Manchester City’s average showing on Wednesday night against Wigan Athletic served as a timely reminder that next month’s FA Cup Final won’t be the walkover that has been predicted by some.
While City look to have discovered some of their mojo in recent weeks, one thing that has irked supporters this season has been the failure to grind out results, and it is one of the main differences between Roberto Mancini’s side and Manchester United who still enjoy a 13 point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
The 1-0 win over Wigan was barely deserved as Roberto Martinez’s team were arguably better throughout, but when City needed a match winner up stepped Carlos Tevez with a wonderful finish in the 83rd minute.
“Fantastic goal, he played really well Carlos - he fights,” said Mancini afterwards, and that little quote perfectly sums up Tevez.
The Argentine has had his ups and downs since joining the club in 2009. The 2011 sabbatical that saw him spend hours on the golf course after a falling out with Mancini left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans, while his recent brushes with the law for driving offences haven’t made for good headlines.
However, when on the field there is no doubting Tevez’s commitment. According to Opta, Tevez’s goal against Wigan takes his total Premier League tally to 84 in 196 games which is the exact same record as that of Cristiano Ronaldo in England. He captained City to the FA Cup Final win in 2011 and played a key role in the final few months of last season’s run to the Premier League title.
Now, with eight goals in his last nine games, Tevez has stepped up to the plate at a time when other key players, most notably Sergio Aguero and David Silva, have spent time on the sidelines injured. City’s next best contributor for that same nine game period in terms of goals scored is Aguero with four.
With a shooting accuracy of 55%, StatCity states that Tevez has the best record for players in the Premier League who have scored ten or more goals this season. In total he has 11 in the league and 17 in all competitions to lead the club’s top goal scorers list for 2012/13.
Tevez’s current contract with the club expires in 2014 but despite murmurings that it would be his last in English football, Brian Marwood said recently that City will be looking to open discussions regarding an extension in the summer.
At 29, there’s no doubt Tevez still has a lot to offer to a team that will be aiming to win the Premier League and progress in the Champions League next season. His partnership with fellow countryman Aguero is wonderful to watch in terms of movement and work rate, and City are still to lose a game that both have started. City have also not lost a game in which Tevez has scored this season, boasting a record of 11 wins and two draws in all competitions.
City can still mathematically win the title and all comments coming out of the club are that they won’t give up hope until it’s all officially done and dusted. With that in mind, Sunday’s game against Spurs is huge and three points a must. Both sides are sweating on the fitness of key players as the availability of Aguero, Silva, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon remains questionable.
City and Spurs last met at White Hart Lane in August 2011 when Eden Dzeko netted four as the visitors ran out 5-1 winners, and a repeat scoreline would keep the pressure on United ahead of their game with Aston Villa on Monday night.