City go clear at the top
Manchester City moved three points clear at the top of the table with a narrow 1-0 win over basement boys Wigan at the DW Stadium
Last Updated: 17/01/12 8:16am
Manchester City moved three points clear at the top of the table with a narrow 1-0 win over basement boys Wigan at the DW Stadium.
Edin Dzeko ended his goal drought with the winner in the first half for Roberto Mancini's men after going 11 games without a goal.
City had chances to increase their lead in the second half, but Ali Al Habsi produced a superb double save to deny Dzeko and Silva.
The closest Wigan came to scoring came midway through the second half when Joe Hart produced an excellent save with his feet to keep out James McCarthy's shot.
And Blues boss Roberto Mancini ended the game in animated conversation with the fourth official after Martin Atkinson's inexplicable failure to show Maynor Figueroa a red card for deliberate handball as he denied Sergio Aguero a clear run on goal two minutes from time.
David Silva returned to the City side for the match at the DW Stadium.
The diminutive Spain international is behind so much of the Blues' most inventive play and with Yaya Toure amongst the five senior figures missing this evening and Samir Nasri struggling for top form, there was more reliance on him than usual.
Silva had a couple of shots blocked, almost sent Aguero through and supplied the free-kick for Dzeko's goal.
Having not found the net since November 5, the Bosnian was in need of one of those fireworks Mario Balotelli had set off in his house.
To that end, he could not have wished for more accommodating opponents.
Wigan failed to get close enough to Dzeko and as Gary Caldwell and Antolin Alcaraz floundered, Dzeko found the bottom corner with a precise header.
Aguero brought a fine one-handed save out of Al Habsi as the opening period drew to a close and, despite the closeness of the scoreline, the suspicion remained that City would cruise clear after the restart.
Yet Wigan remained spirited opposition and with plenty of team-mates in support, McArthur could have picked a better option than a long-range shot from an acute angle that fizzed disappointingly wide.
It was not long before City were back on the offensive, although how they had not increased their advantage by the hour mark was a bit of a mystery.
First of all, Al Habsi made a magnificent double save to deny Dzeko and Silva, clawing the Bosnian's curling effort away from the top corner, then repelling the midfielder, who had aimed low from barely seven yards.
What followed next was infuriating for Aguero, who weaved his way past three Wigan defenders and seemed to have the simplest of tasks to find the net.
Instead, Dzeko whipped the ball off his toe and went for goal himself. But his shot was so weak Al Habsi was able to make a comfortable save.
It meant Roberto Martinez was able to introduce Ben Watson and Franco Di Santo midway through the second period still harbouring hopes of snatching something from the game.
And how close they came too as Hugo Rodallega rolled a pass to James McCarthy on his left and the midfielder forced Hart into his best save of the match.
It was not turning into the cruise many had predicted and the jitters even seemed to get to the normally unflappable Hart, who made a save he did not need to as McCarthy's shot was flying wide.
The introduction of Nigel de Jong for Nasri and Nedum Onuoha for Silva were further signs of City entering preservation mode.
Wigan continued to be the architects of their own downfall though, gifting a chance to Dzeko, which Al Habsi turned away, then costing themselves a decent attacking chance when Caldwell rolled a two-yard pass to Stam straight out of play.
And, though they worked hard to fashion another opportunity, Wigan could not find a talking point to match Figueroa's deliberate handball as he got the bounce of a De Jong clearance all wrong and, knowing he was the last man, stuck up a hand to prevent Aguero bursting clear.
|Wigan Athletic||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||6|
|2||Shots off Target||5|
|42||1st Half Poss.||58|
|50.5||2nd Half Poss.||49.5|