Man City beats Wigan, gains 3-points lead at top
WIGAN EDIN Dzeko’s first-half header lifted Manchester City three points clear at the top of the Premier League as the leaders swapped flair for functionality in a gritty 1-0 win at bottom club Wigan Athletic on Monday.
It was not pretty and did not produce the sackfuls of goals City have often managed this season but three points from a scrappy game at a cold and sparse DW Stadium are exactly what teams eke out on their way to championships.
“This evening it was important to take three points, I think that we played well in the first half an hour and after (that) so-so,” City manager Roberto Mancini told a news conference.
“We had three or four incredible chances to score the second goal but we didn’t score ... in this moment it is important to get three points, this month it is important to do the maximum points we can get.” City, who had been suffering a blip since the start of the new year with one win and three defeats in all competitions, knew they could not afford a slip-up after Manchester United pulled level with them on points on Saturday.
After dominating possession with their trademark swift passing, City’s breakthrough came in the 22nd minute when David Silva floated in a free kick that the towering Dzeko nodded past Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi.
Silva returned from the ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s 1-0 defeat by Liverpool in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final and a little of the dynamism that has torn apart so many teams also came back, in the first half at least.
Wigan, though, had their chances against a City defence missing suspended Vincent Kompany but anything they engineered, such as two longrange shots by James McArthur, was more opportunistic than some of the slick moves crafted by their opponents.
The hosts started the second half brightly before City rediscovered their rhythm and should have scored when Sergio Aguero did all the hard work by dribbling past several Wigan players and the keeper only for Dzeko to fluff his shot.
Silva was then denied by Al Habsi’s quick reflexes and City keeper Joe Hart dived well to block James McCarthy’s low shot as a spirited Wigan sensed they could still snatch something.