Monday, 2 December 2013

An almost perfect Sunday.

3 points, 3 goals and a clean sheet. Perfect. Spurs & Manyoo drawing – perfect. Liverpool losing to Hull Tigers City – perfect. Only Chelsea/Southampton spoilt Sunday ever so slightly; a draw would have been…perfect.

He’s back!

For the majority of the games this season Samir has been showing signs of getting back to his best. I suggested as much at the start of the season; when he’s happy…he’s on fire!

That was a performance that we grew accustomed to in his first season after his transfer from Arsenal; it’s almost like having another David Silva at times. In fact there are suggestions from some that both he and Silva don’t work as well together and that’s part of the reason he’s flourishing in recent weeks [while David has been out injured]. I disagree; they work on opposite flanks (or at least far enough apart) most of the time – it’s not like we talking about 2 players who work close-alongside each other in the middle (although they could) like the old Ali Benarbia / Eyal Berkovic debate of years ago.

He was sublime yesterday and Yaya too has to be given huge credit for a fine performance too, where he linked up with our illuminated French star.

Apart from a minor wobble or perhaps two, just how good were the defence yesterday? I thought Demichelis stood out in particular; he’s proving to be the first-rate cover Pellegrini was hoping for. He covered, blocked, tackled, pass well and generally orchestrated throughout.

My ratings:

Pantilimon:      7
Clichy:             7
Lescott:           7
Demichelis:     8
Zabaleta:         7.5
Fernandinho:   6.5
Toure:              8
Nasri:               9 (MotM)
Navas:             8
Negredo:         8.5
Aguero:           8

Milner:             7
Kolarov:           6
Dzeko:             6

That’s better.

I have to mention the atmosphere yesterday. There’s been plenty of debate on Manchester City’s new forum, City Voice, recently about the lack of atmosphere and/or inventiveness of the so-called singing section at the Etihad. Yesterday was much, much better both volume and fan-participation-wise; not bad considering there were 1,246 empty seats yesterday. But c’mon lads and girls; can we not PLEASE come up with some new songs/chants?

Couldn’t see any inflatables this time yesterday though…

Now for the real tests…

Without wanting to sound disrespectful at all; I never thought I’d be calling trips to both West Bromwich Albion and Southampton ‘real tests’ when it came to Premier League opposition, even away fixtures against those teams. I would hope that Baggies and Saints fans would understand if I reserved that phrase more for trips to the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and…oh go on then, Manyoo.

But with our away form being has shoddy as it is this season - and with both the Midlands and South coast clubs being no pushovers these days (particularly The Saints it has to be emphasised) - ‘real tests’ are exactly what these next two fixtures are, ahead of our home game against Arsenal on 14th December.

So how are we looking and what will the side be against The Baggies.

Predicted line-up:












Subs:  Hart, Kolarov, Richards, Kompany, Rodwell, Milner, Dzeko.

Why change? I don’t think he will. Yes there’s an argument away form home to drop Navas and ‘tuck in’ James Milner to add more steely work-rate to the centre of midfield. But I say again; why change?

Although slightly cautious against us, I’m sure, at home West Brom should try to play their normal game and go for a home win. So if we play to our strengths; in theory at least, we should expose them readily at the back.

We’re in form and those players are high on confidence at the moment. Key players were withdrawn early enough against Swansea too; to ensure that they were suitably rested and injury free. And so I think our manager will employ a, ‘don’t fix what isn’t broken’ mentality against WBA.

I think the subs might look a little more defensive; I also think Kompany might see some action in order to try to ready himself ahead of tougher games against Southampton and Arsenal. He might come off the bench if the game is playing out right.

Not sure why Guidetti didn’t make the bench at home to Swansea. But if he was fit and still didn’t feature at home; then I doubt he’ll get a look-in at the only ground where he’s ever played first team football for Manchester City, a little over 3 years ago.

So that’s what I think he’ll go with...but let’s have a quick look at a viable alternative for Wednesday night.

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










Subs:  Hart, Kolarov, Richards, Kompany, Rodwell, Negredo, Dzeko.

Prediction? On the form we’re in – albeit home form of course – surely we’ll come away with 3 points. If we can get at least 7 points from the next 9 (winning at home to Arsenal) then that will be a nice, early Christmas present to us all.

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