Well…another day, another competition.
And another away game against a Premier League side! With inconsistent performances & results over the last few weeks & months I may have been doing a bit of frustrated head-scratching over my beloved Blues but 5 away games from 6 AND over the festive period doesn’t seem very fair now, does it?
I feel sorry for our loyal, away-day fans too…
Brief one really – straight to it with a predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
Manuel Pellegrini has made it perfectly clear that he intends to use Willy Caballero (who had a decent night between the sticks last Wednesday) in net for both the remainder of our time in both domestic cup competitions and, so, that’s that sorted.
With more defensive injuries to our centre backs there are only a couple first-team options really - and for me I can see our manager wanting to play an Argentine trio of Martin & Nicholas in front of their Argentine keeper / comrade. Either side of that I’m going for Pellegrini to then choose a rested [on Wednesday] Aleks and to give Pablo his first start in some considerable time.
On Wednesday I got it wrong in-thinking that Fernando might get a run-out to help rest other players in a jam-packed fixture list…and I may get it wrong again today. But, like Zaba, we are told he is fit and with Fernandinho having played SO many games and with Fabian Delph having a run-out and not very impressive game against Everton; I think ‘The Octopus’ might get a start this afternoon. Beside him – although serious questions are quite-rightly being asked about just how many times he should be playing back-to-back games – I can see our manager again starting, at least, Yaya.
Rested in mid-week is, then, sure-to-start-today Raheem and on the opposite flank I can see Jesus being rewarded for a decent substitute appearance on Merseyside last Wednesday. In between them is likely to be just-turned-30 David, who I hope can rediscover his magic touch again very soon.
Sergio the ‘lone man’ again, albeit with plenty of pacey & creative attacking support around him.
Joe to have an extended rest and rare bench spot; Gael likely to find himself back on the bench for this one (I might be wrong here – he might get another run-out) and Bacary should finally get a rest and, crucially, be on the bench not-only in case Zaba can’t last the 90+ but also as central defensive cover if needed. Fabian & Fernandinho the two central midfield change-options but don’t be surprised also to see the Brazilian cover in central defence (as he did against Watford) should the need arise - we need Jason Denayer back from Galatasaray, something our manager was asked about yesterday and he confirmed ‘it was possible’. Kevin the more creative option in midfield / wing and Kelechi our only striking change-option.
Notable absences: Eliaquim Mangala (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Samir Nasri (injured) and Wilfried Bony (injured / taking longer than expected to return).
Result? Well…as opposed to Goodison Park, Carrow Road – and The Canaries in general – is a decent place for us to visit / are a good team for us to play against. But having largely struggled for most of the season they do, annoyingly, appear to have found a little bit of traction of late with 3 wins from 4, albeit against struggling-for-form opposition in Manyoo, AstonVilla & Southampton.
It may sound cliché but they may also be looking forward to a home-tie in the F.A. Cup; a nice distraction from their largely struggling league campaign. In other words – and as it with most games these days – take these lightly and we’ll come off badly.
Our form is erratic to say the very least and I’m sure out manager won’t be happy about that. And with us losing at Everton in mid-week I can’t SEE us losing two back-to-back games. Of course that does then leave a draw and dreaded [with an already packed agenda] replay option. But I’m going for our hoodoo over the East Anglian team to continue with a decent win this afternoon.