Cardiff City 3 Man City 2: Three lessons as Campbell causes an upset
Cardiff City 3 Man City 2: What lessons did we learn as Malky Macay's men cause an upset against the Citizens?
Man City’s soft centre exposed by Campbell
It’s well-documented each season that newly-promoted sides need to take their chances in the Premier League if they are to have any chance of survival. Cardiff City are arguably the best-placed amongst the new arrivals from the Championship to retain their top-flight status. Craig Bellamy provides the experience, Gary Medel the guile and Steve Caulker is a calm presence in the back four. Leading the line for Malky Mackay’s men is Fraizer Campbell, who joined the Welsh side from Sunderland in the January transfer window. Coming up against a Manchester City side without skipper Vincent Kompany, Campbell posed a constant threat to makeshift centre-half Javi Garcia. Cardiff attempted to exploit the Spaniard’s lack of pace with long balls but failed to make the most of two first-half opportunities, with Joe Hart thwarting the striker. But he kept going after the interval and played a role in Cardiff’s equaliser as his shot forced a save which fell into the path of Aron Gunnarsson, who tucked his finish under Hart. Campbell, who is a product of Manchester United’s youth system, capped off a promising performance with another from a Peter Whittingham corner before notching his second from an almost identical scenario in a devastating eight-minute spell. After plenty of seasons spent bench-warming at Sunderland and United, Cardiff could have an English striker capable of firing them to safety.
Dzeko rises to Pellegrini’s challenge
Having spent the best part of the 2012-13 campaign being used as an impact substitute, Edin Dzeko would have welcomed the sight of a new manager at The Etihad. However, ahead of Sunday’s match, Manuel Pellegrini warned the Bosnia-Herzegovina striker that he would need to discover his Wolfsburg form if the 27-year-old wanted a long-term future at the Citizens. The City boss said: “I told him that if he wants to stay here we must see the player Manchester City bought two years ago.” Dzeko was one of club’s standout performers in their 4-0 rout of Newcastle in their Premier League opener but was left unrewarded as Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri, Silva and Yaya Toure were among the goals. Dzeko was less effective against Cardiff but the Bosnian was lively off the ball and finally made the breakthrough in the 52nd minute. Alert to a cute lay-off from strike partner Aguero, Dzeko rifled a strike past David Marshall, albeit aided by a deflection. It should provide the striker with the confidence needed to kick on this campaign and justify his £32.5m price tag. Fail to do so, and Alvaro Negredo will be ready to pounce as the Spaniard scored a late consolation from the bench.
Man City served with generous helping of reality
After their 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle United on Monday night led many to tip City for glory this season, Pellegrini’s men were served with a generous helping of reality in Cardiff. The Chilean opted to start with two of his summer signings Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, while Garcia slotted in at centre-half with Kompany sidelined. For all their silky play against the Magpies, City lacked cohesion when faced with Cardiff’s combative style, epitomised by tenacious midfielder Medel. Too often, Silva and Toure were guilty of over-hitting a final ball, while the Aguero-Dzeko partnership needs time to flourish as the pair were clearly not on the same wavelength. For all their possession, City lacked composure in the final third against the Championship winners. But perhaps most alarmingly of all was City’s obvious deficiency defending set-pieces. Faced with Whittingham’s devilish deliveries, the Citizens, and in particular the normally dependable Pablo Zabaleta, were left in disarray as Campbell’s movement proved too cunning for City’s back four. To compound Pellegrini’s misery, Citizens goalkeeper Hart appears to be still suffering a dip in form as the England number one was noticeably absent for both of Campbell’s headed goals.