Newsletter #1790

Well what a corker Sunday’s game was. The relentless pace, speed and skill of all 22 players was really quite something. From a purist’s perspective, arguably the game of the season.

Some great articles tonight, reflecting back on the match, the penalty that wasn’t at Stamford Bridge, the fan experience, a song for the terraces, plus requests (someone please help Matt Maxey… it’s his third post!).

And finally, thanks to Alex for his comments from Carmen Young to wrap up this issue.

Right, after the ying of Arsenal, bring on the yang of Stoke!

Next Game: Stoke City, Home, 7.45pm, 21 December 2011


City won a pulsating game against a resurgent Arsenal to maintain our two point lead at the top of the Premier League.

This was a classic game of football by any standards with two very good teams going all out for victory. Make no mistake: this was not the same Arsenal that lost 8-2 at Old Trafford. They had been unbeaten in eight league games prior to this match and it is easy to why. As ever under Wenger, they play great attacking football, but he seems to be sorting his defence out, even if he had to play two centre backs at full back.

This was a brilliant end-to-end match of the highest quality that will live long in the memory. It was freezing inside the Etihad but this game was so exciting that we barely noticed the sub-zero temperatures. City dominated the first 15 minutes and should have taken the lead after just 8. Barry played a glorious ball behind Arsenal right back Djourou for Zabaleta who crossed smartly. Agüero cushioned the ball superbly but shot over when it seemed easier to score, and he knew it.

One thing was clear: as much as Arsenal have improved defensively, they can still be opened up and City have the guile and variation in attack to do this. Nasri, whose every touch was booed by the Arsenal fans, then played in David Silva cleverly down the inside left channel. Silva, who had instinctively found the merest space to receive the ball, took a touch away from goal and turned smartly but his shot was smothered by Sczcesny.

Such was the nature of this wonderful match though, that it was then City’s turn to go onto the back foot as Arsenal had a significant spell. Song played in Gervinho down the right and his sharp, angled shot was thankfully saved by the effervescent Hart at his near post. From the resultant corner, he had to repeat the feat from a Ramsey shot after he nipped in ahead of Yaya on the edge of the box. Arsenal had most definitely come to win, and there was no doubting that they had the armoury to do so.

The chances kept coming at either end in a thrilling white knuckle ride of a game. Nasri found Richards on the right, the City right back crossed, Silva flicked on, and Balotelli took one touch, swivelled and shot goalwards, but Sczcesny was on hand to stop his close range effort. Back came the visitors: Ramsey crossed but van Persie was wide of the mark with his shot.

City and Arsenal fans traded wind-ups: “van Persie is ours… you’re our feeder club… van Persie is ours” chimed City. Ouch! “Champions’ League, you’re having a laugh” came the retort from the visitors. No quarter given! Actually it was all pretty good natured stuff, as it normally is with Arsenal.

Roberto Mancini had City set up perfectly to defend the threat of Arsenal’s quickfire attacks. There was a concern that Walcott would skin Zabaleta at every opportunity down our left, and Mancini ensured that either Kompany or Barry was on hand to cover him. In any case, Zaba had a storming good game, reading Walcott’s intentions superbly and making a series of interceptions to snuff out the England winger’s threat.

Kolo Touré, who was preferred to Lescott, was forced to make a superb last-ditch tackle to deny Ramsey after a super Arsenal challenged the centre of our defence.

With a superbly balanced midfield of Song and the particularly impressive Ramsey, we had our work cut out to stop them. Our midfield matched them for skill and endeavour. Ably assisted by Yaya Touré, Gareth Barry was on hand to mop up and clear the danger and start attacks. In front of them, Silva and Nasri relished their playmaking duties, dazzling us with their highly skilled interplay. They both like to play infield, playing delightful short passes, followed by a dart into a pocket of space. Not only did they bring the best out of each other, but their team mates too.

Agüero created another chance for himself to score. Exchanging passes with Silva on the edge of the box, he ran across the area, forcing Sczcesny to make another save. Mancini made an inspired tactical adjustment after the break, pushing Mario Balotelli out into a wider left-sided role, evening up the numbers in midfield (not that we had looked outnumbered), and this was to pay dividends when the winning goal came in the 51st minute. It seemed like Mario was not paying attention on the left flank as Nasri played a superb ball out in front of him (Mario would probably have been offside had he been fully awake!).

Mario ran down the left flank, cut inside, shot so low and hard that Sczcesny couldn’t hold it. The ball looped up, Agüero flicked it across goal in a flash and Silva swept in with his right foot. The Etihad erupted at the sight of this vital goal. Maybe it wasn’t quite a case of “We’ll score when we want” in this game, but hey, it doesn’t half sound good when we’ve taken the lead!

Poznan celebrations had barely finished when Arsenal tried to hit back, but the brilliant Hart was on hand to tip over Walcott’s drive that had been heading for the top corner. It wasn’t going to be easy!

Van Persie found the net with a superb swivel and chip after good work by Ramsey and Gervinho but he was ruled offside. TV replays later showed that we might have enjoyed a little luck as it was a close run thing as to whether Kompany was possibly playing him onside. We’ll take that… especially after Chelsea!

Indeed, this game was a treat for adrenalin junkies. Nasri tried to dance through three Arsenal defenders on the edge of the box and the ball broke to Agüero who shot just wide with a rasping low shot. City had the bit between their teeth and another intricate move of highest class tested the visitors. Silva sliced open the Arsenal defence with a delicious pass through the inside right position. It was so frustrating that Nasri’s cross was just too far in front of Balotelli, who was on hand at the far post.

We knew Arsenal had the quality to test us and this increased the excitement (and quickened the pulse somewhat!). We just couldn’t relax as Arsenal went back down the other end and threatened again: this time Gervinho crossed from the left and van Persie’s low shot was held by Hart.

It was scintillating stuff all right. Zabaleta hit the post with a long range shot. Such is his popularity, he would have brought the house down had he scored!

Hart made a brilliant instinctive save from a van Persie header. The Dutchman was ruled offside, but the save, like the Arsenal striker, was top drawer nevertheless.

City just couldn’t quite put the game to bed. Nasri played another incisive ball through for Richards but the right back’s cross managed to find anyone but a City player. Micah should have wrapped it all up immediately after but he stabbed tamely wide after great work and a super cross from the left by Silva.

The tension remained right to the end. Arteta played a free kick to Vermaelen in the centre and his 22 yard drive forced Hart to tip over. Phew! Van Persie then played the Belgian in again but his curling shot just whistled past the post!

Indeed it was a relief when Phil Dowd blew his whistle. It had been a titanic contest.

Arsenal are the best team we have faced so far this season. It is a measure of City’s quality, skill and strength of character that the City players have bounced back to beat such a high quality team after the twin setbacks of going out of Europe and losing our first League game at Chelsea.

Dare we say that it? It’s the sort of response that champions produce.

City deserve to be top. City are playing football to dream of, and this game was another example of that. It was a landmark game when City showed that we are a contender who stands up in the face of adversity. Not that we will be resting on our laurels. Stoke, who have won their last four league games, will present a different kind of test. They have a poor record here but Roberto Mancini will not take that for granted. We will need a strong side out to beat them on Wednesday. After all, our next game in the League at least, is our most important game.

Att 47,303

Hart: A heroic performance. A string of match-winning saves makes his performance a perfect 10
Richards: Ever the athlete, thrilling in attack and resolute in defence: 8
Kompany: Another brilliant towering performance from the City captain. Colossal defending both in the air and on the ground, and played his part in setting up attacks too, taking a few kicks for his troubles Where would we be without him? 10
Kolo Touré: Read the game superbly and competed really well in his best game in a City shirt: 9
Zabaleta: Another heroic performance. We needn’t have worried about his duel against the pacy Walcott, because he read the game superbly and rendered the England winger completely ineffectual on Arsenal’s right flank (Walcott’s only moment of note coming when he drifted into a central position, away from Zaba!). Chose his moments to attack, teeing up Agüero early on and went very close with an effort of his own: 9
Barry: Another brilliant, all action performance in the City engine room. Top drawer: 10
Yaya Touré: Ran himself to a standstill literally. Hopefully his injury will not keep him out: 8
Silva: Forever bright and inventive, City’s elusive butterfly is a joy to watch. He popped up everywhere including in the full back positions to make tackles. Showed his steel to win the ball in midfield too and great positional play to be on hand to score the winner: 9
Nasri: Roberto Mancini asked for more and he delivered, revelling in his partnership with Silva. Also belied the Arsenal boo-boys to lace the game with lovely skill and purposeful passing, winning the Official man-of-the match in the process (the Arsenal section was silent!): 9
Agüero: Should have scored early on, but ever the team player, he played his full part in this victory, the crowning moment being his instinctive flick to set up Silva for the winner: 8
Balotelli: Took a while to get into the game, but when he did, he made an impact: 8
Milner (for Balotelli 72): slotted in well: 7
De Jong (for Yaya 85), Dzeko (for Nasri 85): both n/a

Man of the Match: Joe Hart, for his bravery, brilliant reflex saves and also for his much improved distribution that has been evident this season.

Best Oppo: Thomas Vermaelen: Playing out position at left back but still gave a very good account of himself. Looked brilliant going forward too and went as close as any to scoring for the Gunners: 9

van Persie Watch: Showed us many classy touches as usual and looked like a true leader on the pitch. With better finishing he may have snatched a point: 8

Refwatch: Phil Dowd: Got most things right. Missed Mertesacker’s forearm in Agüero face, though and fell for the German defender’s theatrics on one occasion. Otherwise, pretty good: 8


Not only that… but relegation has been avoided with us passing the 40 point mark! It’s not so long ago that 40 points seemed such a long way away at Christmas, so it is all the more pleasurable to enjoy what we have now.

It was a good atmosphere on the walk, or should I say, skid on the ice, back to the railway station. As disappointed as they were to lose, Arsenal fans we talked to were good natured and sporting in defeat. It is not so long ago that we wanted Arsenal to win the title rather than They might not like City buying their best players, but several conversations with them reveals a shared pattern of thought, and indeed a role reversal from previous years: now they’d much rather we win the title than you-know-who! Let’s hope we make it reality.

Phil Banerjee <phil.banerjee(at)>


This question comes up all the time… and don’t say when it’s in the penalty area either!

I always thought that you had to intentionally play at the ball with your hand/lower arm for it to be a penalty, but now it seems this has changed? Now it’s up to the referee’s interpretation on when it’s a penalty or not. The point in question was Lescott giving a penalty away when the ball was smashed against his arm from a reasonably short distance away.

The rules are there, but are they being used properly? Not moaning because we lost as after the first 20 minutes we didn’t deserve to win. I put this question to a forum I’m on, and got so many different answers, that is makes you wonder if the referees know what the right answer is also as there’s been some pretty dubious penalties awarded this season.

Have a great Christmas everyone.

Kevin Williamson <scribbs(at)>


This game lived up to its billing, with both teams playing some very good football.

The accolades always seem to go to the strikers but in this game I think that the team captain of City, Vincent Kompany, played an inspiring game.

We could go on by mentioning many names but runner up also goes to a defender. Pablo Zabaleta played well in defence and nearly pulled off a great goal when he hit a post.

Special mention has to go to Joe Hart who pulled off some world class saves, I have to say that the Gooners’ goalkeeper also had a good game.

It was a game that never stopped in action from end to end.

The City goal came after the Gooner ‘keeper could only stop a fierce shot from Mario Balotelli and not hold on to the ball; the ever lively David Silva was close and shot home the winner.

Manchester City deserved the win and in fact City should have scored more goals, a very crucial game to maintain City at the top of the League.

A great team performance, every City player played well.

Come on you Blues!

Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I have had the luxury recently of a stint of ‘gardening leave’, so after putting my Vancouver house in order, so to speak, I bid the wife farewell and caught a flight to Manchester to spend time with my Manc family and watch City live at Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, plus the home games against Norwich and Bayern Munich. Since leaving Manchester twenty years ago I have become used to watching City and football in general on the telly, with amazing camera angles and instant slow motion replays, and it was interesting for me to watch five high profile matches ‘live’ in fifteen days. My comments relate to the aspects of the match day experience, rather than detailed analysis of City’s performances.

Firstly, I agree with Peter Llewellyn on the penalty appeal surrounding David Silva at Chelsea. I was sat in the lower tier of the West Stand with Chelsea fans (free pair of season tickets, in exchange for not wearing colours or openly cheering for City). It may look like a penalty after analysis of video replays, but when it happened it did appear that Silva made the most of the challenge. City had lots of impressive possession, especially early on, but had very few scoring chances. The sending off was reminiscent of the match at Anfield. We could have easily lost at Anfield if it was not for Joe Hart, and without a penalty I doubt that Chelsea would have scored a winner. I was disappointed at losing the unbeaten record at Chelsea but we could easily have lost at Anfield a fortnight earlier. Once Mancini brought on Kolo Touré for Agüero then de Jong for Silva there was zero chance that we were going to win at Stamford Bridge.

What made me realise how far City have progressed, while sitting with the Chelsea fans, was echoed by a City fan in a recent MCIVTA where Liverpool fans were chuffed with their draw at Anfield. I recall the three-, four- or five-nil losses at Maine Road in the 1980s. Towards the end of the match at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were wasting time and at the final whistle their fans reacted as if Chelsea had won a major trophy. I was happy with the compliment. We will gain revenge on the pitch in Manchester in March. I love the ‘Poznan’, which is City’s adopted terrace signature in English football (as were the inflatables more than twenty years ago; who remembers the paddling pool and Frankenstein at an amazing Tuesday night nothing game at West Brom in 1989? ED – I do, and I saw them from the West Brom end, quite a sight!), but I have to admit to being impressed by Chelsea fans’ reaction to ‘One Step Beyond’ over the PA after the final whistle.

The atmosphere at the matches I attended, at four of the top six clubs in the Premier League, was average. City have tried to improve the atmosphere at The Etihad by moving away fans during CL matches to the third tier of the East Stand but it did not have a positive impact for the noise from City fans IMO. Bayern fans easily provided the majority of the crowd noise.

I have attended matches in Brazil and the atmosphere is amazing, even when the stadium is half-full. They even keep up the noise during half-time. City fans reported back from Naples stating that the noise inside the stadium was like nothing they experience in the Premier League. The same is true for many eastern European teams, e.g., Lech Poznan. I was even impressed by the relentless and catchy songs sung by the Seattle Sounders support at the Vancouver Whitecaps during the last MLS season.

My point is that whether you want standing sections over all-seater stadia, or try to create dedicated singing sections, English football fans today do not make the noise or get as openly excited as supporters in continental Europe or the Americas. This does not mean they are lesser supporters – I have season tickets despite living thousands of miles away, get to every City match I can and anyone who knows me would describe ‘Manchester City’ as one of the top three items if asked to describe my passions. I am nothing special – tens of thousands of City fans (and Liverpool, United, Chelsea, Spurs, etc.) are the same.

There is something cultural, and/or behavioural, that makes us jump up and down less and sing less than Johnny Foreigner. I find that I’m stressed at the match, rather than bouncing in my seat (unless we are 4-0 up after half-an-hour; then I go to the bar for an extra pint). City fans around me in the third tier of the East Stand tend to moan from the kick-off rather than support, as they did in the old Main Stand at Maine Road, irrespective of whether are top of the league or trying to avoid relegation.

I’d appreciate feedback from a sociologist who has studied the phenomenon! Do other City fans that go to every home game find that they have moaners within ear-shot? My personal conclusion is that City are wasting their time trying to create singing sections. If the crowd are up for it, for whatever reason (sunny day, extra beer drunk, need to win such as against Hamburg, Spurs for CL spot, United in any match, etc.), then the atmosphere will be special.

Typically though, the atmosphere is flat at most of the larger stadia in the Premier League. The Vancouver Whitecaps try to create atmosphere with tunes over the PA (it is worse at the Canucks’ hockey), song-sheets, fans with megaphones on step-ladders at the front and even a coloured flag system so that other fans around the stadium know what song to sing. I hope we do not come to that.

Finally, the moaning fans that I sit around at City are no different to the moaners at all English football stadia (plenty in the West Stand at Chelsea last Monday night). There is such limited genuine support for the national team from the fans, the media and even the overpaid prima donna players today that I’m not surprised that England never fails to underwhelm at international tournaments. Why is there no ‘barmy army’ following the England football team? What’s wrong with us?

Neil Adshead <neil.adshead(at)>


After working all day, I got home, made a beef stew, and threw some bits of beef to my Beagle Miss Penny; as I threw them I shouted out “Hot! Hot!” Miss Penny, being a Blue dog, ran right away to a photo of Manchester City; I had to explain to the dog that the meat was hot too!

May I take this opportunity to wish the new Editor and staff at McV, and all the readers across the world, a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy Blue New Year!

Not forgetting Heidi and her family!

Stay Blue!

CTWD, Ernie Barrow <Britcityblue(at)>


I’ve had a few beers whilst typing this, but wasn’t it Widzew Lodz that beat us on away goals in 1977, not Legia Warsaw?

(ED – Completely correct Phill, it was Widzew Lodz who beat us; Legia Warsaw provided the late, great Kaziu Deyna)

Phill Gatenby <gatenbyp(at)>


Hi Guys, I came up with this whilst making breakfast today.

If too late to get to the masses tomorrow, perhaps suitable to sing around your table(s), after Christmas lunch.

To the tune of Louis Armstrong’s “It’s A Wonderful World”.

I see skies of blue, And clouds of white, They’re City’s colours, So I’m feeling bright, And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”.

I saw Yaya score, Down Wembley Way, It meant much more, Than I can say, And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”.

All the fans doing The Poznan, So happy in the ground, The coaching staff, The players, Turning things around. Khaldoon & the sheik They have what it takes, We’re all saying, City – We(I) Love You!

We hear Fergie cry, ‘Cause he’s watched us grow, We’ll be much better, Than he’ll ever know, And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”.

Yes I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”. Oh yeah.

Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Come on you Blues.

Pat Knowles <patricknowles(at)>


Urgent Plea!

I’m urgently after a second world class centre back. Kolo, Micah, Savic and Lescott have all shown to be missing something (physicality, spacial awareness, experience and a real pair of feet instead of two left pegs).

Does anyone have any knowledge of Nedum?

Did he do something wrong at Sunderland?

Paul Hunt <paul.h.a.hunt(at)>



I’m looking for tickets for West Brom away on Boxing Day. Four would be ideal, but failing that, would happily buy two or three. Can collect in and around Manchester area.

Matthew <matthewmaxey(at)>


I’m moving to Bristol mid-January and would love to hear from anyone who can recommend a decent pub, selling a decent pint of good ale, where I can watch City in the company of other Blues.

It’s been a long time since Granddad took me to my first City match at Maine Road – 1968 3rd FA Cup, 0-0 draw with Reading. City played in their all-maroon away strip, apparently because Reading turned up with only their home kit. The match was no great shakes, but I was hooked, and the 7-0 win in the replay later that week confirmed that Granddad was right and this was the best City team for years!

Seems like that all over again, and we are gonna win the league (again!).

Paul Seville <ps1786(at)>


City released a CD a number of years ago with the City song on it, ‘The Mancunian Way’.

My lads love it but they’ve also managed to scratch it.

Does anyone have an unwanted copy of this CD with City songs/anthems on it? If you have a spare or unwanted one it would keep 2 boys happy and help with car sing-alongs!

Ricky Vallance <rvallance(at)>


I had a very long chat with Carmen Young who is still grieving over the loss of her husband and our legend, Neil Young.

Despite her great sadness, Carmen asked me to once again pass on her thanks to all who supported the ‘Neil Young Appeal’, bought the Red & Black scarves and those who sent her messages of support, cards etc. at her sad loss.

On behalf of Carmen, thank you very much, diamonds every one of you.

Alex Channon <alexchannon81(at)>


18 December 2011

Queens Park Rangers  0 - 2  Manchester United     18,033
Aston Villa          0 - 2  Liverpool             37,460
Tottenham Hotspur    1 - 0  Sunderland            36,021
Manchester City      1 - 0  Arsenal

17 December 2011

Blackburn Rovers     1 - 2  West Bromwich Albion  22,909
Everton              1 - 1  Norwich City          31,004
Fulham               2 - 0  Bolton Wanderers      25,643
Newcastle United     0 - 0  Swansea City          51,767
Wolverhampton Wndrs  1 - 2  Stoke City            24,684
Wigan Athletic       1 - 1  Chelsea

League table to 18 December 2011 inclusive

                            HOME          AWAY        OVERALL
                    P  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L  F  A  W  D  L   F   A  GD Pts
 1 Manchester City 16  8  0  0 25  4  5  2  1 25 11 13  2  1  50  15  35  41
 2 Manchester Utd  16  6  1  1 23 11  6  2  0 14  3 12  3  1  37  14  23  39
 3 Tottenham H.    15  6  0  1 16  7  5  1  2 15 11 11  1  3  31  18  13  34
 4 Chelsea         16  6  0  2 21 12  4  2  2 13  7 10  2  4  34  19  15  32
 5 Arsenal         16  6  1  1 14  5  3  1  4 17 19  9  2  5  31  24   7  29
 6 Liverpool       16  3  5  0 10  6  5  0  3 10  7  8  5  3  20  13   7  29
 7 Newcastle Utd   16  4  3  1 10  8  3  3  2 11 11  7  6  3  21  19   2  27
 8 Stoke City      16  4  2  2 12  9  3  1  4  6 16  7  3  6  18  25  -7  24
 9 Norwich City    16  4  2  2 16 12  1  3  4  9 17  5  5  6  25  29  -4  20
10 Aston Villa     16  3  2  3 10  9  1  5  2  8 12  4  7  5  18  21  -3  19
11 Fulham          16  3  3  2 14  9  1  3  4  4  9  4  6  6  18  18   0  18
12 Swansea City    16  4  3  1 10  2  0  3  5  6 18  4  6  6  16  20  -4  18
13 West Brom A.    16  2  1  5  7 11  3  2  3  9 13  5  3  8  16  24  -8  18
14 Everton         15  2  2  4  8 10  3  0  4  8  9  5  2  8  16  19  -3  17
15 QPR             16  1  4  3  6 12  3  0  5  9 16  4  4  8  15  28 -13  16
16 Sunderland      16  2  3  3 12 10  1  2  5  6  9  3  5  8  18  19  -1  14
17 Wolves          16  3  1  4 11 13  1  1  6  6 17  4  2 10  17  30 -13  14
18 Wigan Athletic  16  1  3  4  9 16  2  1  5  6 14  3  4  9  15  30 -15  13
19 Blackburn R.    16  2  0  6 11 17  0  4  4 12 19  2  4 10  23  36 -13  10
20 Bolton Wndrs    16  1  0  7 10 21  2  0  6 10 17  3  0 13  20  38 -18   9

With thanks to Football 365

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Newsletter #1790