Given – The Irishman didn’t have a great deal to do, and his best save struck him on the shoulder, but who can argue with another clean sheet. Must feel invincible. 7
Richards -Ã‚Â Showed no ill effects from Thursday night and had his best game of the season. An excellent poacher’s finish for the disallowed goal. Let’s hope the injury isn’t serious. 8
Toure – The season’s best defensive performance had the new skipper at it’s heart. His influence seemed to be rubbing off on the improved Richards. 8
Lescott – Barring one Dunney style pass to the opposition, this was an excellent Premier League debut in front of the watching Fabio Capello. Commanding in the air, and patrolled his area of the pitch with authority. 8
Bridge – From being aÃ‚Â man alone in the left back slot last season, he now had Lescott, Barry and Bellamy all helping him out. Little wonder his best form continues. 8
Wright-Phillips – Showed the same graft as Thursday, but without the finishing touches. Needs to work on his link-up play with Tevez and Adebayor. 6
Ireland -Ã‚Â Held his own in midfield until Brown clobbered him. May not be spending as much time running around the Glossop hills as he hoped on the international break.
Barry – With better assistance from Ireland and De Jong, the Englishman controlled the midfield. Even managed a couple of Elano-esque crossfield passes. 8
Bellamy – Worked hard and came into his own in the second halt. The Pompey full-back never had a moments rest. However the Welshman lacked the vision of Robinho and crossing ability of Petrov. 6
Adebayor – Looks capable of scoring every game, and does! He worked the flanks, lead the line and showed the most quality of all the front players. 8
Tevez – Plenty of industry, but still to reach top form. Amongst the harrying, there were some fine touches, but little goal threat. 6
Zabaleta – The Argentinian’s passing was tidier than Richards. Picked up his customary booking and to often looked like conceding free-kicks. 6
De Jong – Another late cameo from the Dutchman. Provided a steadying influence in the middle of the park. 6
Man of the match: Barry and the defence all had good games, but the goal machine made the difference: Emmanuel Adebayor.
Goals: Adebayor 30 mins for City.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored in his third successive Premier League game for the Blues to secure a narrow, but deserved, victory over a limited Pompey side.
The big surprise in the line-up was the absence of Robinho. Let’s hope there’s nothing serious amiss with our Brazilian superstar, who had been the subject of a 40 million euro bid from Barcelona according to Marca. There has been nothing in the English press to substantiate this, and hopefully we can get through to Tuesday evening with last season’s top scorer still a blue.
Craig Bellamy lined up on the left, and how Martin Petrov felt about this is anybody’s guess. With Luca Modric injured for Spurs, we can expect some more speculation in the London press about Petrov joining Harry Redknapp at Spurs.
On a more positive note, Joleon Lescott made his Premier League debut for City and looked a very capable defender. There was one Dunney style gaffe when he passed straight to a Pompey forward in the second half, but overall it was a joy to see a genuine left footed central defender finally replace Distin.
The first half was mostly perspiration rather than inspiration and those who appreciate the beautiful game will have missed the silky touches of Robinho. However City were looking solid throughout the side, with the workrate and competitive nature that was the hallmark of Hughes’ Blackburn side clearly in evidence.
When the goal came, it was a straightforward affair with Barry sending over a corner for Adebayor to rise above everyone and nod home. Micah Richards had one of his better games. The hurley burley atmosphere of Fratton Park seemed to suit him, before a painful looking locked left leg saw him make way for Zabaleta. The England U-21 international had been unlucky earlier when having a perfectly good goal disallowed for Gareth Barry being offside. The former Villa man wasn’t interfering with play, but the linesman didn’t realise. For once, a Michel Platini idea, of having officials behind the goal, would have helped City!
Michael Brown didn’t disappoint with some trademark challenges on our midfielders. Somehow, he managed to escape without a caution from Howard Webb. Stephen Ireland was the biggest victim, receiving a knock before half-time which looked to reduce his effectiveness in the second period.
Adebayor continued to look a fantastic signing, even beating full-backs down the flanks, to go along with his usual link up play. Aside from the goal, his best moment was going past two defenders in the penalty area before firing in a shot that was saved by the keeper. Tevez was industrious rather than penetrative and it could be argued that Bellamy’s pace through the middle might have caused Pompey more problems, as we saw in the opening game against Blackburn.
As with the Wolves game, City nearly paid the price for not adding to their first half goal. This time it was the final few minutes where Pompey had their chances. Substitute Nugent, with his first touch after coming on, chested the ball down and should have scored, but somehow managed to hit Given on the shoulder. Shay was then grateful to have a Utaka header land in his arms. At the other end Tevez was hauled down when going through in what looked like a penalty.
Overall, the defence looked stronger, and the team worked better as a unit than in any of the previous games. For the first time, the formation with just two central midfielders, didn’t buckle at any point. The down side was the way possession was conceded to cheaply, and we never found the fluency in creating chances that we had in the first half against Wolves.
“All in all, it was a very satisfying performance, it could have been more emphatic if we had had the goal that was chalked off allowed. At 1-0, there is always that little doubt when they hit balls into your box late on. You just have to stand up to the challenge when that happens, and that is what we are doing at the moment.
“It was important to get a good start to settle everybody down. We are not making any promises about what we can achieve, we will just try to do our very best and be as consistent as we can. We have had the good start we wanted, and we have a good base to build on.”
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The Lonesome Death Of Roy Carroll
Mark Hughes will be looking to complete a hat-trick of Premier League victories and continue City’s impressive start to the season on the South coast.
The City boss appears to have settled on his preferred starting line-up for the moment, so with no injury worries it would be a surprise to see any changes to the side that beat Crystal Palace on Thursday night.
The only possible changes might be to bring in Zabaleta for Richards, or to tweak the formation with De Jong coming in to give the defence a bit more protection. The latter should certainly be a consideration in our next match, when we play Arsenal, but for Pompey I expect to see a confident Hughes stick with Barry and Ireland.
Sylvain Distin is one old boy that we won’t be facing following his sale to Everton, though amongst several debutants we should see Michael Brown. We can probably expect a typically hard working and feisty performance from the former Blue as he seeks to impress his new employers. Watch your ankles Robinho!
David James is the other former blue set to play if fit, and he could shortly be joined at Pompey by Benjani and Tal Ben Haim if newspaper reports are correct. These transfers would make sense given the connections between City’s owners and Sulaiman al-Fahim. Neither player looks to have much of a future at City while Benjani was previously a fans favourite down there – something which many City fans struggle to comprehend.
“Its early days, but I am encouraged by what we have produced and what I’ve seen so far. There’s a real resilience to us at the moment, there was a lot of focus on us ahead of Blackburn, and then we were away at the Nou Camp, which was only a friendly in inverted commas!
“We put in a great shift at Palace as well, we had to be on our mettle to come through that. Those are the type of games that were beyond us last year, and for us to improve so quickly on the road is very encouraging.
“It’s hard to plan for because personnel-wise they are changing day on day. It will be difficult to get an angle on who we are facing, they may do some business before the game so we’ll just have to see what the weekend brings.
“The key thing is for us to continue with the momentum we have built up over the last few weeks. If we can continue that, we’ll go into the international break in good heart. There are some big, big games coming up when we return, so it’s important we get a positive result against Portsmouth.”
Football ground guide to Fratton Park
Trivia: Portsmouth manager Paul Hart is the son of former City defender and manager Johnny Hart, andÃ‚Â said in The Independent today, “I was brought up at Maine Road and City were my team.”
Prediction: 3-0 to City