Johnson banking on Eastlands dominance
Winger Adam Johnson believes Manchester City are being propelled forward by their formidable home form. The leaders maintained their 100 per cent Premier League record at the Etihad Stadium with a routine 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers yesterday.
Roberto Mancini's men have now won 18 in succession in the competition on their own ground - 13 this season - and not lost there since December 2010. They still have some tough-looking home games remaining, with Chelsea visiting next month and a potential title decider against Manchester United in April, but their soaring confidence at Eastlands could be crucial in the run-in.
Johnson told City TV: "When you play at home, there is that bit extra confidence. We have a lot more of the ball and we enjoy playing on this big pitch. When you go away, the pitches aren't so good, they are narrower. They make it difficult for teams like us to play. Here we have everything in our favour and all the fans behind us, which is massive. I think that is why we perform so well."
Relegation-threatened Blackburn were completely overwhelmed and might have slumped to an embarrassing loss akin to their recent 7-1 thrashing by Arsenal had goalkeeper Paul Robinson not been in fine form. City bossed the game with 69 per cent possession and had 20 shots to the visitors' two.
Mario Balotelli scored the first goal with an instinctive first-time finish at the near post after half an hour. Robinson kept Rovers in the game but was at fault as Sergio Aguero doubled the lead after 52 minutes and Edin Dzeko wrapped up victory with a late header.
Johnson said: "Once we scored the first goal, they never really looked like scoring. At times we had that much possession, we just passed it and passed it. It is difficult for them, they are fighting for their lives and coming to us is obviously difficult.
"If they could hang on for as long as they could and maybe nick a point, I think they would have been delighted with that. We probably should have scored more than three but it is another three points and another game down."
Johnson, 24, was overlooked for both legs of the UEFA Europa League tie against Porto which concluded on Thursday but impressed with a 71-minute run-out after being preferred to Samir Nasri. He now joins up with the England squad for this week's friendly against City team-mate Nigel de Jong's Netherlands in good heart. Johnson said: "It is always nice to get away and get a bit of a change of scenery and things.
"There is nothing better than playing for your country. Hopefully we'll get another win because we haven't been doing too badly of late. I was obviously happy to get another start, my third in the row in the Premier League. I was pleased with how I played and I wished I could have stayed on at the end, but I think every player is like that. I really enjoyed it."
The result left Rovers back in the relegation zone and their upcoming fixtures against the likes of Aston Villa, Wolves and Bolton - three other teams currently in the bottom six - could prove crucial. With just two points separating the bottom five, Rovers manager Steve Kean accepts March will be a critical month but he is looking forward to the challenge.
Kean, whose side's only shot of note at City came from Ayegbeni Yakubu in injury time, said: "The games coming up are great games for us. We have got lots of teams coming up that are in and around us. This was always going to be a tough fixture.
"I am disappointed but the fixtures coming up we should be positive about. We should be looking forward to them. Let's get the lads back from international duty on Wednesday and then look forward to Villa. It's not ideal losing players this week but everybody is in the same boat and, fingers crossed, everybody will come back fit and well."