Verdict: Bolton Wanderers 2 Manchester City 3
David Silva was again the star of a second successive victory as City claimed top spot in the fledgling Premier League table. There were plenty of other top-class performances in another impressive team showing.
Roberto Mancini has instilled a solidity and purposefulness throughout the side where every player contributes and appears fully aware of their role. The manager seems to finally have the side playing exactly how he wants, even if he wasn’t happy at the narrowness of the victory.
Silva was the fulcrum, but Dzeko had his best game for the club, while Milner looked like the player he was in that final season at Villa. Gareth Barry is another who looks to have benefitted from a summer without international football. There was a sharpness to his movement that’s too often lacking.
Talking of which, Aleks Kolarov looked a lot brighter and might finally be up to Premier League speed. It was a surprise to see Clichy on the bench after his promising performance against Swansea, yet the Serbian justified his selection by standing up to the physical test supplied by Bolton.
It was a bruising encounter at times with Yaya, Aguero and Silva all on the receiving end. Despite the progressive football Coyle is credited for, there is still the old physical aspect to Bolton’s game at times. Fortunately everyone appeared to come through unscathed.
With de Jong still injured from the Swansea game, it was interesting to see Yaya drop into a deeper role alongside Barry. This removed the selection headache of where to play Aguero, as he occupied Yaya’s position behing Dzeko – albeit playing the role in a very different way.
This was clearly a more attacking version of Mancini’s preferred formation. Yaya didn’t sit deep to the extent de Jong does, while his passing was excellent in finding those in space.
Adam Johnson could consider himself unlucky to be back on the bench, though once again Mancini’s decision was justified with Milner’s work-rate making him a key player in us taking control of the midfield.
While many in the media have commented on the interchanging of positions as being key to City’s new found expansivenss, Mancini did use the same tactics last year. Tevez playing the ‘false 9’ role while Balotelli, Johnson and others broke in from the flanks was a common feature.
One new attacking feature was leaving three men up when defending a corner. This kept Bolton players back and worked effectively enough, even if we didn’t score from any subsequent breakaways.
Lescott has been blamed for the goals conceded, yet neither were defensive howlers. Klasnic attacked Petrov’s cross and hit the ball first time in a manner which any defender would have struggled to intercept.
For Bolton’s second, Davies had been tangling with Kompany and Lescott throughout and it was inevitable he would win the odd header. Just a pity it was perfectly placed to drop inside the post.
For City, Silva’s goal was reward for some good approach play and a misjudgement by Jaaskelainen. Barry’s was a superb strike and a reminder of the qulaity he possesses in that left foot.
Dzeko’s goal capped a fantastic performance from the big Bosnian. After getting goal-side of Knight and looking across the line, he fired the ball with great power and saw it bounce under Jaaskelainen’s arm to give the keeper no chance.
Aguero was less clinical with two first half chances, both set up by Dzeko incidentally. The Argentine showed some good touches and movement before tiring in the second half. Mancini is right to say that he still needs to work on his fitness.
At least we had a decent substitute in the form of Tevez! He wasted no time in heading for goal and might have got one when Johnson fired over a cross-shot.
While the hyperbole surrounding Aguero was great fun last week, he’s unlikely to provide the consistency we see from Tevez week in week out. As such it will be a huge bonus if Carlos stays.
Along with all the praise for our attacking play, it was good to see we haven’t forgotten how to close out a game with a slender lead. The closing minutes were played out without too much discomfort after Mancini introduced Zabaleta.
Against Bolton there was a confidence and vibrancy to our play. If we can take that to Spurs next weekend then another excellent game ought to ensue.