Having not taken advantage of Newcastle United’s woes and lowly place in the relegation zone last Tuesday; West Ham United, Manyoo and Arsenal then-also all picked up 3 points in their scrap for 3rd & 4th places. Either side of those, Liverpool & Tottenham Hotspur managed 4-0 wins and so, all-in-all, it wasn’t a good week for us following some fine form and Champions League progression.
We need to put this right with nothing less than a win against Mark Hughes’ men…and improving the goal difference would help / might prove vital at this stage too.
Both eyes on this one Mr Pellegrini…and players!
The irony! On Friday 4th December I did a piece entitled, “Eyes on Stoke Mr Pellegrini”. It was the day before our away league game at Britannia Stadium; a game that lay just 3 days before our home game against Borussia Monchengladbach.
It wasn’t necessarily our manager’s team selection that undid us, as we lost that game 2-0, but rather a combination of a really ‘out of sorts’ City display against a Stoke side who were ‘right up for it’ and better than us in every way and in all departments.
The similarities both then & now, with this game being just 3-days before our home game against Real Madrid, are quite remarkable. The only thing is…if we don’t win this one then with just 3 games remaining (one against Arsenal) we could be in REAL trouble with regards to-us-not-even finishing 4th!
v Stoke City
Predicted line-up, sub and outcome.
Hard to predict this one – hard to know what’s in our manager’s head with Real looming next week…
Hart to start.
Recovered; I think we’ll see Gael back at left-back but although Bacary is deemed fit also, I think he’ll be saved for Tuesday and, so, Zaba to start again on to opposite side. Vinny will, I’m sure, be given another test following his latest injury setback; Eliaquim likely to start alongside our captain with Nicholas likely to be used on Tuesday [instead].
‘The Ferns’ likely to be reunited for this one; David, Kevin & Jesus to be the more attacking trio just behind Sergio, who, I’m sure, Pellegrini will be hoping to withdraw early’ish on, again with Tuesday in mind.
Strong bench with so few injuries – Willy the keeper cover; Bacary & Nicholas the defensive insurance. Fabian the defensive midfield cover; Raheem the more attacking option from the side and two strikers in Wilfried & Kelechi.
Notable absences: Aleks Kolarov (not selected), Martin Demichelis (not selected), Yaya Toure (rested / not selected) and Samir Nasri (injured). Wow! Only one injured! When have we been able to say that this season at least?!
Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?
Well…yeah, I suppose.
Had we’d achieved the 3-points we were very capable of against Newcastle last Tuesday then we could have, at least, rested the likes of Sergio for this one. But we didn’t…and we now have to ‘go for this’ and, if we do so early on, then we may be able to, at least, withdraw key players ahead of our prestige clash against the Spanish giants.
Result? I think it’s a home win, which would be very good indeed of course. I just wonder, though, how much energy we’ll have to throw into this game in order to grab a-hold of some much-needed 3-points against a side that will test us physically.
Expected weather conditions during the game: A cool, Northerly breeze but dry with a bright-sunshine-start to the game. White cloud soon drifting-in though. 9 to 10C.