Friday, 30 October 2015

Let’s make it W5, D1, L0 in October.

With 5 home games on the fixture list and just 1 away trip to the borough of Trafford, we were all looking to October as a month where we could really pick up some Premier League points and take strides forward in two cup competitions.


Then, at the start of the month and in addition to an-already long list of long-term injuries, we suffered a triple ‘hammer blow’ with Vinny, David & Sergio all missing for most of the month. Despite our impressive squad of talented players; ANY team would notice that missing quality ‘down the spine’.


So we Blues should be proud of a record, so far in October, which reads, in all competitions, as, P:5, W:4, D:1, L:0. F:18, A:4…all against ‘top league’ sides both Spanish & English.

And, without wishing to tempt fate, with Norwich having to visit THEIR bogey team away at the Etihad tomorrow; that impressive October record should look even better come 4:50pm local time on Saturday.

v Norwich City


Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…

4-5-1 come 4-2-3-1:


____De Bruyne_______________________Navas_____




Similar to the last prediction against Palace - although I still managed to get 8 from the starting 11 correct but the formation wrong - this one is difficult to gauge in some ways.

These difficulties mainly stem from players who, forced to play through injuries to fellow teammates, may have-otherwise been given a rest either mid-week or tomorrow.

Other factors that make it tricky to measure include the phycology of not overusing young players AND with the manager possible having ‘one eye’ on an away trip to Spain for a very important game just 75 hours later (although, of course, Pellegrini will state when inevitably asked in his pre-match ‘presser’ today that he only ever focuses on the next game…)

Hart to regain his place after a rest in the League Cup on Wednesday. Ahead of him, and on the flanks of our defence, it picks itself; as injuries to both Gael Clichy & Pablo Zabaleta secure the positions of Aleksandar Kolarov & Bacary Sagna. The middle is a little tricky in terms of the impending Champions League game – I’m sure the pairing that I’ve selected in this prediction would be the preferred pairing for Tuesday night and, so, will they be risked against Norwich? I think some of that will depend on whether Martin Demichelis can play two games in three days and so, as I’ve already alluded to, I might be wrong in this area of Pellegrini’s selection.

Fernandinho, who took a well-earned rest on Wednesday, should return tomorrow; Yaya Toure played the ‘full 90+’ and could probably do with a day off too ahead of our game against Sevilla. However, I’m going for the pair to start and if we’re ‘out of sight’ at half time-to-60 minutes then I expect the big Ivorian midfielder to be withdrawn.

Raheem Sterling (rested in mid-week) and can-run-all-year Jesus Navas should both be in the 3-pronged attack in this formation (if I’m correct of course) and although I’m sure our manager would have liked to have rested Kevin De Bruyne before our trip to the very lengthily-named Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium; I think the Belgium will have to ‘go again’…at least for the ‘first 60’ or thereabouts.

I THINK I know the psychology our Manuel Pellegrini by now to a certain degree and I am, therefore, going for our manager to pull Kelechi Iheanacho back a little after his excellent, 9/10, 1 goal and 2 assists performance in mid-week. I say that also in full knowledge that the young striker isn’t eligible to play against the Spanish side and, therefore, we only have Wilfried Bony available as a striker for Tuesday’s game. It might be a risk and we may well be pinning our hopes on a ‘first half factor’ tomorrow; but as with Yaya & Kevin if we can take a reasonable lead going into the 55th / 60th minute then Wilfried too can be withdrawn and Kelechi still-be given a decent ½-hour’ish, second opportunity to shine in just 66 hours (or there abouts).

I am aware that I may be over-thinking this one a tad…

On the bench Caballero is back on the side; no defensive ‘flanking cover’ but both Mangala & Demichelis in there as centre-half insurance. The increasingly settled and improving Fernando likely to start from the bench (unless he’s ready for another run-out and starts in order to give Yaya some respite); a couple of young wingers in Barker & Roberts likely to be given a seat in ‘the 7’ and Iheanacho of course.

Notable absences: Gael Clichy (injured / on way back), Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Fabian Delph (injured / on way back), Samir Nasri (injured / on way back), David Silva (injured / on way back) and Sergio Aguero (injured).

Result? Well I’ve already tempted fate enough throughout this piece and, so, it’s a shock home defeat is this one!

It’s a good job, therefore, that I don’t believe in fate and in addition to us firing-in 18 goals and Norwich being, generally, our whipping boys; Norwich themselves have an awful defence that has leaked 23 goals in all competitions (21 of those in just 10 Premier League games).

That could mean, of course, that The Canaries will put even MORE effort into their defending at the Etihad tomorrow – it might look like a massive yellow & green sheet laying across ‘their third’ of the pitch!

Hopefully, though, the game will flow similarly to how we fared against Bournemouth earlier in the month. But whether it does or whether we have to be more patient for goals, this one is a fairly comfortable home win for me.

A full article and no Halloween-related puns!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

v Crystal Palace

League Cup tonight – straight to it then…

v Crystal Palace

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…

4-5-1 come 4-2-3-1:





So difficult to predict the line-up for this one with Manuel wanting to use a youngster or two; wanting also to attempt to rest a few first-teamers who have played a lot of games, wanting also, of course, to progress in this competition…but also limited in some of those respects with EDS midfielders George Evans on loan to Walsall until 20.11.2015 and Bruno Zuculini likewise at Middlesbrough until 26.11.2015.

Although it might give most of us ‘the jitters’ seeing him in-between the sticks; if Willy can’t get a game at home in the 4th round of the League Cup then what’s the point of having a back-up keeper at all?! Ahead of him Kolarov will have to ‘go again’; Mangala & Demichelis likely to come in for the impressive [on Sunday] Otamendi & Kompany and Zabaleta, not used on Sunday, to swap like-for-like with Sagna.

I can’t see how Fernandinho & Yaya are able to sit this one out / rest before Norwich at home on Saturday, although at least Yaya was withdrawn 20 minutes before the end of the game against Manyoo. I expect at least one of these to be withdrawn tonight either at or not long after half time; possibly even both by the time we reach mid-way-through the second half, depending…

With Sterling only having played 55 minutes at Scaffold Trafford and Navas, his replacement on the day, having only played 38; I can see both starting tonight. Making up the trio of attacking midfielders is likely to be Patrick Roberts. Although left-footed Pat does tend to prefer to be on the right, I understand, and if not then ‘off the striker’ and down the middle. We might, therefore, see some swapping around with him and Raheem…

Surely we’ll see a start for Kelechi Iheanacho (looking forward to that if so…) and I am going for us to play him in this formation rather than alongside Wilfried Bony in a 4-4-2. Palace are, let’s not forget in this League Cup game, a Premier League side with players that can hurt you badly on the break…and I can’t see Alan Pardew weakening his team TOO much for tonight. We need to be guarded - our ‘change of guards’ need to be ‘on it’.

You’d expect a strong bench in these circumstances and it is.

As he did in the last round I expect Richard Wright to get a rare ‘bench spot’, giving Joe a complete – and again “rare” – night off. Bacary, Nicolas, Vincent and Fernando make up a very experience & defensive security unit from the side; * Manu Garcia Kevin De Bruyne and Wilfried our only creative / attacking options. We need the ‘first 11’ to ‘do the biz’ really…

Notable absences: Gael Clichy (injured / on way back), Fabian Delph (injured / on way back), Samir Nasri (injured), David Silva (injured / on way back), Sergio Aguero (injured).

Result? If this one is to be won in 90 minutes then I think it’ll be City who’ll be the victors. However, if this is taken to extra time and, perhaps even, penalties; then all things & personnel considered it could well be Palace who progress.

Let’s do it in ‘the 90’ then!

* A late correction made - a change from Manu Garcia to Kevin De Bruyne on the bench.  An oversight-error I have to admit...