Sunday, January 27, 2013

MAN OF IRON

When I made a comment last week that Pablo Zabaleta had been constructed chiefly out of spare parts from Apache helicopters, I was quickly and clearly corrected. It is in fact the Apache helicopters that are made of spare bits that have fallen off (or been chipped off) Zabaleta. My apologies for the schoolboy error. I should really, at my age, have known slightly better. As if to prove the point once and for all, here was yet another game that showed why this is true, as the Argentine workhorse continues to build a bond with the City faithful to match those enjoyed by Shaun Goater, Uwe Rosler, Ali Benarbia, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Georgi Kinkladze and other A class City stalwarts from years gone by.
- Match report: Stoke 0-1 Manchester City

Stoke away in the cup is a good place to fill your side with storm-troopers in any case, and with Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott, Javi Garcia and Aleksandar Kolarov all present, the feeling was that City were ready for any size fight the locals wished to inflate it to. Giant Costel Pantilimon filled the goal, block-of-flats-sized Edin Dzeko took his place up front. For all the talk of City's pocket rockets, Roberto Mancini is also capable of putting out a formidably physical side too, when needs must, and here was just the occasion to roll out the six-footers. In midfield we were treated to the Gareth Barry-Garcia axis, giving City solidity, nous and the breaking speed of a 1967 Morris Minor.

The first effect of the fabled Magic of the Cup appeared to be that it had made the Stoke fans disappear. While the away end was packed to the rafters, gaping patches of red seats were evident in the home support on all three parts of the ground they were supposed to be occupying. Perhaps next time City come to town, they can lend us a side instead. Still, the atmosphere was what you would expect, and City, backed by the noise of nearly 5,000 Mancunians, tore into the home side from the start. 



The complete article can be read on ESPN's Manchester City pages

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