Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Staring down the barrel towards 5th place.



3rd-place in the Premier League is now in Arsenal’s own hands and although we too, similarly, have it within our own control to finish 4th; we’ve annoyingly put ourselves into a position where anything less than two victories against both Arsenal and Swansea City and we could be welcoming our new manager in June without a Champions League football handshake. 

 

What a very sad state of affairs in a season where we’ve lost almost a third of our league games so far and with just 2 to go. 

 

Why did Pellegrini not start Sergio Aguero up front with Kelechi Iheanacho at Southampton and, more to the point, having not selected our most dangerous front man to start; what was the point of having him on the bench if he had no intention of using him at all?! 

 

Why, also, did he not have a game-changer in addition ‘on the side’ such as Kevin De Bruyne - extra insurance in a game where, I would suggest also, it would have been far more prudent to attempt to ‘put it to bed’ in the first half and THEN withdraw players who are likely to be key to the ‘starting 11’ against Real Madrid just 3-days later? 

 

Engineer? He was a bit more ‘tool like’ on Sunday against an ordinary-looking Southampton side that was ‘well beatable’. 

 

I hope risking our top-4 finish was well worth it with a win tonight…




v Real Madrid



Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

4-2-3-1:

____________________Aguero____________________







_____De Bruyne_______Toure__________Navas_____


___________Fernando________Fernandinho________



Clichy______Kompany_______Otamendi______Sagna




______________________Hart_____________________

Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Mangala, Demichelis, Delph, Bony, Iheanacho.

Joe, of course, in net.

With our ‘skip’ returning to the back line along with also rested / not risked Gael & Bacary; along with Nicholas that’s probably about the strongest defence we have.

Ahead of those is the protective shield of Fernando & Fernandinho, who are probably both to be given the role of helping to protect the back 4 from various and countless attacks, no doubt.

With 6 outfielders largely defending; that should then give licence for Kevin, Yaya & Jesus to concentrate mainly on counter attacking / supporting lone-man Sergio.

Willy as keeper insurance and a defensive trio of Aleks, Eliaquim and Martin. Little in the way of midfield options unless he dips into the EDS; Fabian the only one in that department. Two striking options from the bench.

Notable absences: Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Samir Nasri (not available / not selected for the Champions League squad and David Silva (injured).

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


Yep, can’t argue with that at all.

However, although it’s never gonna happen; for your consideration could I ‘chuck in’ an 11 v Madrid that could work? Just a bit of indulgence and a formation / personnel I was contemplating the other day…

5-1-3-1:

____________________Aguero____________________






_________De Bruyne__________Fernandinho_______
_____________________Toure____________________


____________________Fernando__________________
Clichy____________________________________Sagna


__________Mangala___Kompany___Otamendi_______




______________________Hart_____________________

Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Demichelis, Delph, Navas, Bony, Iheanacho.

Goalkeeper Joe and defensive midfielder Fernando included; surely even the likes of Ronaldo & Bale would struggle to break down that ‘defensive 7’. That-then gives full licence for the attacking quartet of Kevin, Yaya, Fernandinho and Sergio to do some damage to them.

As I say, our manager will never go with a system never tried before in such a crucial game but, as I say, I just wanted to throw that one in for you…

Result? I think we’ll do ourselves proud in our performance and will even score on their patch; giving them some concern having failed to score at the Etihad.

However, they are so very, very strong in attack; particularly at home and with Ronaldo returning. A plucky, City performance ending in a defeat. Hope I’m wrong…


Huge congratulations to Leicester City for winning the Premier League with 2 games remaining! “Deserved” has been a word used over and over again in recent weeks and again on Monday night / yesterday and I echo that sentiment.


Done with a great spirit & determination that a lot of fans crave to see in their own players at their own clubs; it’s made the English footballing family sit up and take both notice and stock of their own house contents…


Friday, 29 April 2016

Fine balancing act against Southampton



0-0 after the first leg in the Champions League against Real Madrid; we’ve never been so close to the final of this prestigious competition. 

 

It’s important for us to, therefore, try to pick our strongest side on Wednesday night / protect our key players this weekend BUT…this clash on the South Coast is just as important in my book; it’s VITAL that we achieve a top-4 finish; preferably top 3…


My thoughts



In order to save time, I’ll simply ‘copy & paste’ my thoughts that I put down in a forum yesterday, which was on an article about just such a dilemma in terms of what strength team to pick with Wednesday night looming.

Yeah it's a balancing act but it shouldn't be TOO much of a concern to play key players needed for Madrid against Southampton too. I say that also because 3 points against the Saints is a MUST!

Of course we'd want to avoid (more) injuries, a risk I accept as a concern, but in terms of fatigue; I don't see it being much of an issue. Withdrawing key players around the 65-minute mark would be ideal if we are in a position to do so BUT these players will have a full day of rest (and perhaps some travel unless they do that Sunday night from London, which makes sense to do so to me) on Monday then a full 1-1/2 days training / prep work on Tuesday, Wednesday morning / early afternoon.

Yeah a Saturday KO on the South coast would have been far more preferable but I can't emphasize enough that this game is just as important as the one on Wednesday for our club going into next season. Strong side needed on Sunday for me...

v Southampton


Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

4-4-1-1:

____________________Aguero____________________




___________________Iheanacho__________________



Nasri___________________________________Sterling

____________Delph_________Fernandinho_________







_____________________Hart_____________________



Plenty of room for error in this predicted line-up…

Despite some City fans on-line calling for Joe not to be risked tomorrow evening, I just can’t see our manager agreeing with that.

Having started against Real on Tuesday and likely to start again this coming Wednesday; Gael & Bacary likely to be on the bench and, so, Aleks & Pablo should come in. In between those is likely to be Eliaquim & Nicholas as, unlike the ‘Joe thing’, I think Pellegrini will not risk Vinny for this one.

Some players will have to ‘go again’ and, so, alongside Fabian is likely to be Fernandinho. It’s a blessing, in a weird way, that Samir isn’t in the Champions League squad; we should, therefore, have a fresh and important player available for our league games. With the Frenchman on the left I think we’ll see Raheem on the opposite flank.

2 ‘up top’ I think for this one with Kelechi slightly behind Sergio, who I’m sure our manager would like to see come off no later than the 65-minute mark.

Willy as keeper cover; the afore mentioned Gael & Bacary alongside Martin as defensive insurance. Kevin on the side in case we need some added creativity; Jesus for some late pace / slightly rested for Wednesday Night's 'need for energy' and one striker option on Wilfried.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (not selected / rested / protected), Fernando (not selected / rested / protected) and Yaya Toure (only just recovering from an injury niggle).

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


Yep…if he goes with that I think it’s one with a good chance of coming away with 3, vital points as well as resting some key players for our trip to Spain and having the options there to withdraw some other vital players; swapping them with decent replacements too.

Result? In my 8-game, mini season piece a few weeks ago I had this one down as a draw. And the outcome this weekend depends a lot on which Southampton turn up. I find them to be a team who are hard to read a lot of the time and a last 10 of, W L L D W W L W D W is testimony to that.

Fatigue from our last game shouldn’t be an issue at all, having-had almost a full, 5-days’ rest.

But even if our manager picks a team that is well capable of coming away from St Mary’s with a win, I just wonder if some of the players, who will have to ‘go again’ just 3 days later, might just play with their foot 'lightly pressed on the gas pedal' on Sunday.

I’d love to say, “Win”…and I pray that’s the case of course. But, even as I’ve been typing this, I’ve been wobbling between that much-needed outcome and the one I predicted back on 22nd March and I’m afraid, all things considered with us-being wrapped up in the Champions League, the earlier prediction of a draw has come out on top in my head.