Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Frustrating opportunity missed

Well I think the players, the Management Team and all City fans alike would like to get the irritations of the Burnley game out of our system as soon as possible – I suppose that’s ONE good thing about such a packed fixture schedule.


As one Manyoo fan informed me at work yesterday, only Arsenal came out of the ‘2 games in 48 hours’ thing with maximum points and so at least we can share annoyances with quite a number of other teams – misery loves company…

So what DID go wrong? Well I was there, of course, and…well, we simply didn’t come out of the traps in the second half and Burnley did. While The Clarets looked like they’d had an injection of something good at the interval, we looked like we HAD some claret, had a little snooze and were-then struggling to wake up from our slumber!

All the players struggled and then faded further in the second half - and as some of the players weren’t exactly starting from good positions in the first half anyway (I’m thinking Kolarov in particular here) - there were some woeful performances when you look back at the whole 90+.

I don’t want to particularly overstate our loss; we didn’t play terrible and we most certainly bossed large parts of the first half once Burnley had a decent 10-minute pop at us. But it is, however, a little concerning that Sean Dyche can pick the same 11 that battled Liverpool just 48 hours earlier and then see his men run and run with Milner-like energy as we, in comparison, looked a little like stuffed turkeys.

Hart’s having another “moment” it would appear. Following his fumble at The Hawthorns Burnley’s first goal should have been stopped by Joe. It was soft. I’m sure he’ll get another crack against Sunderland tomorrow but with Willy no doubt getting a run-out against Sheffield Wednesday in the F.A. Cup on Sunday he’d better up his game against the Mackems.

Zaba was slightly off by his standards and after some very good performances, Demichelis (or “De Michaels” as our taxi driver called him on our way to the ground) had a lesser game too; although was probably the best City defender on the day. Mangala looked, not for the first time this season, rattled and out of sorts most of the time - his (very) slow improvement of late took a shuddering halt that’s for sure.

Huhhhhh…Kolarov. I’m sick to death of moaning about this fella. I mean, it was hardly his ‘comeback game’ was it? Since his fairly lengthy time out with injury he had a full game against Palace and then a 28-minute go against WBA. So why so rusty? He looked awkward on the ball either attacking or defending, his passing was woeful and decision making non-existent! The guy, for the most part, is a complete clown! Very generous of the M.E.N. to give him an “average” 5/10.

Fernandinho had a decent game and, unlike his colleagues, steadily grew into the game. City’s MotM for me. Fernando, however, looked jaded.

Navas was his lively and dangerous self in the first half and like James Milner; he USUALLY has the staying power. On Sunday, however, he didn’t.

Nasri was fairly decent and was probably our second best player on the day; Silva had a poor one in general and, by his very high standards, a shocker! His passing radar in particular had short circuited in the cold December air…

Milner’s endeavour was there for all to see but even HIS sharpness looked to have been blunted; he was certainly less effective than of late.

So I was looking to our subs (Jovetic, Lampard & Sinclair) to inject some much-needed thrust to our ailing second half performance. Nothing – they looked as out of sorts as the rest.

I do give Burnley credit though – they were up for it and apart from not looking like a side packed FULL of class; they did zip the ball around with confidence and it wasn’t ALL about ‘the running’ from them. A draw, it has to be said, was a fair result.

Moving on…

Hopefully a good combination of hydro-tanks, oxygen tents, some rest and a good couple of training sessions will get us back on track. They cannot grumble at all either – while other teams are travelling all over the country in whatever weather conditions during this busy fixture period, our lads have been - and are still firmly - entrenched on home territory. No excuses.

We do still have injuries to some very key players of course and for that I do have to make allowances [for our Sunday blip]. And with those absentees in mind, here’s my last predicted line-up, subs and outcome of 2014.

v Sunderland











Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Boyata, Fernando, Lampard, Jovetic

Hart to have his last game before, I’m sure, a Sunday on the side-line.

Although our manager sees the Frenchman as more of an away left back in his ‘rotation of’; Gael to come in after an poor showing from Aleks. Similarly, I think Bacary will step in at home for the somewhat jaded-looking Pablo. Eliaquim and Martin to continue in the absence of Vinny, who looks to have stalled in his rehab.

Fernandinho will probably get rewarded for a decent display against Burnley; keeping Fernando on the bench for this one. He’ll be providing the cover ahead of rested Yaya and the ‘go again’ trio of Samir, David and Jesus.

With 3 days rest, that’ll be all James will need to be back to his lone-line-leading role once again; as the recovering Stevan sits on the bench once more.

Joining Fernando and Stevan is F.A. Cup-assured Willy, Aleks, Pablo, central defensive cover in Dedryck & ‘Lamps’.

Result? We’ve had our disappointment and although I’m going for an early scare as some doubts linger in the minds; I’m going for quite an emphatic, “Happy New Year” win here!

I’m going away for a few days soon after this game and so they’ll be no post-Sunderland Blog entry and no pre-Sheffield Wednesday posting either; a game I will sadly miss.

Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read - please feel free to pass this Blog on to fellow Blues and have a GREAT New Year’s Eve and 2015!

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.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Another 3, Boxing Day points would be a very nice, additional Christmas prezzy indeed.

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 Crystal Palace 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.

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.

Result? 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 Clichy ‘in there’ for this one).

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!

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Circumstances mean that I’m having to post a Blog entry quite early before this weekend’s game and, therefore, I’m feeling in the dark a little with regards to who might be and might not be available to face Crystal Palace.

It’s (probably) all in the midfield

In addition to ‘no Vincent Kompany’; we definitely have ‘no Sergio Aguero’ and ‘no Edin Dzeko’. Most likely out too is Steven Jovetic. So, with the well-publicised shortage of forwards / strikers, will our manager give another lone-staring-roll to EDS forward Jose Angel Pozo or does he try a little something different? No disrespect to the youngster; personally I’d try something new.

For all our injuries to key players at the back and up front what we DON’T seem to have at the moment is any issues at all, as far as I am aware, with any of our midfielders…so why not let us take advantage of that and give Neil Warnock’s men something different to think about?

Palace will I’m sure, after all, pack the middle and use their pacy runs to hit us on the break; as we’ve often seen them do to very good effect against teams of all sizes and abilities.

Here’s what I’d go with…










And d’ya know what, I’m going to use this as my predicted line-up & subs for Saturday’s early KO (12:45pm GMT).

Hart in net and a pretty much forced back-4 with Clichy playing well, Zaba rested in the last game and the grand-master next to the expensive apprentice.

Fernando providing the shield and although similar with Fernandinho, in this line-up I think he can also be given licence to attack down the middle with Yaya. Creative wizardry and pace on the flanks with Nasri & Navas and in a deep-lying striker / advanced midfield role, our little Spanish genius Silva.

There’s ‘goal potential’ all over the place there…

Result? Key to this is that our injury hit squad have had a good week’s rest; good time to heal any minor issues and assess everyone. Of course Crystal Palace have had the same amount of ‘time out’ too…but I think we needed it more.

They do have a chance of getting Manyoo loanee Wilfried Zaha back after recovering from a knock and aside from him, they’re almost at full strength. This will be a test even at home believe me.

But with that wealth of talent in our midfield – and if used like or similar to this – then we should have way too much for them over all. And we have the ability to introduce differing threats in Milner, Lampard and Pozo from the bench.

I do have concerns that Yaya might not be at his most fully effective in such a compact centre (from both teams); I’ve noticed that he often prefers a little more room around him to be at his damaging best. It might be close for a while but I’m going for a fairly comfortable win in the end.

January window rumours

Speculation is mounting on possible transfer targets for January and a lot seem to be concentrating on the midfield…with even a little emphasis on the defence too.

That all seems quite strange considering the lack of striking option that we have but the most persistent rumours seemed to be surrounding two Real Madrid ‘middle men’, in German international, defensive midfielder Sami Khedira and Spanish international, attacking / creative midfielder Isco.

Sami sounds like a very good player…but I understand the link to us following the very recent acquisition of Fernando.

Isco, yeah, and it’s a link that just won’t go away season after season. Another tricky, creative midfielder with goals in him and at just 23 years of age (in April) it’s something Chelsea ‘would do’ and it would do us no harm at all. Having worked with our manager in the past and if game-time is an issue for him at Real then it’s almost inevitable that the young Spaniard will join us as some stage. Weather that’ll be in January remains to be seen of course.

Koke of Atletico Madrid is another attacking midfielder / winger recently linked with a move to the Etihad as is, once again, Paul Pogba of Juventus.

Wesley Sneijder would appear to be on the move again and out of Galatasaray – is it a surprise that along with Manyoo and Southampton we’ve also been put in the frame? As with Isco & Pogba, not really…

Midfield certainly is, as I say, the focus of all the speculation at the moment, although the high asking price of Everton’s Ross Barkley seems to have quelled that particular link for the time being at least.

Despite splashing out so much money on steadily improving Eliaquim Mangala, it’s obvious – if not a little disappointing – to most that the centre of defence is something that still needs fixing.

With Martin Demichelis getting no younger (of course), Matija Nastasic forever seemingly injured, not wanted by Pellegrini AND being linked with several teams abroad; with no real confidence being shown by our manager in Dedryck Boyata and with Vinny showing MORE signs of his continued injury issues that have plagued him year on year, we are told that we’re about to join the frantic race to sign Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels. However, if we are in the market for him then a summer bid is more likely to succeed…and I’ve got an awful feeling that, somehow, Manyoo might pip us to his signature.

Gossip hasn’t complete gone away from the striking department however, with Edinson Cavani (I want him!), Zlatan Ibrahimovic ('getting on' but a more-than-decent alternative if PSG won't let Edinson go), Mauro Icardi (exciting, young prospect already banging in the goals), Wilfried Bony (knows the Prem; strong but seems to blow hot 'n' cold), Christian Benteke (too injury prone for me), and the still-injured Jay Rodriguez (if he's over his injury soon then he ticks several boxes) all having their names printed with the words “Manchester City” soon afterwards. Some we can almost completely forget for January in my opinion; with some of them involved in important European campaigns for their own clubs.

It’s also difficult to see us spending TOO much in the winter window but if we can (finally) offload unwanted trio Matija Nastasic, Scott Sinclair and John Guidetti (£15M for the three?) at the very least then that’ll help.

Other stuff:

Barcelona in the draw for the Champions League hey? Huh…who’d have predicted that?

Negotiations appear to have stalled slightly in agreeing a new deal with, strangely enough, Barcelona-predicting, James Milner. Unlike my feeling surrounding the acquisition of Mat Hummels, I’m much more confident that James (and Joe Hart) will sign new deals very soon.

Is anyone else getting completely fed up to say the least of listening to Frozen’s ‘Let it go’ song nearly every…single…time you turn on the flippin’ TV or click on a WEB page? I’ve provided a link there myself but click on it at your own peril – it’ll be in your mind for DAYS!

Thanks as always for taking the time to read.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Putting this one out there...

With Aguero most likely out for at least another 5 or 6 weeks, Dzeko probably at least 4 and Jovetic now possibly out for a fortnight, it got me thinking about a possible - and realistic - January target.

Let's pip old 'arry to this one

He's managed him before and is, apparently, sniffing around him with a possible move in January. And if his current overseas club are WILLING to let him go then we could do far worse than make a move for...Jermain Defoe.

He ticks all the boxes:

* He knows the Premier League very well

* Wherever he plays he always hovers somewhere between a 1 in 2 / 1 in 3 goals-per-game rate

* At just turned 32, Jermain still has decent pace

* More importantly...he's English.

With F(not so)FP to consider, we also have to bare in mind that we already have our full quota of foreign players. This move is, therefore, an absolute 'no brainer' really.

Being only 1 year into a 4 year deal with Toronto FC, even at 32 the Canadian club would command a reasonably high asking price for the ex-England striker. But I'm sure it's something we could afford - and afford with the restrictive ruling in mind - and with a quick word or two in the ear from Frank Lampard; I'm sure fellow Londoner Jermain could be tempted to join the champions of England.

Step forward midfielders...literally

I'm convinced that, for the next few weeks at least, we have enough in our midfield locker to more than cope. We certainly have the creativity and, I believe, the goals 'in there' to tick along nicely up to Christmas and into the new year. And, to be honest, a 4-5-1 / fluid 4-6-0 quite excites me (as long as it yields results of course).

But with our injury record at the moment we can't rely on that for too long - an injury to Yaya (and we're about to lose him to the African Cup of Nations in January anyway); Super goal-poacher Frank or another breakdown with the highly creative David and we could really start to struggle without a recognised, out & out striker.

Although we might have to offer the ex-Charlton Athletic youth, West Ham, Bournemouth, Tottenham and Portsmouth man a 3-year deal and similar weekly wage to the one he's on in Canada (and a map of how to get to places North of Watford), the acquisition of Jermain makes PERFECT sense to me - he'd THRIVE on the service our players can provide!

He has just had, in November, corrective surgery to solve a groin / hernia issue and so, I suppose, that's a risk. But IF the problem has been corrected and he's now on the road to recovery, go get him City...

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Back down to earth

After a very good performance over all against Roma and an EXCELLENT outcome, we need our lads to now show the fighting spirit exhibited against Everton last weekend.

Leicester City may be struggling at the bottom of the league with no wins in 10 or more games but they’ll be looking to change that at home against the Champions.

Another brief one folks…

In between work and Christmas-related stuff it’s proving a little difficult to find too much time to ‘post’ at the moment. So with that excuse, I give you another ‘straight to it’ predicted line-up and outcome for tomorrow’s fairly rare, 3:00pm (GMT) Saturday KO. This one has a ‘stick or twist’ element to it.

v Leicester City

4-4-1-1 / 4-5-1:










Stick: Joe in net

Twist: Recovery most likely fully complete, I get an awful feeling that our manager will be tempted to give Clichy a rest on Saturday and insert Kolarov instead. For several reasons that I won’t go into I think that would be a mistake and so I hope my gut feeling is wrong.

Stick: Still showing signs of naivety and rawness against Roma at times, I was tempted to suggest that Pellegrini my play Demichelis instead of the French powerhouse. However, I just wonder if Martin’s legs might be in need of a rest after Wednesday’s exertions?

Twist: Kompany to return.

Twist: I hate to suggest that Manuel might almost completely change a back line that’s only conceded 1 goal in the last 4 games…but that’s what my ‘spider sense’ is telling me. Zaba to be rested too for the ‘itching to get a game’, I’m sure, Bacary Sagna.

Stick: Fernandinho is improving game on game and will probably get the nod ahead of Fernando. And although…

Twist: …the pair had a decent game together against Roma, Yaya to step back into the team after his European suspension.

Stick: Nasri is having one of the best runs-of-form I can recall and so must surely start.

Stick: Likewise Milner…although he may have to shuffle over to the right, replacing Navas who didn’t exactly have a good one in midweek.

Twist: The magician is back! David looked lively as always when he came on and with no Aguero at the moment, he’ll fit in perfectly in an advanced position in a 4-4-1-1. I just hope his return doesn’t see a downturn in Nasri’s performance and form – we’ve seen that before when both play…

Twist: If our ‘Engineer’ does his maths correctly then he must surely see that the more fluid, hardworking and creative remaining forward is Stevan and not Edin. Surely…

Strong bench, as it often is these days, and we might need to change it to break down a very determined, I’m sure, home side eager to stop the rot.

Result? I’ve rarely been so torn in my thinking between a vey close game that we might have to settle for a very frustrating point against the bottom side…and a ‘confidence is high’, absolute rout against Nigel Pearson’s men.

So I’ll go for an in-betweener – a scarily close one that we will eventually win by changing and ‘mixing it up’ throughout the second half.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

v Roma

Having spent some CONSIDERABLE time posting my last Blog entry and uploading pictures etc., I hope you can appreciate that I only intend to do a short pre-Roma posting.


And with team news only trickling in and being speculative at best, I’m not claiming this to be one of my most accurate predictions…


The team

Straight to it then really – predicted starting 11, subs and outcome for Wednesday's game...
Hart to continue in net.
Clichy, similarly, and I’m going for Vinny to have recovered enough to get selected ahead of Mangala. I say Mangala because I’m going for our manager to go for the experience of the Argentine over the pace and strength of the Frenchman. His pace and energy might be required later on in the game. Zaba on the right.
Before a couple of days ago I have to admit that I wasn’t aware of Yaya being suspended for this one. However, suspended he is and so Fernando and the recovering Fernandinho to play centre stage.
Milner left, Samir ‘just behind’ and the pacy Navas on the right. Dzeko to start ahead of the recovering (also) Jovetic.
Strong-looking bench – in addition to Willy the defensive flanks are covered with Kolarov & Sagna; with the extra option of Alek’s wing-play / crosses and free kicks. Lampard to add his vast European experience and assist / goal threat and in addition to Stevan being fit enough for the bench, I’m going for David to be likewise.
Result? Although at home I think they will sit deep; defend in a very organised way, try to draw us out and then hit us on the counter. It’ll be a very close first half.
We need to score first to stop them from deploying their plan to good effect and I think we WILL score…eventually. Sadly I think they will also but as long as we can maintain a score draw, we only need Bayern to beat CSKA at home to then go through. A score draw it is then and, so, into the last 16 we go!

Domestic cup draw

Sheffield Wednesday at home in the F.A. Cup isn’t a bad one…