Saturday, 18 March 2017

Reaction v Liverpool / post-Monaco…


Reaction-wise I’m not thinking so much “mentally” but rather…how will Pep’s men recover physically in order to be ‘in the fight’ for 3 points against Liverpool tomorrow afternoon (4:30pm KO GMT)?


Burn out?


I’m not sure whether or not it was to do with the fact that Monaco played with such energy and high intensity in the first 45 minutes of last Wednesday’s Champions League game…but I thought we looked largely ‘heavy legged’ in the first half as we attempted to chase the ball and were second to almost everything.

We did appear to find some legs and looked considerably sharper after the break, as the home side also switched down a gear. But with Pep’s words still echoing in my head from a pre-match press conference just the other week, where he stated that all of his players were injury free but a little tired; I just wonder if the last 4 weeks of 8 games (including one, unwanted F.A. Cup replay) in 3 different competitions - and with the high-tempo that Guardiola likes his players to both train & play - have taken their toll a little.

I suggested this to a fellow Blue just yesterday who looked a little irked at the mere suggestion that our lads might be a little jaded – am I being too soft on a bunch of highly-paid professionals supported by the very best training & medical facilities? Perhaps.

Advantage Liverpool?


We’re at home. Advantage City?

Well for our part…not really. We’ve amassed 30 points from 10 wins ‘on the road’ (with 4 defeats and no draws) and a lesser figure of 26 points on ‘home soil’ from just 7 wins & 5, frustrating draws (with one defeat).

However, Liverpool don’t exactly have an away record to be too proud of; reading is it does W6, D4, L4. Their home form is far better.

Overall, I’d have to say that’s pretty ‘even-Steven’.

Then, as I’ve already alluded to, there’s the ‘fatigue factor’. While we’ve ‘slogged out’ 8 games in just 4 weeks, Liverpool’s work-shy-fops have only had to pull their shirts on 4 times in the same period, give or take a couple of days. 8 games in 4 weeks (or 2 games per week) might not sound much in itself but playing twice as many as your next league opponents is a considerable difference in my book.

Not only that, but while we were travelling back form the South of France and, hopefully then, taking a much-needed breather on a possible day off on Thursday before intense training resumed yesterday; Liverpool will have had ANOTHER full week off to prepare for their visit to East Manchester!

Definitely advantage Liverpool there in terms of rest-prep…

v Liverpool


Etihad Stadium


Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-4-1-1:

____________________Aguero____________________





___________________De Bruyne__________________


Sane___________________________________Sterling
_____________Silva_____________________________

____________________________Toure_____________








___________________Caballero___________________



Despite what I’ve said regarding concerns over some possible fatigue, our lads have had almost 4-full days since we departed Europe’s biggest, domestic football competition. Therefore, I don’t see too many changes from what was, let’s face it, a very strong line-up in France.

Willy to carry on wearing the gloves for City.

The slightly more-attacking Aleks [over Gael] likely to keep his place from Wednesday night but to shuffle over to an attacking left-back role. I think John will, therefore, keep his place in the middle of defence but joined by 2 players rested in midweek, in Nicholas & Pablo.

Not used at ALL against the French side; Yaya to step right-back-in and will, hopefully, be ready to do some real damage to the Scousers. The rest, I think, will stay the same in a very ‘attacking 6’ that includes David, Leroy, sure to be booed Raheem, Kevin & Sergio.

“The Hologram” as back-up to Willy; Gael & Bacary the defensive replacement options. Fabian & Fernandinho make up the midfield change possibilities from the side with Jesus & Kelechi the more attacking subs.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (not selected / I’ve given up suggesting that Vinny might at least make the bench…so he’ll probably get a start on Sunday), Fernando (not selected), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for rest of season), Nolito (not selected again - has he played his last game for City?) & Gabriel Jesus (injured – possibly for the rest of the season).

Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?


Providing those players who DID feature 4 days earlier are ‘good to go again’ then I’m fine with that 11 for the most part.

Result? For all the reasons listed above, I just can’t think past a draw against our visitors from Merseyside. With both teams likely to score, it’s a ‘points shared’ for me. I hope, in the right way of course, that I’m very wrong; as 59 points and a chance of 2nd place going into the international break sounds quite appealing to me.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

This could be another cracker!



“Poised” at 3-5, Monaco need to win tonight by 2-0, 3-1 or 4-2 and are well-capable of scoring that amount of goals. 

 

So…we’ll just have to aim for a repeat of the first leg and win 10-6 on aggregate.




v Monaco.


A rather strange looking and so-not-big Stad Louis II

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-5-1:

____________________Aguero____________________






___________________De Bruyne__________________

Sane___________________________________Sterling
_____________Silva_____________________________

_________________________Fernandinho__________



Clichy_______Kolarov_______Otamendi______Sagna





___________________Caballero___________________


Subs: Outfield player with gloves on, Zabaleta, Stones, Delph, Toure, Navas, Iheanacho.

Willy back in net after stepping aside for the F.A. Cup last Saturday.

Back on ‘home soil”, I think that both Gael & Bacary have been earmarked for this fixture for some time at left & right-back. In between those? Nicholas has seen a settled run in the side of late and is likely to go again. John & Aleks, however, seem to be-being rotated at the moment and I think the more experienced Kolarov will ‘get the nod’ for this one.

Pep will want to attack and will most certainly not allow his players to sit on a 2-goals lead. However, having played 86 minutes on Saturday I don’t think we’ll see Yaya start this one. Therefore, the only slight indication of protecting our 5-3 lead will be in my predicted inclusion of Fernandinho; who I’m sure will ‘sit & protect’ for large parts of tonight’s game as well as linking up with his more-attacking midfield colleagues. The rest pick themselves, with David, Leroy, Raheem, Kevin & Sergio all pressing to kill off our French hosts.

“The Hologram”, as I’ve recently discovered many Blues are calling him, sits as back-up to Willy (I will add, though, that he had a decent game against a Boro side not known for frightening defences this season); Pablo & John provide the defensive insurance. From there on in, I think we’ll see Fabian on the side in case we need to find some energy and extra defensive midfield ‘steel’, Yaya as a potential ‘game changer’, Jesus for some counter attacking pace (even if it’s just to get the ball up the other end quickly) and Kelechi for an additional goal threat.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (not risked / selected), Fernando (not selected), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for rest of season), Nolito (not selected) & Gabriel Jesus (injured – possibly for the rest of the season).

Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?


Well the pace of Monaco’s attack might slice through Kolarov a few times and the left-side of the defence in general could be considered our weakest area but other than that, that all looks good to me.

Result? Huh…in terms of a scoreline this one really is anyone’s guess. They will score, I’m sure, and so will we…I’m sure.

I can’t see us letting this one slip, even if it becomes a little scary at times. Sit back, strap yourselves in and try to enjoy a potential thriller in which, I think, we’ll get through to the quarter finals (and join Leicester City!).


Hyperlinks to be completed sometime soon…