Manchester City vs. Wigan: 6 Things We Learned
What a difference 51 hours and 45 minutes make.
Two days, three hours and 45 minutes before the start of that match, of course, was the start time for Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United, i.e., the derby win that now famously incuded City fans' chants of "there's only one David Moyes."
Tickets to the derby were likely only available at an absurd premium. Compare and contrast with the tickets to City/Wigan for this match, where free ticket upgrades were offered.
Pity the organizers of the Capital One Cup, at least as far as City are concerned. When you just blasted your greatest rival in a derby and your Champions League dreams are vividly alive, a third-round match for the least significant silver at stake in a given season just will not get the big club's best.
Details of Manchester City 5-0 Wigan Athletic follow in the next six slides.
If You Want 'Revenge,' Watch the ABC Show
A casual Premier League observer might have circled this third-round Capital One Cup draw between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic as a "revenge game."
The last two times these sides met, City's petulant millionaires dumped the last few shovels of dirt on the grave of Roberto Mancini, pulling off the rare collective no-show in an FA Cup final.
Wigan earned the victory—they were comprehensively better than City on that day—but they had help from a disinterested and disillusioned City side who wanted their season over and their manager gone.
So surely City would be out for blood in this one, right?
Not so much.
Wigan is in the Championship, City are fresh off a sweet blasting of United in the first derby of the season, and the Capital One Cup is a prize that City will only win by accident.
There May Be No Crying in Baseball, but There Is Definitely Crying in Football
My seven- and four-year-old children cried less in the past few days than Wigan Athletic manager Owen Coyle did.
Seems Coyle was a bit chafed about facing Manchester City two days after his side earned a necessary win in the Championship over Ipswich.
"If you were going to equate it to poker, we've not been dealt a great hand...But that's been dictated by television and we're not exactly thrilled about it, but we need to get on with it," Coyle said according to Sky Sports.
Yes, Mr. Coyle, sometimes football managers have to rotate players based on the demands of the schedule and the needs of their players to get adequate recovery time. This is, um, not a new phenomenon.
It would be great if Coyle left it lie with that hokey poker analogy, but no:
Any game I enter into, I want to win but we're playing against an elite club, not only in English football but in European football, one of the favourites for the Champions League, never mind the Premier League, and we're asked to go there after one day's rest and try and win that cup tie.
Who Are These Guys?
It was no surprise that Manchester City manager would work in some squad players for a Capital One Cup match, particularly after spilling the team's collective bucket against Manchester United on Sunday.
But this XI Manuel Pellegrini named to take on Wigan...I mean...who are these guys?
On one hand, I am happy for Dedryck Boyata and Marcos Lopes, who got starts for City. Similarly, it must have been nice for Javi Garcia to start a match in the midfield instead of at centre-back.
Micah Richards made the XI as did James Milner; you have to believe that they both looked at this assignment as being somehow beneath them.
And if that is how they felt, you can only imagine what Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic thought of being run out there against Wigan in a third-round Capital One Cup tilt.
It had to be a little of "who are these guys" and a bit more of "how on Earth did we get here?"
Then again, at least they got to start. Pellegrini's bench, stocked with the likes of Yaya Toure, Alvaro Negredo, Samir Nasri and Matija Nastasic must have felt like some sort of performance art stunt to those well-heeled gentlemen.
Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero were excused from dressing. Which, I would argue, tells you a lot about their irreplaceable quality.
Edin Dzeko Is Not Stupid
It has been another schizoid chapter in the topsy-turvy Manchester City career of Edin Dzeko these past couple months.
Dzeko entered the season as City boss Manuel Pellegrini's "main striker." After only three Premier League matches, though, Dzeko had lost his position to the rampaging Alvaro Negredo.
Pellegrini did not mince words as to why Dzeko's star had fallen so quickly. “I spoke with Dzeko before I arrived here and I told him that he will stay here and now, in this year, he must demonstrate the player Manchester City bought two years ago,” said Pellegrini per ESPN FC.
What does that mean? "He must score."
Very well, then.
Dzeko is still trying, at least. He flew all over the pitch against Wigan Athletic in this Capital One Cup match, putting four shots on target and scoring City's first goal along the way.
Because, you know, Dzeko can read just like you and me.
Underdog Victories Are Special Because They Are so Rare
Latics fans will sing of Wigan Athletic's vanquishing of Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final for as long as the club remains in existence. As well they should.
Their songs and that joy will need to carry them past days like this third-round Capital One Cup match, where little Wigan looked like the freshmen taking on the varsity's hungry bench players.
The only way Wigan could hope to survive in this match was to catch City attacking overzealously and hitting them on the counterattack.
That can work if your ever manage to possess the ball, which Wigan barely ever achieved.
After a first half that saw Wigan clinging for dear life to a one-goal deficit, the floodgates opened in the second half with Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas getting markers and fourth-choice striker Stevan Jovetic making a case for himself with a brace.
Well, Wigan will always have that FA Cup, anyway.
City Won the Battle and the War
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini had two overriding imperatives in this Capital One Cup match with Wigan Athletic.
The first was to win the match. Sure it was. Maybe not 5-0, but a win nonetheless.
Second and far more important, though, was for Pellegrini and City to leave the Etihad with as many healthy key players as they showed up with.
Pellegrini made three substitutions, which were properly noted in ESPN's match commentary as "tactical."
At least as of this writing, no significant injury was reported for the Sky Blues who knocked this fixture off their busy calendar.
Even more than victory, that was what Pellegrini must have wanted most.