A resounding statement by City
Man City established its title challenging credentials beyond a doubt
Goalkeeper John Ruddy was a standout as Norwich held Liverpool to a draw
Newcastle remains undefeated thanks to a superb late Yohan Cabaye strike
Roberto Mancini's cool reaction will only have made the defeat smart all the more. "Is this a great day for Manchester City?" he was asked. "It will be a great day when we win the Barclays Premier League," he said, having offered Sir Alex Ferguson his hand looking as fearful as the rest of us as to what the Manchester United manager might do with it after a 1-6 drubbing. "Now, we've only won one game." Which is true enough, but this was the kind of game, the kind of result, the kind of performance that encourages grand conclusions in the heat of the moment: David Silva is the finest player in the country; the title is already City's to lose; Rio Ferdinand is finished.
Even in the aftermath it demands that we consider their viability. City hadn't scored six against United since 1926, and United hadn't conceded so many at home to anybody since 1930. The sight of some home supporters heading for the exits with the score at 0-3 and 20 minutes still to play, shaking their heads as if they'd just been served baked beans on toast at a Michelin-starred restaurant, captured the sense of rupture. You could focus on Jonny Evans' sending off just after halftime if you wanted to -- at least to wonder why Ferguson didn't start the infinitely better Phil Jones, or even include his best central defender, Nemanja Vidic, in the squad -- but once City scored you fancied they could have won comfortably against 11 men.
The gusto of Silva's display (and James Milner's, for that matter, bringing the industry and sparkle of his central performances to the right channel) made the ragged edges of the Anderson-Darren Fletcher partnership even more visible. Ferdinand was consistently pulled out of position by the movement of them, Mario Balotelli; anyone in pale blue, in truth, and his characteristic authority quickly evaporated if it was ever there. Though it feels harsh to suggest David de Gea was to blame for any of City's goals, there is reasonable cause to wonder how the same defense might have done with a more dominant and vocal goalkeeper to cajole them.
"There's a lot of embarrassment in that dressing room, and rightly so," said Ferguson, who described his team's performance as "crazy" and "suicidal" before promising "there will be a response to that" (lucky Aldershot, Tuesday's Carling Cup opponents). The United manager berated his players for trying to recover the deficit instead of limiting the damage, but his substitutions (replacing Anderson with Jones and Nani with Javier Hernandez) did not suggest such a tactic; his aura of impotence seems odd. It is dangerous to judge any side on the basis of a derby match, when tempo and temper are almost always higher than usual; there will undoubtedly be days when City simply cannot replicate their mood at Old Trafford. But with 33 goals from nine matches and a five-point, 12-goal lead at the top of the table, the question remains: if Fergie can't stop City, can anyone?
Edin Dzeko's second goal -- City's sixth -- underlined the key points from this emphatic result. It started with Chris Smalling cushioning a header to no one in particular not far inside the City half, with Silva pulling the ball out of the air with his left foot and then hooking it forward with a swivel of the hips. His pass (one of the 92 percent he completed) carved through the space between Ferdinand and Smalling to Dzeko, who kept it away from the halfhearted chase of both United defenders before shooting from the edge of the area.
John Ruddy and Pepe Reina enjoyed quite a contest during Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Norwich. Ruddy's excellent first-half save from Luis Suarez -- getting the very tips of his fingernails to a first-time shot -- might have been forced to share the honors with Reina's point-blank stop from a Grant Holt header in the 65th minute. But the Norwich goalkeeper finished the game with a brilliant save in the final moments at Anfield, pushing Suarez's volley over the bar. The Uruguayan forward had 11 shots at goal without scoring (with two hitting the post) as Norwich made themselves comfortable in the top half of the table.
His appearance on Saturday was actually his fourth for Bolton this season, but when Ricardo Gardner came on in place of Dedryck Boyata 54 minutes into Wanderers' defeat to Sunderland there was widespread surprise. He's still playing? The answer came over the next 36 minutes: no, he's not. Bolton's was hardly a performance that could be stained by any one individual; rather, Gardner's general haplessness seemed to epitomize a club struggling to conceive of itself without key players (Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmander gone; Chung-Yong Lee and Stuart Holden still injured) and grasping for a hold.
There was much befuddlement ahead of kickoff at the Emirates this weekend, when Arsenal announced a starting lineup to face Stoke that didn't include Robin Van Persie. The Gunners looked duly dull without him, but the scores were still level when he was introduced in the 64th minute and it took him less than 10 minutes to restore Arsenal's lead and another 10 to extend it with two goals from positions that Marouane Chamakh lacks the self-belief even to get in to. Perhaps Arsene Wenger has struck upon the perfect plan to get a full season out of his fragile captain.
It will be a dreadful waste if John Terry doesn't become a referee once his playing days are over. The Chelsea captain always knows exactly what the referee ought to have done, no matter how far he was from the incident. In fact he was a good 15 yards away when Jose Bosingwa tried to tuck Shaun Wright-Phillips' shirt into his socks, but that didn't stop him arguing with the referee when he showed the first red card of Chelsea's incredible 1-0 defeat to QPR, and every time he blew his whistle thereafter. With referees under more pressure than ever, Terry's untouchable conviction -- four years ago he tried to snatch a red card from Mike Dean's hand to stop him showing it to Mikel -- would be a real boon for the profession.
"We've been playing Champagne football recently. Not today though, it was more like flat bitter" -- they say you should make lemonade, but the Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew likened his side's fortunate 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic in to a dense ale. Still, Yohan Cabaye's sumptuous 81st-minute strike gave a moment's fizz, and extended Newcastle's unbeaten start to the season.
70 -- the number of seconds between Bobby Zamora's breathtaking miss for Fulham and Louis Saha's second for Everton. With the score at 1-1 and only a couple of minutes remaining, Zamora sold Tim Howard a dummy and dodged around the keeper to set up what looked a certain winner, only to spank the ball over. Everton went straight up the other end from the goal kick and took the lead, and Jack Rodwell added a third even further in to stoppage time. "Bobby is sick about it," the Fulham manager Martin Jol said afterward.
Georgina Turner is a freelance sports writer and co-author of Jumpers for Goalposts: How Football Sold its Soul.
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