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:
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!