MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10: Samir Nasri of Manchester City skips past Gary Caldwell of Wigan during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic at Etihad Stadium on September 10, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
One of the questions I've raised this season given the way in which the team had started was quite how Carlos Tevez would fit back into the side. Tevez made his return to City colours yesterday and it was a mixed afternoon for him. In particular, Tevez linked well with Sergio Aguero and it was his persistence that led to the creation of the opening goal. Tevez - not surprisingly - tired after the break and was replaced by Samir Nasri, who made an immediate impact with a hand in City's second. Tevez's qualities are undeniable and yesterday undoubtedly saw Tevez feeling his way back in terms both fitness and in adjusting to new teammates, but I remain to be convinced that Tevez doesn't infringe too much on others space and that his energy, tenacity and are best suited to a system where speed in relation to movement of both man and ball are so key. Expect a return for Dzeko in midweek against Napoli.
On the subject of Tevez, perhaps the responsibility as captain of the club isn't the only one Tevez is relinquished of. Saturday's was a tame effort, one easily saved by Ali Al-Habsi in the Wigan goal and of course follows his miss in the Copa America earlier in the summer. Whilst his record at City has generally been sound, he far from convinced in his execution and it has been proven that others within the squad are better placed to assume the spot kick duties. Rather now than before it is a really costly miss.
The victory made it two wins out of two in this fledgling season at the newly-named Etihad Stadium and this follows a run of fine home form carried over from 2010/11 (now 18 unbeaten I believe). City's home form last season was very good indeed - in particularly winning 12 of 13 when going ahead in games. We saw last year that even by dropping a large number of points away from home (by virtue of drawing around half of their games) by returning a dominant home record still allows you to win the Premier League. It is this level of form that City need to maintain for them to be in contention in the Premier League but also in Europe where seven points (two wins and a draw) from your home games should all but ensure progression to the knock-out stages at the very least.
One of the features that Roberto Mancini so desires in the systems he deploys - be it last seasons model or the more expansive play seen so far in 2011/12 - is for the full-backs to play an integral part. With the partnership of Kompany and Lescott shielded by Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong (with Yaya Toure filling in currently) they are expected to possess the attacking threat to combine with the likes of David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri et al but also to be adroit defensively. Throughout last season the Italian never quite found the mix and it wasn't even until the second half of the campaign that Micah Richards made the position his own. However, Mancini may now have found his pairing in Richards and Clichy, who whilst barely gaining a column inch let along a headline, were excellent yesterday. How so? Check the tweets I put out for Richards and Clichy that detailed their stats which shows the level of contribution they made, from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. In addition, the following Guardian Chalkboard illustrates just how effective their contribution was going forward:
Whilst the may not garner many headlines, don't underestimate their value to this side.
This is in no way to diminish the attacking performance though and in particular the trio of Aguero, Silva and Nasri (the latter for just half an hour of course) were once again sensational and we are in danger of running out of superlatives for them. Aguero, squat and bull-like in stature, plays with such a deft touch and a real eye for goal whilst Nasri has fitted in seemlessly and the team stepped up a gear when he was introduced yesterday. It is Silva though who is leaving everyone salivating. Last season I espoused that Tevez was the heart of the side but on the evidence of these past four games Silva is its soul: his vision appears on a different level and his touch is slight but so damaging. It speaks volumes that in a side packed with this much talent it is he who still stands out above the rest. One things is for sure: it will take some performance for him not to be crowned as the best player in the Premier League this season.