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'City Are Going To Win It All' was No) 7 on our list of Top Ten Knee-Jerk Reactions on Tuesday. We talked of 'verve', we talked of 'proper wingers' and we annoyed those who did not quite grasp the concept of the feature and thought we were genuinely saying that City would destroy all who faced them. At No) 3 on that list was 'Arsenal Are F*cked'. If we were to write the same feature again this week, those two knee-jerk reactions would be reversed. Which tells you everything you need to know about the pointlessness of trying to draw long-term conclusions from one match.
What happened at Cardiff on Sunday was utterly predictable in its unpredictability. We had so many of the ingredients for a shock (if one Premier League team beating another at home by a single goal should ever really be considered a shock): a ridiculously wonderful atmosphere, the first home game of the season for top-flight newcomers, visitors who have spent a shedload of money but could still only field an agonisingly slow centre-half pairing and, of course, a hugely overrated goalkeeper. 'Welcome to the Premier League' is Sky Sports' early message to Manuel Pellegrini, but we suspect he has already spotted that football has a curious habit of not always letting the superior side win.
"Nobody believes they can score two goals against us from set pieces - football is like that," said a pretty unruffled Pellegrini (and I swear that I only saw this quote after writing the paragraph above).
Gary Neville was at pains to point out that City were not actually playing badly in Cardiff and he was right. They dominated possession, they created chances and they took some of those chances. They were not as devastating as they were against Newcastle but then Cardiff did not allow them to be devastating; Gary Medel and Aron Gunnarsson were amongst those who worked so hard that they may now sleep for a week. Pablo Zabaleta had an uncharacteristically poor game and Joe Hart had a characteristically poor game. Cardiff took advantage just as they will have to do another nine or ten times if they want to survive in the Premier League. Their challenge is to create that atmosphere and play with that intensity when less sexy opposition comes to town.
The odds on City winning the title drifted after the result in Cardiff - presumably there are those who do not believe that City lost a single game two seasons ago or have forgotten that United conceded five goals in their first three games of last season. This week will bring feverish speculation about a big-money move for a centre-half and suggestions that Hull City will be able to 'get at' this City defence on Saturday, as if those two corners in Cardiff have destroyed everything Pellegrini has done this summer in terms of strengthening and preparation. Such is football and such is the media.
'Pellegrini's halo has slipped' tweeted one prominent national journalist after the game, presumably because he was the one flapping and floundering at a corner. It's at this point that we would like to say our own 'Welcome to the Premier League'.