Wigan 0 Man City 1: Lessons from a scrappy top-versus-bottom clash
What did we learn from Manchester City's nervy 1-0 victory over Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Monday night?
Manchester City show their battling qualities
City responded after demoralising defeats in the Carling Cup and FA Cup with an improved performance against Wigan. The visitors dominated possession in the first half and while they were far from their purring best, the league leaders showed glimpses of the form that ruthlessly tore apart Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United and Stoke City earlier in the season. After an impressive first half, Gareth Barry urged his team-mates to learn to win ugly and it’s exactly what Mancini’s were forced to do as they secured a valuable victory to stay three points clear of Sir Alex Ferguson’s United.
Roberto MartÃnez needs his senior squad members to perform
With Wigan embroiled in a relegation scrap, MartÃnez will be desperate to see his senior players shoulder more responsibility as the Latics look to move off the foot of the table. Antolin Alcaraz was at fault for Edin Dzeko’s opener – the 29-year-old fouled the Bosnian on the left wing before being out-jumped by the striker from the resulting free-kick as he headed past Ali Al-Habsi to grab the winner. Meanwhile, 26-year-old Hugo Rodallega’s goal drought continued as the Columbian was kept quiet by an understrength City defence. MartÃnez can take heart from the display of his two 21-year-olds, however – James McCarthy and Victor Moses were Wigan’s best performers and could be crucial in the relegation battle.
Edin Dzeko back with a bang
Dzeko ended a sequence of 11 games without a goal as he rose highest to nod home David Silva’s brilliant delivery to give City a first-half lead. And the Bosnian could have scored after just five minutes when he glanced a free header wide of Al-Habsi’s left post. Roberto Mancini will be encouraged by the 25-year-old’s work-rate as the tall striker looked to exploit a Wigan defence bereft of confidence. Dzeko could have added to his goal-tally after the break but he was denied by a full-stretch save from Al-Habsi, while minutes later he wasted an excellent opportunity following Sergio Aguero’s meandering run.
Wigan Athletic need to start winning their home games
Wigan have won just once at the DW Stadium this season – shocking form for a club desperate to escape the relegation zone. Since MartÃnez’s side beat Queens Park Rangers 2-0 back in August, Wigan have lost five of their eight matches at home. The Latics rallied after the interval on Monday and pegged City back, with Mancini opting to bring on Nigel de Jong as added defensive cover. But while a committed performance against City is commendable, MartÃnez’s side need to start converting their home advantage into points against their relegation rivals, with Swansea City and Wolverhampton Wanderers yet to make the trip to the DW.
The ungentlemanly side of Roberto Mancini
Roberto Mancini’s unsporting side reared its ugly ahead for the second time in two weeks as the Italian furiously waved an imaginary card on the touchline following Maynor Figueroa deliberate handball. The Wigan defender misjudged an awkward City clearance on the halfway line, raising his fist to divert the ball clear of Aguero, who was set to pounce. Much was made of the Italian’s actions at the Etihad Stadium when the 47-year-old manager did the same after Martin Skrtel conceded a penalty for a reckless challenge on Dzeko during City’s 3-0 victory over Liverpool. The Italian’s actions were defended on that occasion as a mere lapse but the incident on Monday night will surely lead to more questions about Mancini’s sporting conduct.