Manchester City see off West Brom but David Silva injury mars win

Sergio Agüero celebrates scoring Manchester City's second goal against West Brom at the Etihad. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA ...

Sergio Agüero celebrates scoring Manchester City's second goal against West Brom at the Etihad. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA
There is a song that can be heard on nights like these at Manchester City and it takes its tune to the words "we'll fight to the end". They were true to its theme two seasons ago – right to the very last kick of the season and that throaty commentary of Sergio Agüero's "93:20" moment – and now they are clinging to the hope that something similar might be possible again.
They will almost certainly need Chelsea to win at Anfield on Sunday against a Liverpool side that have just won 11 games on the bounce and it would be stretching the truth to say there was any real sense among the crowd that City might be putting together another spectacular comeback in the making.
In truth, the chorus of defiance was sung out of habit more than anything. For now, however, City are doing their bit, seeing off West Bromwich Albion with first-half goals from their three Argentinians and emerging unscathed from a more prosaic second half apart from losing David Silva to injury. The result closes the gap to Liverpool to six points, though City have a game in hand and a superior goal difference.
West Brom remain fifth from bottom, three points clear of the jagged line, and maybe with greater ambition they might have done more to investigate whether City were unusually vulnerable after a disappointing recent run. The problem for Pepe Mel's side was that, against this calibre of opponent, they cannot defend this badly and expect to get away with it.
Agüero set one up for Pablo Zabaleta then scored himself inside the opening 10 minutes and, on both occasions, the defending encapsulated why West Brom are looking anxiously at the clubs behind them. Graham Dorrans briefly gave them hope with a fine counterattacking goal after 16 minutes but Martín Demichelis soothed any gathering nerves and, again, it was a poor goal to give away, coming from a straightforward corner routine.
Pellegrini's side have now moved to 145 goals in all competitions this season. It is a new record for a top-division team, the previous high having been set by Sir Matt Busby's Manchester United, with 143 in 1957.
On the flipside, they have also gone five games without managing a clean sheet. Dorrans took his goal with great expertise, deceiving Gaël Clichy with a clever change of direction and elegantly sweeping the ball past Joe Hart. Yet it did not escape Pellegrini's notice that all this originated from a poor free-kick routine in the opposition half. Liam Ridgewell dispossessed Zabaleta and it was remarkable how open City suddenly were as Stéphane Sessegnon and Matej Vydra led the break.
Mel also reflected afterwards on the moment, at 1-0, when Vydra put the ball past Hart only for the goal to be disallowed for offside against Billy Jones in the buildup. It was, however, a correct decision, albeit exceedingly close, and the manager might have been better dwelling on his team's shortcomings in defence.
The opening goal, after three minutes, was the case in point, starting with Ridgewell's poor header straight to Agüero. Ben Foster saved the striker's shot but Zabaleta was following in and Chris Brunt had not tracked the full-back's run. Zabaleta's stooping header made him the 14th different scorer for City this season.
Agüero's finish to make it 2-0 was a beauty but Foster was badly positioned and there was a mistake from Morgan Amalfitano as well before City's leading scorer took aim, firing in his 27th goal of the season. Foster had taken a step too many to the right, leaving an inviting gap for Agüero to pick out to the goalkeeper's left, and it was the kind of basic mistake that was West Brom's undoing. Demichelis's goal, after Vincent Kompany had applied the first touch to Samir Nasri's corner, was another prime example.
West Brom moved the ball nicely at times, with Dorrans continuing to impress. Sessegnon's direct running sporadically caused problems and a moment of erratic handling from Hart earlier in the match might also have encouraged them.
For the most part, however, it was a relatively stress-free second half for City bar that moment, after 68 minutes, when Silva went down in obvious pain. The challenge with Amalfitano was fairly innocuous but Silva has been troubled with an ankle injury for some time. This was his return after missing the 2-2 draw against Sunderland last week and his performance had reiterated his importance to the team's wellbeing. West Brom also lost a player through injury and the early diagnosis was that Ridgewell's ankle sprain will rule him out of their remaining four games.


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