Although fairly organised all things ‘Christmas prep’-wise and work, for me at least, finishing on 23rd December; it’s been a busy ol’ few days. And with some last minute house chores and food groundwork still to be done today before the day’s celebrations begin, I hope you’ll forgive a fairly small, pre-game Blog.
Play it (almost) again
With Vinny and Stevan out for a few more days to, perhaps, a week (although a misprint in the Manchester Evening News the other day had a possible return date for Steven as 28th January rather than 28th December, which then caused me to pass on the same incorrect information to a fellow Blue) and with still no Edin or Sergio; you’d have to pretty much assume a similar 11 and formation for our trip to The Hawthorns.
v West Bromwich Albion
Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome…
Specifically: 4-2-1-3-0 / Basically: 4-6-0:
Joe to start.
With no clue as to why Gael didn’t even feature on the bench against
last Saturday, I can only assume
that he was simply given a big rest after a long spell in the team in Alek’s
absence (Update: 'twas a foot injury). Therefore…well rested, I think he’ll start away from home on Friday.
Eliaquim and Martin to continue their partnership in our skip’s absence and of the 2 right backs, I think our manager will go with Pablo
again – I could be wrong; he might
give Bacary a go for this one. Crystal Palace
We are away from home and so I have to think that, still without any recognised, first team strikers; we’ll slightly change the new system from last weekend’s game; drop slightly deeper with 2 defensive midfielders in Fernando & Fernandinho but to counter that move; push Yaya slightly more into an attacking position behind a deep-lying but attacking trio of Samir, David and Jesus.
I just get the feeling that Manuel will be aware that his opposite number will have studied how we adapted and played against Neil Warnock’s men and will want to alter it slightly. Sadly for him, that decision will mean James dropping to the bench for this one if I’m right.
So joining the man still in negotiations over a new contract is Willy, Bacary (again, I think), Aleks (who I’m sure will be used at home against Burnley on 28th December as the left-back rotation will, no doubt, start again), Dedryck, Frank and Thierry.
Albion are in pretty dreadful form with only 2 wins in
their last 10 league games; 5 defeats in the last 7. They don’t appear to
concede TOO many - of those defeats none have been particularly heavy; before
their 3-2 reverse away at QPR they conceded no
more than 2 against the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
They’re a tight, fairly organised outfit throughout and I recon that if they had more of a goal threat in them (although I’m certainly not dismissing Saido Berahino), then some of those defeats would have been draws for sure and at least. They also have dangerous, pacy wingers to be wary of (hence the extra cover in ‘the Ferns’ and
‘in there’ for this one). Clichy
At home they’ll prove tough opposition and will want to pull away from their precarious position of being just 2 points above the relegation zone. As predicted against Palace last Saturday, I think it’ll be a close affair early on and perhaps even into the second half but, as with that game, I still think that we’ll have too much for them in the end.
Joleon will be key here…but to OUR advantage I think. Sure he knows our players very well and will have clocked-up multiple hours in training, defending against them at Carrington.
However, with no striker to mark and with attacks, therefore, coming from several sources and from all angles; I think it’ll leave the ex-City man and his defensive colleagues floundering and taking risks as the game progresses.
Tight at first…but it’s a fairly comfortable away win in the end.
Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are, have a GREAT Christmas / holiday time!