So Pellegrini’s Manchester City 11 lost at Southampton 4-2 a week ago and did his plan [to rest key players] work against Real Madrid? No…we fizzled out in Spain like a slightly damp sparkler; a game where the home side didn’t even have to move out of 3rd gear to dispose of us in the Champions League.
So…this is now the first of two absolute ‘must wins’; must wins, that is, to have a chance of finishing 3rd or 4th and, more importantly, avoid slipping to 5th in time for Pep’s arrival in June.
Worryingly we look jaded – we’re a fading force at the moment and so I can only HOPE that the players ‘rally behind the scenes’ and manage a performance good enough to put this one to bed.
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.
4-5-1 / 4-1-4-1:
Some degree of uncertainty with this predicted line-up – a lot of it depends on how-well-recovered last Wednesday’s players are. Having said that, reduced available personnel will dictate, to a large degree, who plays; some of them will just have to ‘go again’ regardless of any fatigue they might be suffering with.
Joe in net.
A reasonably strong enough back-4 of Gael, Eliaquim, Nicholas and Bacary.
Protecting slightly in front of them is likely to be Fernando, although Fabian may be fresher to start this one. Fernandinho will, I’m sure, track back also but should be given some licence to go forward too.
An attacking trio then, I think, of a fully fit & fresh Samir (although he rarely has good games against his old employer), Kevin and, I think for a change, Raheem on the right. I've just got a feeling that he’ll try to include the England attacker from the start for this one…
Sergio the 'lone man' up front.
Willy as keeper cover and Martin the only defensive insurance, without dipping into the EDS that is (we’re a little thin again for defenders at the moment). Fabian on the bench (if he doesn’t indeed start) and then we have plenty of creative & attacking threat that includes Yaya (likely to be a little too sore for a start following Wednesday night), Jesus, Wilfried & Kelechi.
Notable absences: Aleks Kolarov (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured) and David Silva (injured).
Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?
Yep - limited choices in some ways but I’d go with that.
Result? Now here’s a question.
As some of the fans have admitted to-feeling recently; I’ve just got a feeling a lot of the players also can’t wait for the season to end…with some of ‘em having already half-packed their bags for a permanent exit in the summer.
It’s time, therefore, for characters of the likes of Joe, Pablo & Vincent to get in that dressing room (regardless of the latter two being injured) and really gee-up the team! If we don’t...if we go into this with the weary attitude we appear to be suffering with recently; then we’ll come a ‘right cropper’ tomorrow afternoon, make no mistake.
I’d love to think that we’ll pick ourselves up from Wednesday night, forget about a managerial change in the summer and ‘give it our all’ for the fans as well as, of course, securing at least 4th place (still dependant on other results). I don’t think we’ll lose…but I do think it’ll be a not-much-help draw, I’m sorry to say.
On the other hand, they might just wake up! They might want to send our manager away from his last ever game in charge at the Etihad with a good ending. We MIGHT just batter The Gunners! It's SO hard to read the team this season and, in particular, at the moment...
Expected weather conditions during the game: Warmer than Madrid in mid-week; temperatures could reach a whopping 77F! It was flippin' snowing just over a week ago! Mostly sunny with the small chance of a heat-driven cloud burst, it has been suggested. T-shirts & shades on!