City break away duck with solid victory
By Jack Mumford
City slayed their away demons last night, powering past a shell-shocked West Bromwich Albion to win 3-2, with a late onslaught from West Brom making the scoreline a more respectable one. After losing four of the six away Premier League games so far this season, City knew they had to improve their away form to stand a chance of winning the title.
West Brom have already won at Old Trafford and drawn at Stamford Bridge this season so City’s comprehensive victory is no mean feat.
Manuel Pellegrini made three changes from Sunday's victory over Swansea. The major news was captain Vincent Kompany returned to the side after two months out with a thigh injury. Joleon Lescott was the unfortunate man who had to make way for the returning Belgian.
Aleksandar Kolarov replaced Gaël Clichy, whilst Edin Džeko made his first league start since September in place of Álvaro Negredo to complete the line-up. Pellegrini stuck with his trusted 4-2-2-2 formation that has become a trademark in his career.
Kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to congestion around the ground but when the game finally got underway City certainly showed they were eager to get straight on with the job in hand.
The Blues dominated early proceedings at a subdued Hawthorns with Samir Nasri and Sergio Agüero both going close in the opening minutes.
The game was eight minutes in when City took their deserved lead. Džeko played the ball behind West Brom full back Liam Ridgewell into the path of Pablo Zabaleta who cut the ball back to Agüero for the prolific Argentinian to fire into the roof of the net.
Only 15 minutes later and with Costel Pantilimon yet to make a meaningful save, City came forward yet again through Nasri who laid the ball off to Kolarov to drill a cross which Yaya Touré opened his body to and guided into the far corner. The Baggies looked at each other quizzically, presumably fearing what was to come.
Half time came and several chances had passed but all at one end. Agüero, Džeko and Fernandinho all had chances to extend the lead but wasteful finishing meant Steve Clarke's side were still in the game.
West Brom showed slightly more promise in the second half but this is always to be expected when playing away at a Premier League ground. However, despite West Brom’s improvement, City still created the best chances and Pantilimon still remained largely a spectator.
With around 18 minutes to play, the dangerous Kolarov was hauled down in the box by Claudio Yacob. Chris Foy pointed to the spot and Touré immediately claimed the ball. The Ivorian midfielder powered the ball down the centre of the goal to truly end the match.
A late Zoltán Gera shot which deflected off Pantilimon gave the score line a hint of respectability before Victor Anichebe added another late goal to give a gloss to the score that the home side didn’t truly deserve.
The Blues travel to Southampton on Saturday having finally given fans a reason to cheer their away form and incentive to make the long journey to the South coast. Many of the other big teams in the Premier League are struggling to put a run of results together (barring Arsenal) and City are now looking ominous as they chase the league title.
City West Brom
59% Possession 41%
14 (5) Shots (on target) 11 (1)
3 Corners 3
10 Fouls 8