Saturday, 27 December 2014

Snow-covered icing on the cake…and Silva’s the cherry.

Wiped out from the previous day’s activities and indulgencies it was an even more genuine pleasure to sit in a darkened room and listen to the whole build up, match commentary and post-match analysis on the radio.

I’ve since seen the footage on TV, which served to confirm what Fred & Ian were drooling over - without strikers we looked (and continue to look) sublime, particularly in the first half yesterday.

Sign him up

Dynamite David
I’ve given special plaudits in the headline to David Silva already – the guy is simply brilliant and almost the complete midfielder; needing only (and I mean ONLY) a few more goals to his game to be RIGHT up there with the best. Perhaps, with very few bodies ahead of him in terms of striking colleagues, it’s all that he needed; he’s now capping off brilliant displays with goals too now; having netted 3 in the last 2 games.

Marvellous Milner
But I have to also single out a guy that is probably – and quite flippin’ rightly – currently bartering for every single penny and clause in his new Manchester City contract; a guy who could LITTERALLY play well anywhere and in every single game if asked. OH for just 1% of James Milners energy!

What a perfect choice it has turned out to be by our manager to chuck in James as an emergency ‘front man’. I’ve avoided using the word “striker” because, just as some ex-footballers / come pundits were slating Pellegrini for not giving an EDS striker a starting 11 chance during our striker-ravaged team; our ‘Engineer’ quietly put into place the now-obvious ideal fella to hustle ‘n’ bustle, hold up and run the line all day; allowing the more crafted midfielders behind him to pick their spots.

Pure genius from our manager…and I can hear the words of scathing, embittered Manyoo fans in my local a few weeks ago questioning, with poison-laced tongues, how we’d cope without Aguero.

With both Chelsea and now-increasingly-threatening Manyoo both winning yesterday too, we’ll need our manager to continue working on the sums and our players to carry on producing more of those first half performances (before the snows hit) to keep pace.

All change

Okay, perhaps not ALL change but even good batteries have to be taken out of the device at some stage.

And with David taking a worrying-looking knock barely 2 minutes into the second half yesterday that he managed to, thankfully, run off for before being substituted around 14 minutes later and with James having played the full 90+ ‘up top’ on his own just 6 days after playing 82 minutes against Crystal Palace…AND with Stevan Jovetic fit enough for the bench yesterday; it’s almost inevitable that yesterday’s team will get more than a little ‘tweaked’ for tomorrow’s visitors from Lancashire.

v Burnley

Predicted starting 11, subs and outcome...










Subs: Caballero, Clichy, Sagna, Demichelis, Fernando, Milner, Silva

Hart to ‘go again’…and get that late WBA-goal fumble out of his system ASAP, which will have irked the England number 1.

All change on the flanks of the defence, with Manuel Pellegrini stating that ‘home’ is more suited to the more attacking defenders of Aleks and Pablo on most occasions. Here comes the predictable rotation again – I just hope is doesn’t affect Clichy’s form again…

Martin is in great form
I’m going to stick my neck out here in the middle of the defence – Mangala is young enough and should have enough power in him to play 2 games in 48 hours (which is old, OLD school fixture timescales) but with Martin, I’m guessing that it’ll be just a bit TOO much for the Argentine international. Boyata to ‘step in’ (yikes!) for the player who put in another very fine display in front of Joe Hart yesterday.

We should see a swap of the ‘Ferns’ here and although Fernandinho likes to be more attack minded, he’s been increasingly good of late ‘protecting’ too and, I’m sure, will be given those very instructions once more.

Ahead of him will be 3 players who I think will have to put in another shift, which won’t be an issue for Jesus and SHOULDN’T be too much of a problem for Samir either.

According to reports from yesterday Yaya had a fairly decent game that simply…‘ticked over’ for the Ivorian. To me it sounded to me like he was shifting between 2nd & 3rd gears and so he should have enough in the tank to put in 60 minutes at least against The Clarets. Frank doesn’t get many starts but, unless I’m REALLY wrong with this precautionary call here, I think we’ll see the ex-England man replace David for this one before another home game just 72 hours later.

We know Milner could put in another shift but I’m going for the returning Jovetic to resume duties up front, at least for the first 60 minutes or so.

It’s a strong bench with a goalkeeper that must be counting the days before the F.A. Cup tie at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Boxing Day’s left & right backs Clichy & Sagna to be on the side just in case and likewise Demichelis.

Fernando to step aside for his fellow countryman and probably WHEN Steven gets withdrawn on his comeback game, we have excellent replacements in David & James.

(Update / newsflash - 11:16am GMT: Vincent Kompany possibly available for tomorrow's game)

Result? You could say 1 win in 6 games and laying joint-second-bottom on points is MORE than an indication that Burnley are struggling at the moment. And you’d be right. However, Sean Dyche’s men appear to be solidifying of late; finally hardening to the Premier League if you like.

Either side of a 1-0 home win to Southampton they only conceded 1 goal in each of their creditable draws against Aston Villa & Newcastle United and in their defeats at White Heart Lane and at home to Liverpool yesterday; they only lost by 1 goal. In other words…they’re not a team who gets completely mullered.

And so although they TOO had to put in a heavy shift yesterday against last season’s Premier League runners up; we’ll need to be our devastating selves once again to overcome these, even at home.

If my predicted starting 11 is correct, I have to say that I am a little concerned with our defence in that Kolarov and Zabaleta will want to – and will have been instructed to I’m sure – support the attack down the wings where possible. Not necessarily an issue if we had Kompany, Demichelis and Fernando ‘in there’ to cover but, with my predicted line-up at least, we won’t.

I expect Burnley to be up for the fight; I expect them to, perhaps, try to bully us a little (this will be a gritty one at times I’m sure) and I expect them to defend in numbers. But I also expect them to lose. Another 3 points to City.

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