Monday, 30 November 2015

Striking the right balance

There’s that word again; just as in my last piece.

This time it’s more about our manager weighing up the need to progress and trying to win another trophy against giving a few players a little breather and not risking, too much, just-returned players.


That’s what he’s paid for…

v Hull City

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…

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

____________________Bony _____________________





With Joe still absent, Willy to continue between the sticks. Had a good game against Southampton last Saturday.

Nicholas hasn’t yet played enough minutes, I’m sure, for him to be craving a ‘legs up’ at this stage. However, I’m sure Martin (will he have ever played so many back-to-back games for City?) & head-wounded Bacary wouldn’t might a night off tonight. Sadly for them that is very unlikely; although our manager COULD use this game to give Pablo Maffeo his first ever, first-team start. Aleks, on the other hand, should be able to rest following his last game finishing just 75-hours earlier; with Gael ready to step into the left-back slot with ease.

If you want to try to progress in a cup competition at home to a Championship side AND rest a few key players ahead of your next, early KO game in the Premier League; then what better way to do it than having two mobile & defensive central midfielders [in Fabian & largely-rested-at-the-weekend Fernando], which then allows for the pace and tricky of Jesus & Raheem supplying two strikers? That’s the theory I’m going off in my predicted line-up…

Up front? Well Manuel appears to see Kelechi as a ‘just off’ striker (I don’t see him as JUST that in the slightest) and so what better match and [predicted] system to try this in; just off the desperately-needs-some-confidence Wilfried?

As is often in these cases we have a very strong-looking bench indeed. Richard Wright gets his second go in ‘the 7’; Aleks takes a well-earned side-step for Gael. Pablo Maffeo is likely to start on the bench as cover for Bacary and from there-on it’s a very strong quartet of attacking midfielders / wingers – no striking cover in my predicted line-up / subs but those 4 should be enough security.

Notable absences: Joe Hart (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Eliaquim Mangala (Injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Samir Nasri (injured) and Sergio Aguero (slight knock / rested / not to be risked).

Result? Hull are going well in their league; sitting 4th and just 3 points off the sumit after a terrific start and despite a draw and defeat in their last two outings. They will be very hungry for success and a big scalp in this competition and we need to be slightly wary of that. However, if our manager doesn’t take this one TOO lightly, which he shouldn’t and I doubt he will, then this one is a home win. Semi-finals here we come!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

It’s all in the balance…

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…

Chaotic feeling

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.

v Southampton



Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

4-1-4-1 come 4-5-1:


____Sterling______________________De Bruyne____



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.