After such a terrific start to our Premier League season, I never thought just a couple of weeks later I’d be suggesting that a good win in the 3rd round of the League Cup could be used to get us back on track following two back-to-back, 2-1 home defeats.
But here we are and I’m saying it…
v Sunderland – straight to it…
Predicted line-up, subs and result…
I could be WELL wide of the mark here; easily the most-unsure prediction I’ve made this season so far.
But I have to go with my instincts and in a VERY different-looking back 5 (keeper included); here are my reasons…
The easy one is Caballero for Hart – If the Argentine doesn’t get a start in the League Cup then when will he EVER get a start?!
I’ve got a strong feeling that not-only will our manager like to give some experience to the highly rated EDS right-back Pablo Maffeo but also, with Pablo Zabaleta out, Pellegrini would love the opportunity to give Bacary Sagna a rest before both Premier & Champions League matches ‘kick in’ again.
And, so, with me nailing that particular theory firmly to the mast; switching to the other side and it’s EXACTLY the same scenario with regards to Aleksandar Kolarov and the injured Gael Clichy. And so I’ve gone for our manager choosing, also, EDS left-back Ashley Smith-Brown. I don’t even know if the young left-back is fit / injury free and so I could be setting myself up for a RIGHT fall here…
In the middle of the defence it should be a little easier [to get right] as niggly injuries to both Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala should ensure a starting place for the Argentine pairing of Martin Demichelis & Nicolas Otamendi. That’s three Argentines in the ‘back 5’ with a combined age of 94.
Fernando should swap with his similar but longer-named colleague and in the middle of a change to 4-4-2, I think, is Kevin De Bruyne; who sort of takes on the Yaya Toure role.
On the flanks in this system I think he’ll stick with Raheem Sterling on the left but will quite likely give a starting place to new signing [from Fulham] Patrick Roberts, who has been getting some great reports form the youth teams in his short City career so far.
They've gotta start banging in the goals; they need confidence and so I’m going for a starting pair of Sergio Aguero & Wilfried Bony. Shame for Kelechi Iheanacho in some ways that his two striking colleagues HAVEN’T been firing because, otherwise, I think he’d have started this one (he still might of course…)
These kind of matches always seem to provide a fairly strong bench…and this one is in some ways. England’s Number 1 on the bench; Kolarov & Sagna as defence-flanking cover in case needed, Toure to provide a game-changing, dangerous threat should that be required also and I’m hopeful of Iheanacho seeing 30 minutes+ with positive results.
A youngster as central defensive insurance in highly rated, local lad Cameron Humphreys…and Jesus Navas in case we want to watch a “Run Forrest, Run!” moment or two.
Notable absences: Gael Clichy (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Eliaquim Mangala (injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Fernandinho (not selected), Fabian Delph (injured), David Silva (injured) and Samir Nasri (injured).
Not 100% sure on the Nasri situation – he might well be fit enough for the bench and MAY, even, have recovered enough for a starting place tonight. Pre-match ‘press stuff’ appears to be sketchier than usual…
Result? Losing the last two games will help us here in some ways – Pellegrini looked as miffed as ‘the cool cucumber’ can possibly look after the second defeat in 4 days. He’ll want to rectify that ASAP and, I’m sure, will have instilled his determination to ‘get back on track’ in his players every waking moment since Saturday evening.
Sunderland, of course, will want to START their season and will do whatever it takes to change a record of, Played 6. Won 0. Drawn 2. Lost 4. For 6. Against 13.
But there’s a smell of ‘footballing death’ around the club (again) and facing a team, in Manchester City, determined to right a couple of wrong results; I just can’t see anything other than a City win. In addition, however the game may flow in terms of either a quick City start or a slow ebbing-away of the home side; I can see the score-line being quite a big one too in the end. 4th round here we come in my opinion!