30-SEC­OND VER­DICT

Wilmslow Express - - CITY LIFE LOCAL -

LAKY at the back, un­con­vinc­ing in mid­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­field, and lack­ing threat in front of goal… and yet City picked up an­other three points!

When a team lead­ing the league wins a game like this, as Chelsea have done sev­eral times re­cently, we get told that this is what cham­pi­ons do – grind out re­sults when they have not played well.

But at the­mo­ment the re­sult is not quite enough for City – their fans are seek­ing re­as­sur­ance, want­ing to know that their ti­tle- win­ning teamof last sea­son is not crum­bling into dust, and needs only re­in­force­ment rather than re- build­ing this sum­mer.

ThThThThThThThThThThThThThThThThey drew lit­tle com­fort fromthis victory, se­cured through a goal­keep­ing howler fromBrad Guzan to present Ser­gio Aguero with an easy opener, from Aleks Ko­larov’s pre­ci­sion free- kick and Fer­nand­inho’s late ac­ro­bat­ics.

ThThThThThThThThe fact that Villa – no great shakes de­spite their fight­back and FA Cup fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­nal place – were able to haul their way back into the game, tells you some­thing about City.

They re­main frag­ile in terms of con­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­dence, as Villa showed by fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fi­fight­ing their way back into the game from2- 0 down.

ThThThThThThThThThis sounds like too much doom and gloom af­ter a run of 11 wins and just one de­feat from their last 14 home league games, but manager Manuel Pel­le­grini was also less than happy with the per­for­mance of his team.

Per­haps he also is look­ing for the green shoots of re­cov­ery in the ashes of a sea­son that promised so much but which has gone up in flflflflflflflames since they shared top spot in the league with Chelsea on New Year’s Day

Maybe the most heart­en­ing as­pect of this game was that City were again handed a big slice of luck, with Guzan’s mis­take pre­sent­ing Aguero with a sim­ple opener.

And TimSher­wood had a valid point when he com­plained that Chris­tian Ben­teke was wrongly flflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflflagged offffffffffffffffffff­side be­fore he was brought down by Joe Hart, shortly be­fore City went up the other end and scored.

ThThThThThThThThThThThere was plenty at stake in this game but for long spells, you would not have thought so, as City me­an­dered their way through the 90 min­utes, only oc­ca­sion­ally in­ject­ing the vim and verve for which they have be­come known in re­cent years.

In the end they were glad for a su­perbly taken Fer­nand­inho goal to win the game. He re­placed ham­string vic­tim Yaya Toure at half- time and is set to re­sume his part­ner­ship with his pal Fer­nando at White Hart Lane next week in a crunch game.

A win in that one would se­cure City’s top four place and with home games against QPR and Southamp­ton sand­wich­ing a trip to Swansea, they should be favourites with United and Ar­se­nal still hav­ing to face each other.

But a win at Spurs, de­spite the fact they have also looked like a team run­ning out of steam, is far froma cer­tainty un­less City can raise their game.

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