Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Drawing a blank

Man City 0 - 0 Newcastle Utd

It was a result I initially greeted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief, but which on reflection came to seem rather less than impressive.

Man City might be decent at home; we might have at last stopped the rot away from St James' Park, returning to Tyneside with something to show for our Premiership efforts for only the second time this season; and it was better than last season's 3-0 drubbing that cost Graeme Souness his job - but, on the other hand, it was a fourth consecutive league game without a goal, those games being against the Smoggies, Charlton, Sheffield Utd and City, none of whom are noted for the strength of their defences. What's more, the point won failed to lift us out of the relegation zone, though we did leapfrog Watford following their 4-0 thrashing at Chelsea.

In a frantic late burst of pressure, we actually had several opportunities to take all three points. Charles N'Zogbia, Nobby Solano and a fit-again Kieron Dyer had come on to enliven what had been a very muted attacking performance, with Damien Duff out of sorts on the flank and a patently injured Shola Ameobi ambling around to no effect whatsoever, and Dyer, N'Zogbia and City old boy Antoine Sibierski could all have snatched it at the death.

If they had, though, it would have been rough justice on City who had had the upper hand in what was a desperately dull game (apparently the first half was labelled the worst half of football of the season so far by the Radio 5 commentary team). As expected, Joey Barton was their key man, shooting just wide on one occasion and forcing Steve Harper, who continues to deputise for Shay Given, into a decent tip-over on another.

In the second half Harper was tested from close range by Bernardo Corradi, and the Italian striker showed an ineptitude in front of goal comparable to that of our forwards in contriving to miss two other presentable headed chances. Meanwhile, his fellow substitute Georgios Samaras had a header disallowed - for once, something to be thankful to Graham Poll for.

Our late flurry was too little too late, and as generally sound as our defence has been recently, we have to be concerned with a first trip to the Emirates Stadium on the horizon - particularly when Arsenal are fresh from a 3-0 mauling of Liverpool and we can't buy a goal.

A Man City fan's perspective: Bitter And Blue

Other reports: BBC, Guardian


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