Players injured, players returning; a previously in-form Saints’ team looking to bounce back from a 1-0 home defeat to Stoke City verses a City side struggling to find traction.
What a tough one to call…
It just doesn’t feel right at the moment, does it? With a whole load of injuries including that of ‘big players’; poor Pellegrini team selection v Liverpool and a last-6 form in all competitions that reads, W W W D L L / F:10 A:9; long-standing City fans could be forgiven for saying that ‘City of old’ have returned.
The fact that we ARE, let’s not beat around the bush, off-colour at the moment to say the very least and have still managed to qualify for the Champions League knock-out stages, can still finish top of our group in the European competition; are still in the League Cup and are just 2 points off the top of the Premier League still keeps me well ‘n’ truly on the optimistic side of things. Other Blues, going off their various on-line comments, are less so.
Is this the ‘new City expectation’ we’re seeing from some fans?
Those pessimistic feelings from a section of Blues could be stoked even further with draw or worse at home to the South-coast side this weekend; a game that’s going to test, to the full, our resolve under depleted, difficult circumstances.
It’s a period of doubt alright…and one we really need to start to ‘put to bed’ ASAP.
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.
4-1-4-1 come 4-5-1:
Willy in net – no option really.
Almost the same back line as played in Italy in midweek but at home, Aleks likely to get ‘the nod’ as the more attack-minded left-back.
It must be so tempting for our manager to ease David Silva in very slowly following a lengthy injury lay-off. However, we’re facing a team who is yet to be beaten away from home in the Premier League; a well organised unit who have conceded just one more than us. So…I think it’ll be ‘big guns out’ for this one and a midfield / wing five that should send a shudder through any opposition. The last thing we need is to be playing ‘catch up’ in this game; I think it’s got to be about hitting them hard and quickly when they might be cold-to-start. Being at home I’ve gone for Fernandinho being asked to be the mostly ‘sitting man’; sweeping up anything that comes his way and helping in attack where possible. The other 4? ATTACK!
Aguero to continue his rehab on the pitch.
Strong bench, if not a little lacking in defensive cover. Richard Wright gets a rare bench outing and Gael Clichy is the only defensive cover (our manager might stick Pablo Maffeo and / or other EDS defender on there too but this is what I’m going for). Fabian & Fernando to provide excellent defensive midfield cover if we’ve done our early attacking work to good effect; we then have pace, creativity and goals in Jesus, Kelechi and Wilfried.
Notable absences: Joe Hart (injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Eliaquim Mangala (injured) and Samir Nasri (injured).
Result? In my mini, 8-game prediction recently I had this down as a tough game but a home win. Now with injuries to the very heart of our defence in Joe, Vinny & Eliaquim (although with the latter I’d go with Nicholas every time) I nearly wobbled and changed it to a frustrating draw.
But with David hopefully fit to start I think his sorely missed presence will ignite Yaya, Kevin, Raheem & Sergio and that we’ll get our ‘swagger’ back…and will swagger all over Southampton’s midfield and defence. Despite The Saints having key attacking players missing for this clash there might still be a few wobbles at the back…but this is a home win for me.