City began 2011 where they left off in 2010.
The glut of goals that some may have expected to usher in 2011 may not have materialised, but City nevertheless carved out three more important points with a one-goal victory over a plucky Blackpool outfit.
The margin should have been greater and the Blues missed several good chances, most notably when Carlos Tevez missed a penalty in the first half. At the other end Joe Hart made several good saves that ultimately proved to be crucial with his outfield colleagues failing to increase the lead.
Roberto Mancini rang the changes once again, making four alterations to the side that had started so impressively against Aston Villa. The full backs changed, with Kolarov and Boateng replacing Zabaleta and Richards, Barry was back for Vieira and Tevez returned up front. A knee injury forced Mario Balotelli to the sidelines, bad luck for the enigmatic Italian after bagging a hat-trick just a few days earlier.
October’s highly-entertaining game at Bloomfield Road had set a good standard and the New Year ’s Day return started off in a similar vein, with Tevez rolling a shot across goal within seconds of the start. Taylor-Fletcher’s similar chance at the other end soon after served City a warning that the Tangerines were, as promised, going to give it a lash as their impressive away record already showed.
The visitors stayed on the front foot for most of the opening 20 minutes, with Joe Hart denying Taylor-Fletcher with a flying save to his left after quarter of an hour. Silva and Tevez linked up well a touch later, but the Spanish World Cup winner poked his shot just wide.
Maybe having bagged his only league goal against Ian Holloway’s side was inspiring the new crowd favourite, as he saw subsequent shots go straight at Kingson and fly just wide.
A smart turn and pass from Yaya Toure released Tevez just after the half hour and his rising shot brought a good save out of Blackpool’s Ghanaian keeper.
City had been a touch disjointed, and the home crowd a bit restless, but then a dramatic passage of play livened up proceedings. Taylor-Fletcher headed a corner directly to Adam Johnson outside the area, and his drilled shot took a deflection off Crainey to wrong-foot Kingson before nestling in the net.
It should have been 2-0 seconds later when Mark Clattenburg awarded a penalty for Varney’s foul on Yaya Toure.
Astonishingly, Carlos Tevez did not even the hit the target with his spot-kick and City were left to hope that this rarer than Halley’s Comet event would not have a larger bearing on the result.
The Blues pressed for the two-goal cushion they should have had after the break, with de Jong’s shot being blocked for a corner. That eventually came back to Johnson, and his high-velocity cross was a touch too far ahead of Tevez.
Substitute Matt Phillips eluded Kolarov and forced Hart to make another important block, before City returned to the other end with Tevez curling a decent shot just wide of Kingson’s left hand post.
The lead was still all-too-slender, and Hart had to be on the money again after a Lescott error forced him to race out of his box and use his feet.
Kompany was in the right place seconds later to head a dangerous Phillips cross away, before Tevez wasted a golden opportunity to double the lead after doing the hard work to get round Kingson.
Silva was forced off after a hefty challenge on the hour, and his replacement, James Milner, set up another gilt-edged chance for the skipper with 16 minutes left. The cross from the left fell invitingly but the Argentinean once again failed to hit the target.
The narrow margin encouraged the visitors, and Eardley stung Hart’s fingers with a rasping shot that had to be turned over. Tevez shot just wide in stoppage time, summing up his day but thankfully the Blues stayed solid at the back and came away with their third win in a row.