In the end the scoreline did not reflect the overall dominance that Roberto Mancini’s side displayed on the day. It was a wasteful effort from both Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. While the duo combined for 8 shots, only three were on target and only Dzeko managed to score. Aguero spurned the best chance on of the match late on, dragging his 85′ effort wide after a nice bit of work from Milner. Not much to do but head in hands and be thankful that one didn’t cost the side two points.
This match marked a second consecutive start and third outing on the bounce for Stefan Savic, in for the suspended Kompany. While it was Savic’s error that gifted Liverpool a penalty in the semi-final, in this match he played well. He completed 32 of 36 passes, successfully cleared the ball on three of six attempts (Man City attempted 31 as a team, finding success 15 times, six of those from Lescott) and contested the most aerial duels of anyone in the side. He won 4 of the 8 aerial duels, adding 7 wins from 14 ground duels and winning his only tackle. Perhaps not remarkable, but an important performance in a side that is suddenly short on depth at the back.
The stars of the match were David Silva and Samir Nasri. Through the first 45′ that duo had created 5 of City’s 6 chances, and had combined to complete 69 of 77 passes in open play. Their dominance continued into the second half. At the time that he has removed from the match Samir Nasri was leading all players in both passes attempted and completed. After 73′ Nasri had completed 49/52 (94%) of open play passes and was a perfect 6/6 connecting on crosses. Additionally he won his only tackle and created 5 chances. The only part of his game which was substandard was the 27% win rate on 50/50’s.
By the time David Silva was withdrawn he had surpassed him teammate’s passing numbers. For the day Silva played 82′, completing 50/57 passes in open play (88%) and one of two crosses. He created 3 chances, including the only goal of the day – scored by Dzeko from a Silva set piece. Silva was not as successful directly attacking the Wigan defense. He embarked on four dribbles but was ultimately unsuccessful with each. Nasri was more proficient with the ball at his feet, with three successful dribbles on three attempts.
This marked a second consecutive match against Wigan which was dominated by the diminutive Spaniard. Silva bossed the first meeting between these clubs from the midfield. He completed 89% of his 79 passes in that match, creating 5 chances and assisting on 2 of the 3 goals that City scored in their 3-0 victory. Silva’s assist in this match raised his total on the year to 11, four more than the next best return in the EPL. For his own part, Nasri sits joint second behind Silva with 7 assists. Nasri’s have come in just 1018′ with the new arrival contributing 43 chances created, one for every 24′ of pitch time in the League. Between the two they constitute the most potent midfield duo currently playing in the EPL, and one which Roberto Mancini may choose to unleash against another world class midfield when City play Spurs next weekend.
For their part, Wigan was not outplayed by much in this match, though the scoreline was a just result. While Man City held a clear advantage in class and possession (53.9% to 46.1%), the Latics were proficeint with the ball when they held it. As the first half ended 1-0, several Latics players were playing the ball well through midfield. Victor Moses had already attempted 8 runs at the City defense, with 5 successful dribbles to his credit. Moses ended the match with 6. Moses, it should be noted, also drew four fouls in the first half as City had their difficulties coping with his performance. He also completed 83% of his passes through 45′, albeit on just 12 attempts, and finished the game 18/21. In the final third the club lacked class. Of the 3 first half shots they attempted only 1 was on target. This was followed up in the second half with 1 for 4 effort. In fact, Wigan’s overall passing also declined sharply both in the second half of the match and the further the traveled from Al Habsi’s goal. For the match Wigan was passing 160/185 (86%) in their own end but just 178/261 (68%) in the Man City end.
This was another important three points for Roberto Mancini. While every League match counts the same, following losses to Manchester United and Liverpool in the FA and Carling Cups, respectively, this win moved them back three points above United and five clear of Tottenham while reminding the rest of the Premier League who is top. Still without Vincent Kompany (suspended) and both Yaya and Kolo Toure away at the Africa Cup of Nations, City fans can be happy about a hard fought win while knowing that another wasteful performance next weekend against Tottenham could throw the club into the middle of a three team fight for the title.