Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCity start ominously but United also hit early rhythm - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough City start ominously but United also hit early rhythm - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

City start ominously but United also hit early rhythm

The latest twist to the early stages of what is shaping up to be the most exciting title race in recent memory is that Manchester City have ended their long running pursuit of Samir Nasri by finally managing to land the Frenchman for a fee of £22 million. The midfielder will add to the attacking guile and fluidity that has been on display in the opening two games of the season that has yielded two convincing wins, seven goals and an immediate return from the marquee signing of Sergio Aguero. The shackles finally appear to have been taken off by Roberto Mancini and the impending addition of the mercurial Nasri to such flair is ill-boding for the rest of the league.

They have been spearheaded early on by the rejuvenated Edin Dzeko, who looks far removed from the sluggish centre-forward of last season after experiencing the benefit of a full pre-season in a settled environment following his arrival from Wolfsburg in January. The Bosnian has run the channels superbly in these first two games, happy to create in a front four of maximum alternation and acting as a poacher too, scoring two goals in as many games. With two also to his name, David Silva has also been in imperious form in his job as playmaker, pulling the strings majestically in both games; his statistics against Bolton reveals only nine failed passes from an attempted figure of seventy. James Milner was also impressive at the Reebok, tallying two assists and covering the wide range of ground his admirable English work-ethic entitles him too, alongside Gareth Barry, who also chipped in on the goal-scoring front. With 33 shots amassed so far after 180 minutes of football, these are exciting times at City, and the football is also matching the potential of achievement for entertainment value.

Questions will be asked about a defence that conceded twice at the Reebok following their straight-forward handling of Swansea, both goals coming from inside the box suggesting a potential issue with marking. Bolton managed to trouble the Manchester City goal with three shots and hit the net with two of them, such abandonment at the back will have to be addressed quickly if Mancini wants to restore the solid base of last year on which to platform the attacking extravagance. Alexsandar Kolarov and Micah Richards have also started to provide more width from full-back, a feature that has always been a part of Richards’ game but less so Kolarov, who got forward extremely well on Sunday and almost provided a goal for Milner. Gael Clichy, another full-back who is enthusiastic on the attacking front, will offer another outlet when he returns.

City are top of the league at this moment in time on goal difference, a product of the shift to the open, expansive game that was only produced in patches last season and was compromised too many times by the cautious style of their Italian manager. Together with them at the summit of the table are their neighbours who have also signalled a warning to the other participants in the Premier League this weekend, their own business being to take care of Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. Spurs, tasting the prospect of life without Modric, managed to match the home side for the first half until Sir Alex Ferguson clearly instructed his side to press higher up the field after the break and the match quickly descended into a simple brush-aside. Danny Welbeck is starting to look every inch the player his potential has promised; his goal was an example of clinical finishing and the instinctive back-heel to assist Anderson for the second was high quality link play, he is beginning to threaten Dimitar Berbatov for position of third-choice striker, a great achievement considering the Bulgarian was top-scoring whilst Welbeck was out on loan to Sunderland.

The football United were producing towards the end of Monday night’s game was of the highest standard, Wayne Rooney was his effervescent self in dropping energetically into all nooks of the pitch. Ashley Young looked dangerous in tandem with Nani while Tom Cleverley impressed in his central midfield role, providing the elegant cross for Welbeck’s goal. His partner Anderson was also impressive, having improved ten-fold from last season. The Brazilian’s range of passing was decent, as was his industry across the pitch. He will be a huge asset to the midfield if he can obtain some sort of consistency, a detail he has not yet mastered in his game. If he finds that and a regular goal return, he may well be able to join Nani in justifying the large fee United splashed out on him. Glances towards an inexperienced defence without Ferdinand and Vidic were quickly eliminated by the reassured displays of Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones, the latter looking every inch his £16.5 million fee.

There is still a long way to go before the table that matter begins to take its formation but the two Manchester teams are already looking like genuine champions. It is consensual that re-formed Chelsea will be the other genuine challengers for the crown but they are starting slowly, a sluggish performance earning a nervy 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge after coming from behind. They will have to wait to find their stride, but Manchester City and Manchester United have already hit theirs respectively and it is a worrying tone for the others. Football? They look well and truly mad for it up in Manchester.

Adam Gray @MonkeyLunch21


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