I think I was correct, recently, when I suggested that fielding just one striker from
the start two games in-a-row was unprecedented for our manager. Ahead of the
game, could we be looking at a definite 3 games in-a-row with just one
striker from Manuel Pellegrini? Chelsea
This was always going to be my opening gambit [about the one / two striker scenario] but following the pre-match press conference, I find that ‘The Engineer’s’ hand may well now be forced somewhat. This is due to soreness in Edin Dzeko’s back following a nasty-looking ‘jar’ during the unlucky Bayern defeat on Wednesday night.
So…with no Jovetic I think it’ll be up to the rested Sergio to lead the line, not necessarily “alone” as such, but certainly as the one recognised striker. And I, personally, am happy with that…even at home.
Jose’s men come to the Etihad jam-packed with attacking midfield talent and, as is becoming almost ‘the norm’ these days in the Premier League – and for us with our ‘oppos’ in particular – I think we need to adapt and almost ‘fight fire with fire’ if you will.
I do almost long for teams to play fluid 4-4-2s more often than not with two strikers but I fully understand and appreciate the 4-5-1 / 4-2-3-1 (or similar formation); with flare, pacy, creative players behind one ‘hit man’. I think, quite often, the ‘fear factor’ of not wanting to risk coming out of games with no points whatsoever kind-of influences managers into choosing these formations.
But forced or otherwise, this is what I think our manager will go for in another early-crucial, Premier League game on Sunday (4:00pm KO BST).
From the back…
Hart to continue between the sticks.
Kolarov to provide more attacking thrust at home; Zaba gets a start after his forced absence [through suspension] in midweek.
I was, at one stage, going for Eliaquim to start this one…and in NOT predicting him to start now I may well be wrong. But Martin is doing really quite well at the moment and providing his older legs aren’t feeling it after tough trips to Arsenal and the German champions, I think he’ll ‘get the nod’ again. Kompany of course to partner him.
Ahead of them must be Fernandinho who showed signs of season-improvement on Wednesday night. Some would say he HAD to due to an abject performance from Yaya. I’ll come on to that…
So, the Brazilian to (mostly) ‘hold’ and then an attacking quartet of Nasri, the afore mentioned Ivorian, Silva and Navas. Now that has some midfield attacking bite and pace, with the raring-to-go Argentine destroyer ahead of it!
Particularly with Fernando and Jovetic still out with injuries the bench sort of picks itself really. There’s a dilemma for me, however; will Frank be picked against
or not? Chelsea
There were – and still are – rumours that there’d been a request from the ex-Chelsea midfielder that he-not be selected to face his old club. However, although never revealing his hand of course; Manuel seemed to suggest that it wasn’t a consideration at all. Other pundits have since backed ‘Lamps’ to be professional and make himself available for selection…other footy sources are even backing the England international to score on Sunday.
The alternative would be to put another ex-Chelsea player on the bench instead, in Scott Sinclair. Still seems strange to see him in contention for a place (and I say that in wishing him all the very best of luck).
Result? Pre-season I said we’d win this one…and I’m sticking with that. I don’t normally go as far as predicting an actual score but I’m thinking a 2-1 win here. A draw wouldn’t be a complete disaster but it would, of course, be a better result for the away team on this occasion.
But I’ve got a good feeling that we’ll use the last home defeat [to Stoke] and the midweek irritating disappointment to good effect against the Londoners.
The Yaya debate
It just goes to show you how fans view games differently. Where I agree with the apparent majority is that Yaya produced a performance that yielded few, if any, results in the Champions League opener. I also agree that he’s had a quiet start to this season’s campaign (his Fantasy Football League stats alone are proof of that) and I totally agree that it was foolhardy to be laughing & joking in public with the opposition manager, Pep Guardiola, so soon after a very disappointing, last minute blow for his colleagues and travelling fans (whatever his reasons and possible intentions).
|Powerful running - need to see more...|
|Flirting? Certainly silly.|
If Yaya does have some lingering and underlining ‘head’ issues I, for one, have 100% confidence in our ‘charming man’ pulling him out of it soon enough. And if he can’t, I have 100% confidence that Manuel, Ferran & Txiki will ‘off load’ him at the right time and for the right price; whilst they will, I'm sure, have already negotiated for his replacement. Either way, I’m not overly concerned at this stage.
It could be worse, we could still have Mario Balotelli on our hands (I can’t wait for those shenanigans to begin).