Well, I'm not sure if I was expecting that. Tribal loyalties mean I'm not on as much of a high as I was after the Newcastle win, but the organisation of our defence and the heart our players proved the seeming ease we are showing to a commitment to possession football from the back make this the most heartening performance from the club in months.
Dropping Jozy Altidore and choosing to pack the midfield stifled Manchester City's movement and limited their options to a number of chances taken from distance or crosses, most of which were easily dealt with. Ki Sung-Yeung being used as a deep-lying midfielder to dictate the pace of the passing at the back was a well worked move with the South Korean using the ball wisely and showing great vision and aptitude. Poyet continued to have faith in Phil Bardsley and he repaid him with an absolutely tremendous performance, scoring a superb goal from an angle, his performance only outshone by the magnificent Wes Brown.
It was these two who were involved with the goal, as Bardsely leaped on to a long pass played forward by Wes Brown, out-muscled James Milner before gliding the awkward ball at a tight angle through the arms of the City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon. Some replays may give you the opinion that the keeper should have dealt with the shot, however you can't take anything against a player who has fought his way back into the side to provide the team with some much needed grit.
Indeed, the entire team showed much grit, but what was most pleasing for me was the ease in which, at least in patches over our games since Poyet's arrival, we are adapting to his possession football. The pace of movement at the back, coupled with the organisation of the play led by a Wes Brown who has to be praised even more when you consider how long he has been out of the game, is heartening.
Obviously, this will mean nothing if we repeat our Hull showing at Stoke City next week. This game, being as it was against what is possibly on paper the best side in the league, was all about keeping precision at the back, and as we try to move the ball forward we still need to have a bit more guile against the teams we need to beat if we are to stay in this league. But this was a win which will improve confidence levels at the club, and hopefully give us a bit of momentum to take into the rest of the season.
Vito Mannone -- 7
Composed and made a spectacular second half save to deny Sergio Aguero.
Ondrej Celustka -- 7
Solid and impressive although some passes were wayward. Did his duty well.
Phil Bardsley -- 9
Took his goal brilliantly, made some absolutely vital blocks and tackles played like a lion. Couldn't possibly be doing more to answer his critics.
Wes Brown -- 9 (MAN OF THE MATCH)
MOM. Pleasure to watch. Kept defence organised, sharp, alert and most importantly relaxed. We never looked like conceding when he was in the box.
John O'Shea -- 8
Another vital part of an excellent defensive performance. Held the line well and kept the shape and pace together around him.
Jack Colback -- 7
Great passing play coupled with important defensive covering, let down by a last minute rush of blood to give away a free kick which could have cost us. Could come of age in Poyet's system.
Ki Sung-Yeung -- 7
Held the ball well and showed some intelligence in passing play. Calm, switched play very well and frustrated Yaya Toure all afternoon. Could become an asset to our midfield.
Sebastian Larsson -- 8
His best game for a long while. Stuck in, made some very important interceptions and lay-offs, the only fault being a particularly bad tackle on Javi Garcia in the first half which could have seen either colour card if the referee was better placed.
Emanuele Giaccherini -- 6
Quiet. Phased out of the game.
Steven Fletcher -- 6
Rather isolated upfront on his own which is somewhat inevitable. Perhaps should have done better with the chances he had but can't be faulted too much.
Adam Johnson -- 6
Showed good drive going forward and caused Manchester City some problems, but made poor decisions servicing Fletcher once or twice.
Craig Gardner -- 6
Came on to strengthen the midfield and did so.
Jozy Altidore -- 6
Brought on to hold the ball in our half, and did what he was asked to do.
Fabio Borini -- N/A
Too little time on the pitch.
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