but I would go for Onuoha.

    And as a response to Tyson, City doesn’t need to put 6 behind Everton, they just need a nice, hard fought 1-0 win, that’s is all. Same with Manure, Che$$ki and Assnall. Hope all is well in frustration land, there’s only one Tottenham Hotspur in EPL.

  3. wllmhll

    August 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    they definitely need lescott then, and so do everton too. the toffees were embarrassingly poor, played like a newly promoted side.

  4. Uarafool

    August 15, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    How about Arsenals Shambolic defending concedes goal! great headline. olo

  5. Jake

    August 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Also, singling out City for ridicule for winning 2-0 away against a side most don’t see facing a relegation battle looks pretty silly on a day when Chelsea needed a stoppage-time winner from Drogba to scrape by relegation fodder Hull City at home.

    If you want to be taken seriously as a pundit, you’ll need to be a little more consistent and a little less agenda-driven in your analysis.

    • Uarafool

      August 15, 2009 at 7:01 pm

      Yer right mate, Comical defending = clean sheet with this guy blackburn 3 shots on target at home! but i wouldn’t expect anything else

  6. Sam

    August 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    arsenal lost their best defender, really, i saw gallas score today, vermallean is bettwer than toure, and losing their best forward to man city, i did not see van persie, arshavin eduardo or bendter play baackburn, and arsenal played a vastly superior team on their home turf, man city beat sam allrdyce, who cares arsenal beat david moyes, better coach, and i am no means an arsenal supporter, hate them actually, but if you think man city will knock arsenal out, did you see arsenals passing, looked like Barcelona did last year with the 4 3 3

  7. Jake

    August 15, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Look, we know from your previous post that you’re really hoping to see City fail this season, but this post is pure wishful thinking. Against an Allardyce-managed side that look to send aerial crosses and long throws into the box at every opportunity, City actually looked relatively composed. Given was forced into one great save and another semi-challenging one (due to traffic obscuring his view of a weak-ish shot), but otherwise wasn’t very busy. Richard Dunne may not have won any style points for colliding with his international teammate, but when that’s the biggest criticism on a day when a clean sheet is recorded, that’s getting a big desperate.

    And for what it’s worth, Dunne won’t be starting alongside Touré when Onuoha and Kompany return from injury or when Lescott signs, so don’t get too excited about the prospect of seeing him in the City defense.

  8. christopher

    August 15, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Well, some people sure act like ill-mannered children when you dare say something negative about “their” team. Rather amusing actually..

    • Uarafool

      August 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm

      But they if they won 10-0 people would still be talking shit!

  9. Tyson

    August 15, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    It was a humiliating result when taken into context for the days Premier League results.

    I mean take into consideration Arsenal who lost 2 of their best players smashed a superior team 6-1.

    Manchester City with 200 million pounds of reinforcements could barely shut out a vastly inferior team to the one Arsenal destroyed.

    This season Manchester City is going to look like the ass of the league if they don’t win anything.

    The Arsenal smashing of Everton and the joke that City was against Blackburn Rovers of all teams really shows the mile of distance between the two clubs. Manchester City would have never put 6 past Everton.

    The embarassment for another season begins!

    • Uarafool

      August 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm

      U r Fukin nuts dude, HA HA HA bitter red

      • dageeza

        August 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm

        you dont know the game mate stick to basball….

        • dageeza

          August 17, 2009 at 1:03 pm

          or even baseball…

  10. evan

    August 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    get rid of dunne please! buy lescott, you can tell he wants to join Man City. Just look at his performance against Arsenal today, all he was thinking about was how to get to Man City. I heard Man City made a bid of 22 million pounds for him. David Moyes would be stupid to refuse the bid.

    • Joel

      August 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm

      So the way to get to City is to play like crap and lose 6-1? Think they have room for me on the roster?

  11. the theory

    August 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    No Richard Dunne apologist here. He was straight rubbish. I can’t believe someone who has been so solid for club and country in the past has fallen so hard. I would rather see Onuoha paired with Toure than Dunne. Sell him to Sunderland for 5 million pounds, or to Puerto Rico for a case of Bacardi. Either would be a steal for City.
    I’m not entirely sure the non-call on the handball was inaccurate, though – his arms were certainly straight up and down against his body, and if there’s anything I’m confident of, it’s that Dunne, like everything else that happened in the City penalty area today, didn’t know much about.

    • Uarafool

      August 15, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      The non call as you call it was ball 2 hand at 80 mph at 10 feet. The ref could watch that on slow mow and still wouldn’t give it!

  12. Dave Warner

    August 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Oh, come ON, people. Richard Dunne was getting in Shay Given’s way all day and let the opposition get position on him multiple times. If it weren’t for Kolo Toure’s ability to clean up and Blackburn’s inability to finish, this would not have been a shutout.

    Yes, Man City won, 2-0, and most of the rest of the team looked strong, but honestly. I had no idea Richard Dunne had so many apologists.

    • Uarafool

      August 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm

      The 1 time I remember a colison it wasn’t Dunnes fault, the box is Giverns area while coming out should have been screaming his head off. I’m not a Dunne fan but thought he did well today. Don’t know what your on about son. The boy done good and so did City in all departments, not many teams took much from Ewood this year if any!

  13. stevo

    August 15, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    what game were you watching Dave…? Yes City soaked up the pressure for big stretches of time today and dealt with it all pretty well. I don’t know if you noticed but the score was 2 – 0… considering that last season we’d have drawn or more likely lost that game you clearly don’t have a clue what you’re on about.

  14. Ryan

    August 15, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    It wasn’t great, but still 2-0 away, took 3 points, only took 11 points away all last season. I am quite pleased with the result. CITY CITY CITY!


    August 15, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    What is Dave Warner talking about? City served up a great defensive display, Dunne and Toure soaking up 89 mins of pressure between the two goals. This was the one thing lacking last season, especially away from home. This was a clinical performance and i can only see one team coming between City and our first premiership title – that team being liverpool. man U are weakened by their failure to replace the best player in the world, and losing Tevez thus leaving a toothless Wayne Rooney up front. Arsenal have had their best defender and best forward ripped from them, by none other than City, Chelsea are a good but ageing side: prediction

    1) Liverpool
    2) Man City
    3) Man utd

  16. John H

    August 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    What game was this clown watching!
    You cannot expect any team to go thru a match without having chances against them.
    The team looked solid considering how many new players played.
    0-2 away from home first game of the season.
    Get a Life!

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