Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Predictions v Barca

Sorry folks, brief one / little time…

v Barcelona

Camp Nou

Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4:


___________________De Bruyne__________________





Claudio in net.

Being rested at the weekend; it seems obvious that it was for tonight’s game and, so, Aleks & Pablo to be our flanking defenders this evening. Nicholas & John in between those.

Fernandinho given the main, ‘deeper / protection’ task (good luck with that!) and I can see Pep wanting to go for his preferred, strongest 'centre' ahead of the Brazilian...that being David & Kevin. Either side of those is ‘birthday boy’ - who came on as a late sub last Saturday and got us a point - on the left (Nolito) and I think our manager will want to see Raheem back to his early-season best on the right side.

Sergio to get his starting place back tonight.

Willy the keeper cover; Gael & Vinny the defensive replacement options. Fernando to 'come to the rescue' if we need to 'dig deep' and defend for our lives; Ilkay, Leroy & Kelechi the more creative & attacking options form the side.

Notable absences: Bacary Sagna (injured), Fabian Delph (recovering from injury), Jesus Navas (not selected) & Yaya Toure (not included in Champions League squad).

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

Yep…it’s about as fresh-legged and as strong as we can muster in many ways.

Result? It’ll be interesting to see what effect two teams with similar, high tempo / pressing styles will have. Results-wise it’s not been a great period for us of late BUT I’m going for those similar playing styles to cancel each other out. It’s a very creditable draw for us I think.

Expected weather conditions during the game: Overcast, hardly a breeze and a pleasant / comfortable 64F.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Huffed & puffed against the yellow-brick wall

The stats say it all really… 


·       72% possession

·       19 shots to their 3

·       8 shots ‘on target’ to their 2 and… 


…13 corners to their 1 


Unfortunately for all that effort, dominance and pressure the final stat was Manchester City 1 – 1 Everton.

Nothing to get into a twist over…

…but that’s no wins in 3 now and 7 goals conceded during that trio of fixtures. What an amazing contrast to the previous form of played 10, won 10, scored 30, conceded 6! That series of events had me almost using the phrases “typical City” and the “great unpredictables” as I left the Etihad yesterday. Almost

Those last 3 games might suggest to some that we’ve been “found out” but I’m not going for that just yet.

-       At Celtic it was always going to be one of those where the home side – and fans – would be right up for a loud, Champions League party-atmos night…and we held our own despite a poor defensive display.

-       At Spurs, then, yes; they ‘did their homework’, ‘did a number on us’ and fully deserved their victory on their home patch.

-       Against Ronald Koeman’s men, yesterday, it was simply an excellent defensive display by ‘the oppo’ – numbers behind the ball too – and a SUPERB day at the office for their keeper! Iheanacho will have better days (a missed opportunity in many ways for the young striker who appeared to struggle to control the ball at times) and Aguero too appears to be hitting a little ‘crisis of confidence’ spell.

But I was heartened by other displays.

Despite a shape that took me some time to work out; I thought we looked more assured at the back and further up the field, David Silva was amazing as is often the case of course. Kevin De Bruyne looked sharp for a player who has just returned from a fairly serious-looking injury [at the time] and Nolito continues his [good] habit of getting in places where it hurts. Happy birthday fella!

In summary…

…not too much damage done – Arsenal moved closer but definitely wobbled a little by scraping a 3-2 home win and impressive [against us] Spurs just about managed to salvage a point away from home.

Leicester don’t look like they’re going to be a threat this season - not for the moment at least – and Liverpool & Manyoo are about to ‘scrap it out’ tomorrow…hopefully for a ‘points shared’ in my book anyway.

It never feels good to drop home points but with…

Crystal Palace (A) and…
Burnley (A)

…all up next in the league before December; as long as we continue to press teams as we did yesterday then our quality should bring us out of those 5 fixtures with a decent amount of points before a tough December & January.

At least it makes it interesting!

Note following-on from yesterday’s blog posting (side note at the end):

Unless there was an incident I’m unaware of, it was really good to see the Everton fans behaving well yesterday. In fact, before they scored yesterday they were really very quiet indeed!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Everton preview – Finally…we’re back!

Flippin’ international break; bobbins, boring England grumble, grumble, grumble… 


It’s seems ages since a City game and even LONGER since a home match (17th September for the record). It doesn’t help that ‘void feeling’ either that our last two games – following an excellent start to the season – ended in a draw followed by a defeat; shipping in 6 goals in those two clashes. That’s something we need to resolve this afternoon. 


Sorry for the late posting by the way – incredibly busy time since returning from my holibobs on Tuesday.

Defence – plusses & minuses

With Claudio Bravo in net and the way Pep likes both him and our defence to play [passing around and out form the back] there’s an ever-present threat to our goal, especially from teams like Spurs who set about a plan to counteract it. Guardiola admitted ‘just so’ a few weeks back; admitting quite nonchalantly that yes…we will ‘leak at the back’ from time to time.

But I doubt even he would have seen half a dozen goals hit the back of our net in a little over 180 minutes of play and that’s something he would have liked to have worked on intently in the last 10 days or so. Shame, then, that a lot of his players have been away…

It’s not all bad though – yes we do have Bacary Sagna out injured; a player who is clearly in need of a rest after a gruelling season covering for the largely-injured, last season, Pablo Zabaleta…followed by a very long World Cup campaign. But it’s not all grim news from our defensive department.

Both Argentines Pablo & Nicholas received yellow cards in their first game for their country and were, therefore, sensible returned to England early to work with their club manager longer. Well done the Argentine manager (and fellas for ‘taking one’ for the sake of their club, can I add with a wink).

John Stones has the ‘against his old club’ factor today, whether you see that as good for us or not; both Gael & Aleks are fit and even Vinny has been back in training and is in contention either for today or, more likely I think, Barcelona or Southampton.

So…let’s hope the many ‘plus factors’ over the negative one helps us tighten our defence up once again against The Toffees because before our ‘6-goal blip’, we had only conceded 6 goals in 10 games.

v Everton

Etihad Stadium

Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4:







Claudio between the sticks…as well as in the 18-yard box, near both corner flags…

Defence almost picks itself really, with Aleks & Pablo senior flanking Nicholas & John.

A fluid midfield / wing 5 then and working from ‘deeper to more advanced’ I think it’ll be Fernandinho, Ilkay & David all flanked by Nolito on the left and, I think, a start from German international Leroy.

Sergio to, hopefully, recover from a small dip in form and regain some confidence; being supported by an array of creativity behind him.

Hard to predict a bench in a way, with a number of players having only just been deemed ‘recovered from injury’. Willy is the obvious ‘keeper insurance’ of course and I think Gael & Pablo junior are ‘no brainers’ either. Fernando too should be the obvious midfield replacement option; Jesus likely to get into ‘the 7’ and I think Pep would like the option of Kevin from the side (and he does have a record of bursting back onto the scene following a lay-off). Kelechi the striker replacement option.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (on his way back from injury but not risked to play any part today), Bacary Sagna (injured), Fabian Delph (on his way back from injury but not risked to play any part today), Raheem Sterling (on his way back from injury but not risked to play any part today), Yaya Toure (unlikely to play for club again following spat with agent).

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

Yep…and I hope we DO see a Leroy start this afternoon.

Result? Don’t like playing these in general – they have a history of unsettling us even on our home patch and things, like a lengthy injury to Sergio, tend to happen around this lot.

But it’s a different era now – different-class players and two different managers. Yeah they’ll ‘give us a game’ and threaten our unpredictable rearguard but that’ll just make for a good game. In the end, it’s all 3 points to the lighter of the two blues.

Side note:

I’m sometimes asked which fans are, in general, the worst I’ve come across over the many years of following footy. I’m always keen to include in my reply that it’s only ever a small percentage of fans who behave badly and that every club – even our own of course – has its section of ‘numpties’.

But I have to admit that my answer does all-too-often, sadly, include today’s visiting fans who, for me, ALWAYS seem to cause some kind of mayhem at the Etihad! I know a local fella too who is a supervising steward at our ground and he can’t STAND doing the Everton home game for the very same reason; adding also that they were not much different when he worked at Maine Road.

Let’s hope we see a change in that pattern today…