Manchester City v Stoke City Barclays Premier League match report 22 February 2014 - Manchester City FC

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  • 22 February 2014 16:52
  • Posted by @markbooth_mcfc

City moved back to within three points of the Barclays Premier League summit with a narrow win over Stoke City.

After the en masse handwringing and the post-mortems carried out after the Barcelona defeat, it was back to the more straightforward and familiar domestic duties for the Blues.

In prospect was a rare Saturday 3pm kick-off against a familiar foe for fans to get their teeth into and an opportunity to build momentum for the Capital One Cup final in eight days.

That said, there was little humdrum about this encounter as City came up against an obdurate Stoke side who produced a spirited, hard-working performance to frustrate the home side for 69 minutes.

However, City did wake from their early drowsiness and Yaya Toure was the hero, notching his team's first goal in two and a half Premier League games, to apply timely salve to healing wounds.

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Everton in the lunchtime kick-off meant that nothing less than a win would suffice for Manuel Pellegrini against a Stoke side unbeaten in three – a fact made obvious with even the most cursory glance at the teamsheet.

With a rare fixture-less midweek ahead, the Chilean was able to name an attacking line-up which showed two changes from the side that started against FC Barcelona.

Back came Samir Nasri in place of Jesus Navas for his first Premier League start since the January win over Newcastle, while Edin Dzeko partnered Alvaro Negredo in attack.

Martin Demichelis remained alongside Vincent Kompany at the heart of defence behind reunited central midfield pairing, Yaya Toure and Fernandinho.

City have won all five Barclays Premier League home meetings with the Potters without conceding a single goal, meaning it was no surprise that Mark Hughes opted to field a five-man midfield of Arnautovic, Whelan, Adam, Odemwingie and Walters, with old City scourge Peter Crouch alone up front.

The Blues have not lost back-to-back Premier League home games since December 2008, so were looking to avoid this unsavoury landmark after gaining only one point from games against Chelsea and Norwich.

Inevitably, the stadium was noticeably a few decibels down on Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League extravaganza, which may have accounted for the languid opening to proceedings.

While City ceded the lion’s share of possession to the Catalan pass-masters, especially when reduced to ten men, this time it was the Blues’ turn to set the tempo and the pattern of the game was set from the early stages.

Deep defensive lines, packed midfields and launching the odd counter raid is a familiar enough gameplan for away teams to adopt at the Etihad and one that brought Stoke some early cause for optimism as they sought at least one point to aid their quest for survival.

"Charlie Adam fizzed a volley just wide of goal after eight minutes and drew a fine save from Joe Hart with another strike from range after 20 minutes."

...City v Stoke...

Fernandinho had a couple of long-range efforts of his own but both were comfortably dealt with by Asmir Begovic in the Stoke goal.

That was almost the sum total of goalmouth incident in a taciturn first-half but Silva’s influence was growing in the closing stages of the period.

The Spaniard was heavily involved in the best moment of the half as he drifted in from the right to find Dzeko who exchanged passes with Negredo and fired inches wide of Begovic’s far post with a right-footed shot.

At the break, City hit 225 minutes without scoring a Premier League goal and the mini-drought showed no real sign of ending when the second half kicked off.

Stoke’s counter-attacks became as rare as clear City chances, meaning there were no gaps for Pellegrini’s men to exploit, prompting the Chilean to introduce Stevan Jovetic and Navas in place of Negredo and Fernandinho with 55 minutes on the clock.

"Those changes forced a reshuffle as the Blues changed up their angle of attack, with Silva now tasked with playing as the no.10 behind the strikers."

...City v Stoke...

Jovetic had a brilliant attempt at breaking this stalest of stalemates with a ferocious drive which Begovic spilled but there were no takers for the rebound.

Unfortunately, that was the Montenegrin’s last act as the substitute was replaced by Javi Garcia, just ten minutes after entering the fray.

Then came the moment which finally brought fans inside the Etihad Stadium to their feet, when Yaya Toure clipped home Kolarov’s cross from close range with 20 minutes to play.

Begovic managed to get a hand on the strike but was unable to prevent the Ivorian’s 16th goal of the season.

The effect of the goal was obvious on the pattern of play, as all of a sudden, City could seemingly cut apart Hughes’s side at will.

Four minutes later, it should have been two but Dzeko passed up the opportunity to tap Navas’s cross into the empty net from six yards out and, seconds later, Garcia saw his stinging drive beaten away by Stoke’s Bosnian keeper.

However, City would have to be content with just the one goal which in the end proved to be enough for the points.

Next stop: Wembley.

Match details

Saturday 22 February 2014, 3:00PM

Etihad Stadium Att:47,038
Barclays Premier League

Referee:
Chris Foy

Teams

Manchester City:

Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernandinho (Navas 62mins), Yaya Toure, Nasri, Silva, Dzeko, Negredo (Jovetic 56mins) (Garcia 68mins)

Unused subs:
Pantilimon, Lescott, Clichy, Milner

Bookings:
Kompany 14mins, Fernandinho 30mins, Dzeko 90mins

Stoke City:

Begovic, Pieters, Wilson, Shawcross, Cameron, Arnautovic (Palacios 67mins), Whelan (Etherington 81mins), Adam, Odemwingie, Walters (Ireland 77mins), Crouch

Unused subs:
Sorensen, Muniesa, Wilkinson, Nzonzi

Bookings:
Adam 33mins

All times are taken from a live feed and are approximate at time of publishing.

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