If ever a game demonstrated the gulf in class between the Championship and the Premier League, this was it. A Wigan side who were only relegated from the top flight in May barely got a kick against a City team with 10 changes from the weekend’s derby win over Manchester United.
Manuel Pellegrini used the game to give his fringe players some game time, and they repaid him handsomely. His predecessor, Roberto Mancini, tried the same trick at this stage of the competition last season but was beaten 4-2 at home to Aston Villa—there was never a hint of a repeat tonight.
It capped a superb week for City that has seen three wins in three competitions, with 12 goals scored and just one conceded.
The only player to keep his place from the side that started on Sunday was Fernandinho, who was replaced by Yaya Toure at half-time. Marcos Lopes made his full senior debut and impressed, Micah Richards played for the first time this season after injury and Edin Dzeko, Joleon Lescott and James Milner were all given starts after losing their places. Even Dedryck Boyata—the forgotten man left off the list of first-team players on City’s official website—played the full 90.
City’s strength in depth was on full view.
Dzeko opened the scoring after a beautiful pass from Fernandinho. Alvaro Negredo’s form means Dzeko isn’t a starter in Pellegrini’s current best XI, but the City boss knows the importance of keeping him involved. Dzeko is a player who needs the full confidence of his manager to be at his best, and a start and a goal will have done him the world of good.
Stevan Jovetic, who has had a stop-start beginning to his City career because of niggling injuries, grabbed a brace and looked classy throughout. He could be the best piece of business City have done this summer. He played an hour of City’s disappointing draw away at Stoke where he was lively without having much of an impact, but tonight he was able to get on the ball and really demonstrate his touch and vision. He’s a real talent.
Yaya Toure scored another free-kick, his fifth goal of the season, and substitute Jesus Navas completed the rout. A special mention should also go to James Milner, who was typically excellent in his return to the first XI.
It was an excellent performance from City’s second string, and the Sky Blues were physically and technically far superior to Wigan.
Manuel Pellegrini knows full well the role this competition can play in City's season. It may not be the most illustrious trophy to play for, but it provides him with a competition where he can rest his main men and use his fringe players instead. Pellegrini made 10 changes for the Wigan clash, and City still looked superb.
After a week of wins and goals, City will go to Villa Park on Saturday full of confidence.
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