Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Ian Cheeseman0
3-2 win at West Brom
Maybe the 3-2 win at West Brom illustrated the so-called “problem away from home” more than any other game.
Firstly teams have generally started coming to the Etihad Stadium worried. They approach their games against City differently on their own turf. They have more pressure to keep going, and they believe they have a better chance of getting a result. At the Etihad, I’ve seem players drop their heads when they go a goal behind, but that’s not allowed to happen as easily when they’re in front of their own fans.
Secondly, City have started games less quickly away from home, which has allowed the home crowd to build atmosphere, which in turn lifts their team. That wasn’t true at West Brom though, City came out of the traps flying and played some beautiful team football, scoring two great “team goals” – the second one, finished by Yaya Toure was brilliant. I’ve seen the Suarez goals from Liverpool’s win against Norwich, and it’s obvious that his long range effort will be replayed over and over again, and is likely to win the goal of the month competition, For me, Yaya’s was better, but I realise I might be in a minority of one with that view.
A better goalkeeper and better closing down by Norwich’s midfield, could and probably should have stopped that Suarez goal, but I’d suggest the slick first time passing and quality of that Yaya goal was virtually unstoppable, that’s why I think it’s a better goal, but hey ho, I’m sure most people think I’m biased or just nuts for having my view, but that’s what it is, my view.
The third reason why the West Brom game showed why City have struggled away, this season, was illustrated by what happened as the substitutions happened. City’s dynamic, energetic display slowed down and lost some of it’s quality. Aguero, Nasri and eventually Yaya, went off and on came Rodwell, Garcia and Milner. Whatever your views, I’m sure that you’d agree that any team that made those changes of personnel would not be as strong.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need to protect key players ahead of the upcoming festive fixture congestion, so no criticism of changing things as such, but does my comment not suggest that the quality within, indeed the depth of the squad is not as strong as we’d like to believe it is?
It’s true that Jovetic and Silva are extremely strong players who didn’t start, but there’ll always be one or two key players injured or suspended, so maybe the lack of quality, outside the best 15, has been exposed by away form, when the “other team” keeps coming for 90 minutes, unlike at the Etihad where they often throw the towel in once they fall behind. With the best available eleven, more or less, City were brilliant at the Hawthorns, but as the key players left the field, the quality dropped and the Baggies got two goals back that misled those that didn’t see the game, into thinking it was closer than it should have been ; but that happened at Aston villa too, and that one ended differently. .
It was great to see Vincent Kompany back. I got to chat to him after the game.
“It’s good to be back, I’ve been looking forward to it for so long. I was just dying to be released!”
I suggested to him that many City fans felt that some of City’s occasional defensive lapses were due to his injury absence, here’s his response,
“No no no, there’s no such thing as coming back and being a hero, that’s a mistake you can make if you think you can come back and be a hero. I just wanted to help, I’m just one team player, trying to do my best for the team.”
He admitted that perhaps he’d rushed back from injury too quickly last time but this time he insists that having been held back this time, he’s better equipped though he laughed and said, “my head can promise but my body can’t, but I want to be back for as long as I can. I live my life like the best of professionals, if I can play four or five in a row I’m sure all those problems will be behind me.”
Next up is a trip to Southampton, which looked daunting two games ago, they were flying, City weren’t convincing away from home, but the mood has changed and now I’m expecting the Blues to come home with all three points, but only if they start with their strongest possible team, and start the game as they did at West Brom.
If you missed last week’s Blue Tuesday with Shaun Goater, Andy Morrison and Eyal Berkovic, you can get the podcast by going to bbc.co.uk/radiomanchester before next Tuesday when Andy Morrison will join me again. He’ll be in Salford, I’ll be in Munich!
See you there, if you’re going!
– Ian Cheeseman