Easter weekend was a very good one for Manchester City fans like myself, Arsenal and Tottenham both dropping points was a great start, and picking up three points with a tricky away win at Blackburn made the weekend more or less as good as it could possibly be.
It would be wrong to say that City were at their free flowing finest, and that they blew the struggling Lancashire side away with a show of exhilarating flair filled football…far from that in fact, the Eastlands side weren’t great, but they won, and they won ugly, and isn’t that what all the best teams are capable of?
Steve Kean is having to endure a really tough run in charge of Blackburn he is now 10 games without a win and they are now fully embroiled in the relegation battle. For all that though, their home form going into last night wasn’t bad, only one team before City had left Ewood Park with all three points in this calendar year and with Roberto Mancini’s side not managing an away win since boxing day, the Lancashire side fancied their chances.
It wasn’t to be however, it was a battling performance that was decided by a neat finish from long suffering Edin Dzeko, hopefully the first of many, Blackburn saw plenty of the ball in the second half but failed to do a great deal with it. City dominated the first 45minutes and were unlucky to not lead at half time, David Silva smacked the post with only 3 minutes on the clock, and Gareth Barry was unlucky to have a good header cleared off the line.
As for Blackburn, it is fair to say on another day they could have had a penalty for a careless clip by Vincent Kompany, but I don’t really believe they did enough to warrant the win. It could be argued however that at the same time, they didn’t really deserve to lose either.
Enough of the post mortem though, lets see how I thought the players rated, starting with Blackburn:
Michel Salgado – 6 – Worked very hard and tracked Adam Johnson well after a shaky start. Did look leggy at times, but he stuck to his task.
Gael Givet – 6 – Did his best, but struggled to handle City at times. Didn’t necessarily do a great deal wrong, but didn’t do much to deserve a higher rating.
Chris Samba – 7 – Always thought Samba was a quality defender and he proved it again. Impossible to get round, dealt with Balotelli well and was always a threat coming forward, a real rock!
Phil Jones – 6 – Recovering from injury well, made some good surging runs late on. Maybe could have done better with a late chance , looks a good prospect.
Martin Olsson – 6 – Like his team mates it was an all action display and he tested Hart with some quality free kicks, especially late on.
Jermaine Jones – 5 – Didn’t notice it at the time but put in a horrible tackle on Pablo Zabaleta in the first half that should have been punished and was generally over run in the midfield, struggle to get to grips with the City midfield.
David Dunn – 5 – Made no real impact, and was definitely not one of his better games. He never really found any space and didn’t help much defensively either, substituted early and replaced by the livelier Rubin Rochina.
Brett Emerton – 6 – An all action display, but Blackburn need some spark in their midfield and sadly all of Emerton’s hard work couldn’t unlock the City defense.
Benjani – 6 – Won plenty of headers and didn’t give Joleon Lescott an easy ride. There was little other threat though really, he was willing, but isn’t he always. Put one particularly poor header well wide of the post.
Jason Roberts – 5 – Carried no threat really, had a great chance in the first half that he fluffed. He did have a decent penalty shout, but considering this was his chance to stake a claim for a starting place, he didn’t grasp it.
Ruben Rochina – 7 – I thought he looked a threat when he came on, and for me he should have started ahead of Jason Roberts, some nice touches, and he took up some good positions, impressive performance.
Mame Biram Diouf – 5 – Not much time to really rate.
Nikola Kalinic – 6 – Very willing, carried more of a threat than Roberts and Benjani for me. Held the ball wall and used it wisely.
Now for City:
Joe Hart – 7 – City were put under a real aerial bombardment, and Hart dealt with crosses well. He claimed a lot rather than punching, and he organised the backline well. He made a notable save from an Olsson freekick late on as well.
Pablo Zabaleta – 6 – Not his best performance, but a tireless and determined 90minutes. He defended well and was willing to get forward, however he looked a bit frazzled at times, and sometimes his passing left a little to be desired.
Aleksandar Kolarov – 7 – A solid performance from the up and down fullback. He was good coming forward and didn’t lose the ball too often, still defensive question marks for me though.
Vincent Kompany – 7 – A very strong performance, had to use his height to clear wave after wave of long balls. He brought the ball well out of defense, was maybe lucky however to not give away a penalty in the first half.
Joleon Lescott – 8 – It’s rare that I think Lescott has performed better than Kompany, last night however I think he was slightly better. The game was played to his strengths, he was dominant in the air and didn’t over complicate.
Nigel De Jong – 8 – I am running out of superlatives it is fair to say. Nige snapped away, yet never overstepped the mark. He was the pulse in the City team and he kept driving the team forwards.
Gareth Barry – 7 – You know what you get with Barry, unlike some City fans I think he has a good influence on the team, he remained calm and worked very hard. His role in the goal also can’t be underestimated, a solid performance.
Yaya Toure – 6 – Not one of his better performances, but also not too bad. He conserved his energy for a few well timed bursts and he was also unlucky to not score in the second half, some of his passing however left something to be desired.
David Silva – 9 – He has that guile and skill to unlock the opposition, exactly what Rovers lacked. He was at the heart of everything and got the assist for Dzeko, and was unlucky to not score a screamer early on.
Adam Johnson – 6 – Started like a house on fire, but soon lost his way slightly. A few tricky runs but it just didn’t really work for him, he was disappointed to be subbed, but he will have many better games than this.
Mario Balotelli – 6 – Worked hard early on, but got frustrated as the game went on. Some nice hold up play and used his strength well, seemed to get tired of being isolated up front in the second half however and he went missing somewhat.
Edin Dzeko – 8 – Finally got the monkey off his back by scoring, it wasn’t the hardest goal he’ll score but he took it well to squeeze it in the corner. He visibly gained confidence and showed some good strength and touches later on.
Patrick Vieira – 6 – Did exactly what was required. Shut the game down and broke up play well late on.
Dedryck Boyata – 5 – No time to rate really.
Now for the all important post-match award presentations:
Balti Pie Top Award For Top Performer goes to David Silva. On the night he was the difference between the two teams, Blackburn missed some sort of creative spark, and that is exactly what Silva provides for City. He was at the heart of all the good work that the team did, and it deserves to be said that he does more than just attacking work. He was unlucky to not get on the score sheet really and his crisp volley early on would have been a spectacular goal.
Prawn Sandwich Award For Worst Performance for me goes to David Dunn, its not easy to pick a bad performer since Blackburn weren’t that bad, but Dunn struggled. They missed some sort of creativity in the centre of the pitch and that is something that Dunn can provide on his day. He had a good battle with De Jong, but sadly for Blackburn he never really managed to compete with the Dutch destroyer that closely and that was where things fell apart from Rovers.
It wasn’t a particularly poor performance from Blackburn, they just didn’t really dominate the midfield enough and they missed some class throughout their team, especially up front. Sadly for them, that is exactly what Silva gave to City and I think he was the difference between the 2 teams.
Also I would like to take this opportunity to say that whilst the City support last night was fantastic generally, it is a real shame that some sections of the travelling supporters felt the need to spoil it with a pretty pathetic song.
Putting that behind us however, a win this weekend, and a defeat for Tottenham and things will be looking pretty rosy.
For more of my thoughts on City and football as a whole, follow me on twitter @soccercityjoe!