Match Report: Manchester City 3 Wigan Athletic 0
We’d outlined the sheer gap in wealth between the two clubs in our match preview. Given that gulf, and looking at things from an unemotional and mathematical perspective, 3-0 in the away fixture is not the end of the world. Particularly when you consider that Spurs lost to them 5-1 at home and direct relegation rivals Swansea went down 4-0.
But these facts should not mask a limp performance from the Latics, who looked resigned to defeat before a ball was kicked. Only Ali Al-Habsi, at his brilliant best, seemed to believe a result could be obtained. He kept Latics in the match far longer than they deserved to be.
It was one of those games where you can’t really point the finger at any of the individuals. No one was shocking, but no one minus the Omani was much good either. Wigan was soundly beaten by an in-form all-star team, and if anything the scoreline was flattering to the visitors. The shame, for this writer, was the lack of belief and fight. Roberto’s men have, in the past, lost by larger margins by gambling a little more offensively, so perhaps this was a reflection of those difficult lessons and an awareness of the importance of goal difference. But as Jakarta Jack pointed out after the match, not even a yellow card was registered. While not advocating a Fat Sam-style approach, sometimes when you play a more skilled team, you do have to pull a shirt or two, break rhythm and momentum. I can’t remember one professional foul. You just can’t compete with players of that quality without disrupting them.
To be fair to Roberto, he recognized after the match that it was a poor performance. I personally think they missed Antolin Alcaraz and James McCarthy more than has been acknowledged — both inspirational performers whose all-action style galvanizes the side and gives them belief. But even if they’d found a way to keep Aguero and Silva quiet, it’s hard to imagine a different outcome with the firepower City have.
Ali Al-Habsi. Outstanding performance complete with a penalty-save from Carlos Tevez, who has gone from big fish in a big pond, to regular fish in a very large pond, and it shows. Wigan’s keeper looks back to his best.
No suspensions or confirmed injuries. Although Emmerson Boyce was withdrawn in the second half, I haven’t seen any news confirming that he is injured. The flip side of getting no cards is that no one will be suspended for more winnable matches.
An improved Adrian Lopez. Didn’t have much protection in this match but still looked much better than his previous two. He made more important tackles than anyone else on the pitch to prevent the score from being worse. A bit clumsy in giving away the penalty. But given the news that Gohouri’s calf injury is going to keep him out at least another two weeks, Wigan needs Lopez to grow in stature, and he took a step towards that at Eastlands.
A weak resistance. Should have been 5-0 by half-time. Latics were lucky to escape 3-0 losers.
A Neutral Would Say:
Latics were lucky not to have lost by more.
Ali Al-Habsi: 9 — Conceded three but couldn’t be blamed for any of them. Each of Aguero’s finishes was precise. Saved a penalty and made several other important interventions.
Emmerson Boyce: 6.5 — Linked well with Victor Moses on several occasions down the right.
Gary Caldwell: 6 — No real mistakes, but struggled to cope with Tevez and Aguero. I’d guess his lack of pace was the reason Mancini decided to play the two speedy Argentines up front rather than Edin Dzeko, who has been in excellent form but is the type of forward Caldwell defends quite well against.
Adrian Lopez: 6 — Gave away the penalty but was better than his previous outings, and made several very good tackles.
Figueroa: 6 — Very quiet offensively save for one excellent lofted pass for Di Santo in the first half. Struggled to cope with Adam Johnson, who beat him in one-on-one situations almost every time and fortunately had left his shooting boots at home.
Ben Watson: 6.5 — Passed the ball well enough from midfield but was outmuscled by Milner and Toure in midfield.
James McArthur: 6 — Presumably given the start to add a bit of industry to the midfield, he tried hard and did some good tackling, but could not assert himself on the game. Looked slow at times.
Mo Diame: 6 — Quiet display.
Victor Moses: 6.5 — Latics’ most inventive player, tried to take people on and make things happen, but was left frustrated.
Hugo Rodallega: 6 — Had one of Latics’ two chances, shooting at Joe Hart in the second half. Hugo is better on the left wing against weaker teams. He couldn’t beat Clichy. Ended the game as center-forward, but didn’t have too many chances.
Franco Di Santo: 6 — Worked hard and made some intelligent runs, but spurned one very good opportunity in the first half after being put through by Maynor Figueroa.
Albert Crusat: 6.5 — The game was lost by the time he was on. He got knocked off the ball fairly easily on several occasions, but looked lively and should not be judged on this baptism of fire. Looks quick and good on the ball.
Jordi Gomez: 6 — Not much time to assert himself on the game. It’s a sign of how far he’s come in the first three matches of the season that I was actually sad not to see him name in the starting lineup.
Ronnie Stam: 6 — Came on for Emmerson Boyce and wasn’t directly at fault for any of the goals, but the defense looked weaker when Boycey went off.