Review of 2011: December
- 10 January 2012 15:23
- Posted by Alex Rowen
Though Champions League disappointment would soon follow, City concluded 2011 with their sights firmly set on both domestic and European success.
Newly promoted Norwich City fell to a 5-1 drubbing at the Etihad as the Blues put in a sparkling display to extend their unbeaten home record to a massive 50 weeks. Not since the visit of Everton in December 2011 had Roberto Mancini’s side tasted defeat on home turf and Norwich never truly posed a threat to that incredible record.
So dominant was City’s display that Mario Balotelli was able to score the cheekiest of goals with his shoulder as the Blues remained atop the Premier League table.
The club’s inevitable Champions League exit followed when despite beating German giants Bayern Munich 2-0, the Blues slipped into the Europa League. The Blues knew prior to kick off that in order to progress into the knock-out stages of Europe’s elite competition, they must not only overcome the Group A leaders, but also rely on bottom club Villarreal to avoid defeat against the impressive Napoli. Unfortunately, two second half goals for the Italian club ensured their progression at City’s expense.
The European draws continued to be unkind, even at Europa League level, pitting Mancini’s men against holders Porto in the first knock-out round. Victory against the 2004 European Champions would the see the Citizens face either Porto’s league rivals Sporting Lisbon or Polish outfit Legia Warsaw.
Having gone 14 games without defeat, City’s unbeaten domestic run came to an end upon the Blues’ visit to Stamford Bridge. Mario Balotelli’s second minute opener and the sparkling twenty minutes football that followed had City looking likely to steam roll their Chelsea opposition, but after losing the dismissed Gael Clichy early in the second half and then conceding a penalty, the Blues tasted defeat for the first time during the 2011/12 campaign.
Meanwhile, the FA Cup 3rd round draw set up a repeat of last year’s semi-final with Manchester United and had fans dreaming of a repeat of the club’s earlier 6-1 demolition.
Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero were all nominated for the UEFA Team of the Year and all five were in attendance as City ensured the Christmas number one spot with a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in one of the most enthralling games of the year.