Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Community Shield

Glorified friendly or pride and first silverware? I personally think it lies somewhere in between.

And the man who counts most, Manuel Pellegrini, says that, “…it’s not a friendly match; it’s an important game against an important team as Arsenal”.

My opinion

For me this one shouldn’t be dismissed as readily as a lot of modern-day footy fans seem to but, on the other hand, nor should it be taken too seriously if your team loses by a few goals. For me…yes it’s a final ‘barometer check’ on your team before the big KO but you should also look at the personnel available on the day and where they are ‘at’ in their pre-season workout and then take a balanced view at the end of the game.

I also go along with the theory that winning games becomes a habit AND walking up those steps to collect ANY trophy at Wembley in front of thousands in the stadium and millions around the world must give your players a real buzz and lift a week before their first game of the season.

Community Shield
For us, going into this one-off, trophy-winning fixture they’ll be no Pablo Zabaleta, Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, Martin Demichelis, (Eliaquim Mangala?), Fernandinho, Frank Lampard, Sergio Aguero or Alvaro Negredo (Injured) and most of them would, of course, be first choice for our manager in most Premier League games. So yeah…that’s a heck of a lot out and, so, must be taken into consideration whatever the result.

2012 winners

But as one newspaper recently published we have SUCH a good squad – even better than last season – we could quite easily field two VERY good ‘first 11s’ and I totally agree with that.

So, on the one hand it could be difficult to predict my first ‘starting 11’ for this ‘curtain raiser’ but on the other - and with so many players not featuring - it perhaps should be quite easy.

v Arsenal

Formation: 4-4-2











From back to front…

I think our Engineer will want to give Willy his first flavour of playing against Premier League opposition and in an English stadium. What a perfect opportunity.

Experienced and experience
With no Zaba or Sagna the left and right backs pick themselves – Clichy having somewhat surprisingly very good games at right-back in pre-season.

With so many central defenders Matija certainly gets the nod; Karim, in my opinion, is the better of the two in direct competition with Dedryck. Personally I’d like to see Jason Denayer on the bench ahead of Boyata with whom I (still) have concerns about…

Micah to, possibly, be given a final, FINAL bow for the Blues.

The 5th defender...
It certainly is going to be a flimsy defence - as pre-season has proven - but certainly, therefore, a very good workout for both Willy and Fernando. And so…

…Fernando indeed as the ‘anchor’ and I‘ve gone for Yaya to blow an early, post-‘cake gate’ storm from his system - I think his manager will know that he’ll need to ‘get one out of the way’ ASAP.

I’ve gone for David on the left as I’m not sure Samir Nasri has FULLY recovered from a pre-season setback between Scotland and the U.S.; Jesus had an explosive pre-season and easily gets in the starting 11 for me.

In form and good season awaits...
Stevan to continue his predicted fine form and so partners Edin up front; playing slightly deeper with fluid overlapping with Silva and Toure I’m sure.

As well as Joe on the bench Dedryck will, I’m sure, get ahead of Denayer. I was going to go for Sinclair to get another ‘shop window’ opportunity (and he might) but I’ve gone for Pellegrini to possibly give Zuculini a flavour of playing on English soil.

Milner & Nasri are almost certain ‘bench men’ and with no Alvaro or Sergio; John Guidetti is automatic “subs” choice…a word that must haunt him almost as much as “injury”.

Great signing - Should have been a Blue...
As for Arsenal…well I’ve not looked TOO deeply into their preparations for this one but of the 4 pre-season signings made so far, the HUGE stand out one is, of course, Alexis Sanchez. He will certainly test our softer centre [of defence] and being predominantly right-sided (although he can switch and is versatile); Kolarov will have to forget his stronger ‘going forward’ tendencies for the most part and for once…DEFEND LIKE CRAZY!

Needs to be sharp!
It won’t help whinging Arsene that Thomas Vermaelen has all but left his side; being, as he is, on the verge of joining Barcelona (having had his route to Stretford Rangers blocked by his boss).

They are short, in my opinion, of a couple of defenders (certainly one good centre half) and an out & out striker in my opinion. But, like both us and Chelsea, they have a phenomenal list of players ‘across the middle’ when all fully fit. How close they all are to ‘full throttle’ I just don’t know…

Result? With both defences a little weakened there should be goals aplenty. I’ve got a feeling that it’ll be 2-2 or even 3-3 at full time and will be decided on pens…and going off pre-season I can only hope that they’ve been putting in plenty of extra practice (and that they DON’T allow Micah to take one until the very end if absolutely necessary)…

Update (1:56pm): Bruno Zuculini to Sunderland on loan (instead of Valencia)? That's the rumour...

But will the game go ahead?

The forecast, albeit still being assessed, is looking decidedly dodgy for Sunday to say the least. Ex-hurricane Bertha come tropical storm is heading our way and the once-weakening storm is gathering more energy as it crosses ‘the pond’ and slams into the UK.

The forecasters are still not 100% sure who’ll get hit the worse and exactly what time on Sunday it will unleash its fury. But it will be mid-morning to late afternoon sometime when a large part of the country will get rocked and, for me, there’s a small chance the game could well be cancelled.

I hope not for the travelling fans of course; I’ve chosen to sit this one out for several reasons and, in my place, is my season-card-holding friend and his partner. Pete’s never been to Wembley to see City (or anyone for that matter) and the 59-year old (sorry Pete) is like an excited child in a toy store!

Last February - Hold on to your hats!
And although Wembley does have – and will use I’m sure – the retractable roof; I’m reminded of the last time we experienced very high winds on a match day. If memory serves wheelie bins and fence panels were swirling around in February of this year when the Police, quite rightly, called off the match due to it being unsafe for travelling supporters.

If so, I can’t imagine anything other than a full (fan) refund – surely the game won’t get postponed and played in midweek…

Jack gone…Javi next?

So Mr Injury-prone has left for Sunderland. Although the man himself has said that he wasn’t injured for most of last season - stopping just short of saying ‘I just wasn’t getting games at Manchester City’ but has, sort of, issued a warning to other young English stars thinking of a move to the Etihad – I think we’ve done well to get £10M for someone who clearly does struggle with on-going niggles (or worse).

At just turned 23 time is definitely on the players side and if he can (or has) seen the worst of his injuries behind him; The Black Cats do have an excellent player on their hands and one, who, can play for England many times in the future, fortune permitting.

I say, “Good luck fella”…

So, Garcia to follow Rodwell out of the door? With Fernando, Fernandinho, Milner and Toure at the club you’d flippin’-well think so, wouldn’t you?

Hope so too; even some improvement last season saw mostly 6/10 performances from the Spaniard. Just not good enough and if we can get £12.5M from Zenit St Petersburg then that’s a whopping income of cash from just two players with, possibly, Micah and Scott at the very least to follow soon I’m sure.

Money in the bank / financial fair play appeased or are we lining up, as I’ve been banging on about recently, a bid for Isco or Manyoo-linked Di Maria?

Other incomings?

And what about these (once again) persistent rumours about Falcao joining us…on loan? Not sure what that one’s all about…

As for the never-ending saga that it Eliaquim Mangala, it turns out that it might not be his girlfriend’s living & shopping location issues and that it might not be an extended holiday (for someone who didn’t even make an appearance in the World Cup in a team that came home after the quarter finals).

No, instead the latest story is that it’s been on-going discussions with his hard-nosed, difficult-to-deal-with club, Porto, and our payment details. Apparently we’ve now agreed £30M ‘up front’ with ‘add-ons’.

He SHOULD be arriving Monday…or Tuesday. Huhhhh…

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