Manchester City vs. Fulham  2 - 0


Premier League: Manchester City 2 Fulham 0

19 January 2013 18:07

Two goals from David Silva saw Manchester City beat Fulham 2-0 at Etihad Stadium, closing the gap on title rivals Manchester United.

The reigning Premier League champions were ahead within two minutes, as Silva calmly guided Edin Dzeko's parried shot past a hapless Mark Schwarzer.

City looked set to run riot, but they didn't strike again until mid-way through the second half, as Silva latched onto Carlos Tevez's through-ball and expertly chipped the ball over the Fulham keeper, guaranteeing the home side all three points.

Roberto Mancini picked an unchanged side for the first time this season, with fit-again Sergio Aguero listed on the bench.

Fulham made six changes to the side that stumbled past Blackpool in the FA Cup; Kieran Richardson, a goal-scorer in the match match, was picked at left-back, while Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov returned up front.

The hosts got off to a flying start, as James Milner pounced on a loose pass and offloaded to Dzeko. The Bosnian's rasping drive was palmed into the path of Silva by Schwarzer, and the Spaniard duly stroked the ball into the far corner.

Despite the early goal, City struggled to exert their usual authority on the match as Martin Jol's side enjoyed a large share of possession – albeit in non-threatening areas – and the game become a taut, subdued affair.

Mancini's men seemed increasingly content to sit back, absorb pressure and counter, although they could have conceded when Steve Sidwell outjumped Pablo Zabaleta at the back post, heading Damien Duff's cross just wide.

City finished the half with a modicum of urgency, as Dzeko blasted the ball over the crossbar from an acute angle, and that intensity grew further after the break, with Tevez leading a more direct and high-pressure approach.

Nevertheless, it was not until the hour-mark that City really threatened Schwarzer's goal. Good work from Zabaleta earned his side a corner, from which Kompany powered a header on target, which was almost diverted into the net by the outstretched boot of Tevez.

The home side finally doubled their lead with 20 minutes remaining. Smart one-touch interplay between Gael Clichy and Tevez released Silva, who raced toward goal before effortlessly dinking the ball over the onrushing Schwarzer.

Seconds after the game restarted, Tevez and Silva combined again, but this time the diminutive playmaker could not beat Fulham's Australian shot-stopper, dragging his effort wide of the far post.

Fulham mounted little in the way of a response, despite enjoying some healthy possession, and Joe Hart was almost completely untroubled as the game rolled towards its conclusion.

Aguero marked his return from injury with a brief but lively cameo off the bench and there was time for Dzeko to blaze an absolute sitter over the bar from six-yards.

The result sees Manchester City move to within four points of league leaders Manchester United, and if winning ugly is a sign of a good team, then City certainly proved their title credentials today.


Mancini ´sorry´ for lost talent Johnson

18 January 2013 18:00

Roberto Mancini feels 'very sorry' for Michael Johnson after the troubled 24-year-old was released by Manchester City.

Johnson, once touted as a future City star and England international, battled injury and mental health problems during his time with the club and, having not featured for the first-team since October 2009, was quietly let go in December.

Although he never managed the 24-year-old, Mancini felt compelled to express sympathy with the youngster's plight, and voiced his hope that he can now sort out his personal issues.

"Michael Johnson was a guy with a big talent and I am sad for this, sad for him," he told reporters.

"He could do everything with his talent. I am very sorry for him. I hope he can resolve all his problems."

City take on Fulham this Saturday as they bid to close the seven-point gap to Manchester United at the top of the Premier League, and Mancini is warning his players that the Cottagers will be no pushovers.

"Fulham are a good team, they have good players," he added. "When we played them away, we won the game in the last second.

"We played very well and deserved to win but tomorrow will be a different game. They won their last game away against West Brom, they are very dangerous on counter-attack.

"Their manager has big experience and he knows he can do well. It depends on us."


Mancini refutes Guardiola speculation

18 January 2013 15:30

Roberto Mancini says he never felt his position at Manchester City was under threat despite speculation linking Pep Guardiola with the job.

Following the appointments of former Barcelona executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain at the Etihad Stadium and the Premier League champions' second consecutive group stage exit from the Champions League, the 42-year-old was touted as a possible replacement for Mancini.

However, the former Barcelona coach has since agreed to take the helm at Bayern, replacing Jupp Heynckes in the summer, and Mancini believes all previous ties were unfounded.

"I didn't have any problem for this - I understand the newspapers should write that every manager wants to take this place because it is a good place," Mancini told reporters.

"But I think we work very well here, I have a five-year contract and I think this is possible for five years."

City are seven points behind rivals Manchester United in the race for league title, with Fulham their opponents on Saturday.


Premier League preview: Manchester City v Fulham

17 January 2013 09:39

Sergio Aguero could return from injury as Manchester City look to extend their winning run against Fulham on Saturday.

Aguero has not featured for the English Premier League champions since injuring his hamstring against Stoke City on New Year's Day.

The Argentine forward, who sensationally scored the goal against Queens Park Rangers that earned Manchester City the title on the final day of last season, took part in a light training session on Wednesday and has an outside chance to play at Etihad Stadium.

City, who have taken maximum points in their past three outings, are seven points behind leaders Manchester United.

The Eastlands club have won seven of their past eight matches in all competitions, with a 2-0 victory at Arsenal last time out enhancing their title credentials.

City received a welcome boost on Tuesday when the red card shown to captain Vincent Kompany against Arsenal was overturned.

Kompany was sent off for using excessive force in tackling Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, despite getting to the ball first, and faced three games on the sidelines as punishment.

Fulham have slipped to the bottom half of the table after winning just two of their past 14 games.

The west London club were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Wigan Athletic at the weekend before snatching a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 win over Championship side Blackpool on Tuesday.

"Going to the champions is always going to be hard - we have got to stick together," Fulham midfielder Kieran Richardson said.

"We have got some hard games coming up. Our form hasn't been the best but we have got a great manager and great coaches. I'm sure we'll do well."

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25