…a much-needed, away-game 3-points is required today.
And a rare, City away win this season at hard-working Watford would go some way to papering over some very inconsistent cracks; in a 10-game league run where no two games have been alike (and looks somewhat like a set of Christmas lights):
D W D L W L W L W D.
A win this evening (5:30pm KO GMT) would, at least, make it 3 games unbeaten and 7 points from 9…
Straight to it with a predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
4-2-3-1 / 4-5-1:
Contender for ‘Player of the Season’ already; Joe 'in-between the sticks' of course.
With Gael just recovering from a minor issue, Aleks likely to ‘go again’ at left back. No Vinny means that Eliaquim & Nicolas get to continue their partnership together; one that yielded a largely decent performance against Leicester City last time out. Although back in contention, at least, Pablo probably isn’t quite ready for a start…and so it’s ‘go again’ Bacary.
Although, similar to Gael, Fabian had a niggle in the last few days; we are told that he is fit and so against a robust and workmanlike Hornets’ midfield I think the England man starts tonight. Next to him is another ‘go again’ player in Fernandinho. After a 4-day rest Yaya is likely to spearhead the central midfield attack (any less time in-between games and he may have found himself a bench-man this evening).
Either side of those three I’m going for our manager choosing the craft of David and, he’ll be hoping, a repeat-performance [from the last game] at least from livewire Raheem.
All of those supporting Sergio who, we have been told, is “100%” now. Will this be the game he burst back onto the scene?
Willy as keeper insurance on the bench; Zaba continues his progress from treatment table / gym to the bench and might even get a run-out today. Martin our cover and centre back. Then we have plenty of pace, craft and some goal threat in Jesus, Kevin, Kelechi and Wilfried. The inclusion of 2 attacking midfielders/wingers and 2 strikers on the bench might seem like a bit of a luxury ‘on the road’ but I think our manager now knows that it’s flippin’ goals and wins that we need from here-on-in, if we are to forge a proper challenge for the title…
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured), Gael Clichy (recovered but not selected), Fernando (recovered also but not selected) and Samir Nasri (injured – and about another 10 to 14 weeks away from a return, going off the original timescale issued by our manager).
Result? Well this is the last of my predicted, mini 8-game run that I did a piece on a while back and I had this one down as a tough, hard-fought away win.
We WILL have to ‘be on our metal’ and show a lot of grit and hard work today; hopefully then polished off with some class that we KNOW we have in our armoury aplenty.
We’ll have to huff, we’ll have to puff for 90+ minutes and we’ll have to beware the Hornets’ sting from the likes of Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo. We also don’t want to let these get ahead and then clam-up-tight their organised side (even though they’re the home side). But however the game plays out; I’m going for us to prevail today - like my original prediction, this is a vital away 3-points for us.
Brief January transfer talk – just the more likely ones…
Having missed out on him when we made firm contact and an offer or two 2-½ years ago, we’ve been linked with Spanish midfield playmaker, Isco, for at least the last 3 transfer windows. But having only been with Real Madrid since June / July 2013 and having made 78 appearances in all competitions (including part-games / substitutes) it does appear that the 24-year old (in April) might finally get reunited with the manager who looked after him at Malaga…even if that’s only until the end of the season.
A younger version of David Silva in my eyes - perhaps a little taller / stockier - some may see this as a luxury in the already jam-packed ranks of creativity in our squad; some would see this as an end to Samir Nasri at least and some would say we’re more-in-need of a “finisher” (although Isco is no slouch when it comes to shooting). I get all of that and can’t really argue against it. But this lad has talent and time on his side; I think he wants to come now and I, for one, would very much welcome him.
For those City fans craving more of a threat in front of goal – and I’m one of them – I’m simply going to mention a player whose name kept cropping up a few months back but, who since, has barely been whispered about.
It would be a head-scratching move for some – particularly those not associated with Manchester City – and would, I’m sure, even attract some scathing comments from parts of the press an’ the likes. It would, I’m sure, also push Kelechi Iheanacho’s nose a little ‘out of joint’ and would leave some asking the question, “When WILL youth get its chance?!”
But if available (and interested of course) on a loan deal, a very shrewd move indeed would be for one David Villa from NYCFC. At just-turned 34 (a sort-of Ali Benarbia-type age), this Spanish international has BAGS of quality and goal-scoring threat!
I would, as a lot of Blues would too I’m sure, feel very sorry indeed for Kelechi…and perhaps a little concerned for his future and reaction too. But imagine if our Sergio breaks down again; Wilfried still can’t find consistency / traction / confidence and we’re still in 4 competitions without swelling our striking department’s ranks? Well I wouldn’t be too happy / comfortable with that situation and that’s despite the attacking qualities we have in our midfield / wing division.
No...this one makes PERFECT sense if a deal can be done – a player with huge quality joining us for 5 months from our sister club over the water; a player who would thrive off the service & interplay with the likes of Yaya, Raheem, David, Sergio...and Isco.
Despite still-wanting a new left-back and although I share the fears of fellow Blues (STILL!) about our centre-back situation; I hope those two can join us in the coming weeks. January is a window that rarely sees bigger-fee-names such as Alex Sandro & Paul Pogba (and Lionel Messi) move…so let’s leave those until the summer, hey?