Stopping smoking or drinking for the month of October for charity is all well ‘n’ good…and very commendable / worthwhile indeed of course.
I didn’t do a pre-Borussia Monchengladbach on purpose and regular readers might guess why. I almost bore myself with the reasons why I fail to get overly excited about the Champions League over the Premier League (and our other domestic cups for that matter) but, I will add, I also find that more often than not our struggles in the UEFA competition then causes us to stutter somewhat in the league; as it most certainly & frustratingly did again after the Juventus game.
I just want us to move on and PUSH on in the Prem again now…
Returning players should help
The defence is still probably going to be made up of the largely-frenzied trio of Demichelis, Otamendi and the fading again Kolarov; ironically the usually-dependable / City hero Pablo Zabaleta (remember him?) seems to be on his way back [with two bench appearances in the last two games] but finds, ahead of him, the only consistently good defender [in Bacary Sagna] that we’ve had in recent games.
After missing two games with a niggly back; Joe Hart being back in place of Caballero clearly helps too, of course…and WHAT a brilliant performance the England keeper had in Germany on Wednesday night! A real 10/10’er!
The returning David Silva is a HUGE fillip and although Sergio Aguero is still to add to his one and only early-season goal from open play [against Chelsea] I thought he looked slightly better in mid-week and added another successful penalty to hopefully help boost his confidence.
Will the ground-out, 2-1 win at Borussia Park be a turning point in the league for us? I of course hope so…
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
4-5-1 come 4-2-3-1 come 4-3-3:
Despite, apparently, Eliaquim Mangala making a far quicker-than-expected recovery and being available for today’s squad selection; I can’t help feeling that it’ll be a little too soon for ‘a start’ for the big Frenchman…and I can’t help feeling also that it’s a bit of a ‘rush job’ in bringing him back when the original ‘return date’ was supposed to be towards the end of the month.
So just in front of the midweek-brilliant Joe is probably the same back-line that we’ve seen in recent, Keystone Cops weeks; especially at the heart of that same-said “defence”.
Fortunately then, in a way, that the limited availability of players has forced together the slightly more solid / defensive-looking pairing of ‘The Ferns’, although when this was suggested to Manuel Pellegrini in the second part of his pre-match press conference he dismissed it. Still, it does LOOK, on paper at least, to provide the defence with slightly more protection and possibly allow the more-advanced trio to concentrate slightly more on attack…
Speaking of which, it’s the mouth-watering trio that most City fans have been waiting to see ‘click’. It’s been slightly interrupted / delayed with the injury to David Silva and, before that, the steady introduction of new-signing Kevin De Bruyne but when it DOES get into gear I think it'll be frightening (for the opposition of course).
Ahead of those is a man desperate to find some form – our man Serg…
Strong and most certainly a more attacking bench that has been available of late.
Starting from the 'back end', we have the only other two out & out strikers in the squad returning from injury and, if we’re ‘out of sight’ early enough and hopefully Aguero has banged-in some goals, I’m hoping at least one of them will get a decent run-out this afternoon (3pm KO BST).
Navas to...run a lot (HEY! Did you make a note of the date & time in mid-week; where Jesus beat a man AND provided a decent, accurate cross in the second half against Monchen?); probably George Evans to continue his introduction to the first team and provide central midfield cover if needed / the game-play allows.
Mangala to start his re-introduction following injury and likewise Pablo Zabaleta; who’ll be staring at Bacary Sagna and tapping his watch with that cheeky grin of his…
Caballero to ‘fill the bench’ (sorry…I’ve still not forgiven him for the Spurs display).
Notable absences: Gael Clichy (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Fabian Delph (injured), Yaya Toure (injured) and Samir Nasri (injured). At least the injury list is a LITTLE shorter…
Result? Not only have Newcastle United not won in the Premier League this season so far, with 3 draws and 4 defeats from 7, scoring just 5 and conceding 11; they also crashed out of the League Cup at home to Sheffield Wednesday just 11 days ago (their only victory for the season coming in the form of a 4-1 home win in the same competition to Northampton Town).
Most of their results do seem fairly close affairs – they’ve not been beaten by more than 2 goals in their dismal run (that only occurring twice) and got a creditable draw and clean sheet at Scaffold Trafford back in August.
A 2-2 home draw with Chelsea looks pretty decent, especially when you note that they were leading 2-0 with just 11 minutes of normal time remaining. But don’t be fooled by that one; apparently both teams were awful on the day.
Having not seen them play this season it APPEARS as though they’re a team who TRY to keep it tight and be organised but just end up making a key mistake and / or capitulate in some way. This could be another one where we have to be patient in order to break ‘em down…
Our defence does worry me - I don’t think their forwards or more attack-minded midfielders are exactly ‘firing’ at the moment but this is of some concern to me. Perhaps I’m just feeling some post-West Ham jitters about a highly likely, jam-packed Geordie defence & midfield…and a break-away goal or two again.
At home, with the form they’re in (worse than ours) and with the players we have at our disposal; surely…SURELY this is a home win. That’s what I’m going for.
Not sure I’m liking this ‘feeling-of-old’ where you just don’t know what you’re gonna get from a team with a ‘last-5’ that reads, L L W L W. We used to say that was ‘part of the “fun” of watching Manchester City’ but, at the moment, I’d settle for some form and a return to the top of the table…