City blow the Canaries out the water
By Jack Mumford
City demolished a shambolic Norwich City side by scoring seven for the first time in their Premier League history on a blustery afternoon at the Etihad Stadium. Completing 712 passes in the process, the victory never seemed in doubt for City who were dominant in every aspect.
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Returning to the Etihad which has been such a fortress for the last few seasons after almost a month of away games, City’s array of attacking options just appeared to be too clever and too quick for a hapless Norwich defence.
As rumoured, Costel Pantilimon started in goal ahead of Joe Hart but as you can probably gather from the score line, anyone of the 47,066 crowd could probably have been in net for City. He was forced into one smart diving save in the first half but for the most part he was merely a spectator to the massacre like the rest of us.
The only other change to the side from the last Premier League game at Chelsea last Sunday was Álvaro Negredo partnering Sergio Agüero in place of defensive midfielder Javi Garcia. This side was also the first City starting eleven not to feature an English player since 2002 despite having 4 Englishmen on the bench.
Describing the goals may take a while so maybe I should start now. After already hitting the post through Samir Nasri, City were already looking extremely dangerous when a scramble in the Norwich six-yard box in which Agüero’s instinctive shot hit John Ruddy’s leg before looping back over the English ‘keeper’s head from the knee of midfielder Bradley Johnson.
If this goal was slightly fortunate then the second goal was pure class. Nasri picked the ball up halfway inside his own half and found the lively Agüero exquisitely with his left foot, before the Argentinian striker drove into the box and laid the ball off to David Silva who hit the ball hard and low into the opposite corner of the goal.
City fans only had to wait another five minutes for the third goal which basically confirmed the three points despite the game being only 25 minutes old. Matija Nastasić met a corner powerfully and a deflection left Ruddy scrambling but ultimately failing to reach the ball as it crossed the line.
The flowing football returned for the fourth goal as a delightfully intricate move involving Silva, Yaya Touré and Agüero put the ball on a plate for Negredo who steered home from a few yards out.
City were in cruise control throughout the whole game as the likes of Silva and Fernandinho retained possession brilliantly and won it back almost immediately after Norwich had gained the ball.
Chris Hughton was clearly concerned the score could become embarrassing at half-time after making two changes whereas Pellegrini, potentially considering the visit of CSKA on Tuesday, replaced Negredo with the Newcastle match winner Edin Džeko.
It didn’t halt City’s dominance against a toothless Norwich as they enjoyed near complete possession. A City free kick from 30 yards was taken command of by Yaya Touré and as City fans have been used to seeing this season, he curled it over the wall at pace and found the top corner. Everyone in the stadium knew what Touré was going to do but Norwich were powerless to stop it.
And ten minutes later, a ridiculous piece of skill out wide by Silva opened the slow Norwich defence yet again and his resulting cross eventually fell at the feet of Agüero who hammered home to finally join his teammates on the scoresheet after such an impressive performance.
After the substitutions of Nasri and Silva to standing ovations, Džeko completed the rout with a turn and shot, leaving Ruddy helpless.
Admittedly Norwich put in one of the worst displays seen by a Premier League side in the 10 years at the Etihad, but this was a truly mesmerising City display which showed just how good we can be. If this form can be continued then the rest of the Premier League will be looking on with fear.
69% Possession 31%
27 (10) Shots (on target) 7 (1)
10 Corners 3
6 Fouls 9