At the end of this game there weren’t enough City fans left in the upper tier of the Park Lane to even attempt to tear down the freshly restored hoardings as per the example set by those oh so dangerous visiting rascals on Wednesday night and who would’ve predicted that before the game? Or even after 40 minutes perhaps when the away team were ahead and seemingly poised to spend the remainder of the match picking us off on the break before heading home with the points? Not me, that’s for certain.
As ever Hugo was heroically keeping us in the game at one end whilst hoping for signs of life at the other. Son, Kane and Lamela all had efforts on goal showing that the DNR sign need not be turned round just yet but you sensed that we needed a break and judging by both the aborted Jumbotron replay and the angry post incident reaction of the Man City players, we got one when an apparently offside Walker was allowed to drill a cross across the six yard box. The keeper got there just before Son; the ball fell to a City defender who played the ball invitingly into the path of Eric Dier 25 yards from goal. Dier’s first time shot cannoned in off the post and we were level at the break.
The game completed its 180 degree turn in the second half with the City defence caving in at the slightest pressure. First Caballero jumped under Lamela’s free kick and Alderweireld headed home, then our maverick Argentine was needlessly fouled (don’t kick him, just wait for him to give the ball away!) allowing Kane to mop up the cross bar rebound from Eriksen’s free-kick. The fourth came on the break and was set up by Njie for Lamela who appeared to try to do his best to miss from close range whilst the defenders and goalkeeper fell over in front of him. Njie’s short cameo was far more encouraging than his appearance on Wednesday, his composure and decision making were far more impressive.
So a result as morale-boosting as it was unexpected. During the opening section of the game Alli and Dier struggled to get a grip whilst Toure, and Right Said Ferd moved the ball easily around them. We seemed to be suffering from a lack of technique as the ball bounced away regularly from Son and Lamela in particular though Walker it was who inadvertently gave the ball away (on the edge of the City box) for de Bruyne’s opener. That moment aside though the back four were assured throughout – having the physical presence of Dier in front of them is making a difference. Aguero, who is normally presented with a buffet when he plays against us, was restricted to just one clear shooting chance and that was from range.
Lamela’s determination was matched by some end product, Alli and Son played well but suggested that there is more to come, ditto with Dier and Harry broke this season’s duck. He’s back? Hope so.
The star whose contribution should not be forgotten or underestimated was once again skipper Hugo. He stood no chance with de Bruyne’s goal but he it was who allowed us to fight back by being more than a match for everything else City threw at him – his save from Sterling at the foot of his right hand post in particular is worthy of mention.
Four away games in the next five fixtures, given our injuries charges of a lack of squad depth are imminent I’d say.
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