Friday, 29 April 2016

Fine balancing act against Southampton

0-0 after the first leg in the Champions League against Real Madrid; we’ve never been so close to the final of this prestigious competition. 


It’s important for us to, therefore, try to pick our strongest side on Wednesday night / protect our key players this weekend BUT…this clash on the South Coast is just as important in my book; it’s VITAL that we achieve a top-4 finish; preferably top 3…

My thoughts

In order to save time, I’ll simply ‘copy & paste’ my thoughts that I put down in a forum yesterday, which was on an article about just such a dilemma in terms of what strength team to pick with Wednesday night looming.

Yeah it's a balancing act but it shouldn't be TOO much of a concern to play key players needed for Madrid against Southampton too. I say that also because 3 points against the Saints is a MUST!

Of course we'd want to avoid (more) injuries, a risk I accept as a concern, but in terms of fatigue; I don't see it being much of an issue. Withdrawing key players around the 65-minute mark would be ideal if we are in a position to do so BUT these players will have a full day of rest (and perhaps some travel unless they do that Sunday night from London, which makes sense to do so to me) on Monday then a full 1-1/2 days training / prep work on Tuesday, Wednesday morning / early afternoon.

Yeah a Saturday KO on the South coast would have been far more preferable but I can't emphasize enough that this game is just as important as the one on Wednesday for our club going into next season. Strong side needed on Sunday for me...

v Southampton

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.







Plenty of room for error in this predicted line-up…

Despite some City fans on-line calling for Joe not to be risked tomorrow evening, I just can’t see our manager agreeing with that.

Having started against Real on Tuesday and likely to start again this coming Wednesday; Gael & Bacary likely to be on the bench and, so, Aleks & Pablo should come in. In between those is likely to be Eliaquim & Nicholas as, unlike the ‘Joe thing’, I think Pellegrini will not risk Vinny for this one.

Some players will have to ‘go again’ and, so, alongside Fabian is likely to be Fernandinho. It’s a blessing, in a weird way, that Samir isn’t in the Champions League squad; we should, therefore, have a fresh and important player available for our league games. With the Frenchman on the left I think we’ll see Raheem on the opposite flank.

2 ‘up top’ I think for this one with Kelechi slightly behind Sergio, who I’m sure our manager would like to see come off no later than the 65-minute mark.

Willy as keeper cover; the afore mentioned Gael & Bacary alongside Martin as defensive insurance. Kevin on the side in case we need some added creativity; Jesus for some late pace / slightly rested for Wednesday Night's 'need for energy' and one striker option on Wilfried.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (not selected / rested / protected), Fernando (not selected / rested / protected) and Yaya Toure (only just recovering from an injury niggle).

Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?

Yep…if he goes with that I think it’s one with a good chance of coming away with 3, vital points as well as resting some key players for our trip to Spain and having the options there to withdraw some other vital players; swapping them with decent replacements too.

Result? In my 8-game, mini season piece a few weeks ago I had this one down as a draw. And the outcome this weekend depends a lot on which Southampton turn up. I find them to be a team who are hard to read a lot of the time and a last 10 of, W L L D W W L W D W is testimony to that.

Fatigue from our last game shouldn’t be an issue at all, having-had almost a full, 5-days’ rest.

But even if our manager picks a team that is well capable of coming away from St Mary’s with a win, I just wonder if some of the players, who will have to ‘go again’ just 3 days later, might just play with their foot 'lightly pressed on the gas pedal' on Sunday.

I’d love to say, “Win”…and I pray that’s the case of course. But, even as I’ve been typing this, I’ve been wobbling between that much-needed outcome and the one I predicted back on 22nd March and I’m afraid, all things considered with us-being wrapped up in the Champions League, the earlier prediction of a draw has come out on top in my head.

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