Saturday, 31 December 2016

Aguero back to help maintain momentum.

The victory at home to Watford came from a methodical display (a little boring if we’re being honest); the Arsenal home win came after a resolute performance under first half pressure from the visitors, followed by a highly-spirited & excellent execution from City after the interval.


The 3 points at Hull City followed, once again, a very disciplined showing from Pep’s men and with lots of the now-usual possession, which eventually ground-down our hosts.


In short, that’s 3 back-to-back wins to perhaps paper over some recent cracks; fissures caused by all-too-frequent defensive errors / lapses, together with a few injuries and 2 key-player suspensions.


The timing of Sergio’s return, therefore, from a 4-match ban is perfect ahead of, also, the imminent arrival of Gabriel Jesus. 


It’s good to be back and able to find both the energy & time to sit in front of the keyboard and I’m really looking forward to a very good game against Liverpool.

v Liverpool


Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-1-4-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4…


__De Bruyne___________________________Sterling__



___________(Outfield player with gloves on)_________

The ‘Yellow Peril’ somewhere near the back.

I’ve got a feeling Pep will go for Aleks on the left of defence for this game (he’ll need to be ‘right on his toes for this one’) with Zaba on the opposite side. In between those I’m going for Nicholas & Bacary. Let’s hope it’s a case of you score 2 and we’ll score 3…

Fernandinho to provide a little extra security to that back-line (good hunting fella!) and ahead of him in the middle of the park is likely to be Yaya & David. Flanking those on the wings is Kevin and ‘sure-to-be-in-for-some-stick’ Raheem.

Up front – Serg is back! Hopefully fully primed and ready to tear our host’s defence to shreds!

Willy the back-up keeper; Gael & Tosin the defensive change-options. Fernando the only central midfielder on the bench; Jesus (Mark I), Nolito & Kelechi the attacking replacement choices from the ‘7 on the side’.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured – possibly close to another return), John Stones (late test / I’m guessing that he won’t be risked), Fabian Delph (injured and still no return date), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for the rest of the season) & Leroy Sane (injured – length of time out unknow at this stage).

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

I think this game will be one of attacking pace and thrust-aplenty; especially from the home side and especially in the first 30 minutes or so. Therefore, I just wonder, in this a match-up, whether it might be a little too much for the legs & frame of Yaya in the early stages.

If so, perhaps-then squeeze Kevin, David & Raheem together a little more-narrow and into an ‘attacking trio’ behind Sergio and partner Fernando with Fernandinho behind those 3, for the first part at least, which might prove wiser – defending the back line even more and also then-having our own counter-attacking threat in a 4-2-3-1 / 4-2-4?

The defence – especially the “keeper” and left-side-of – is a worry for me but there’s little we can do about that for now, other than what I’ve suggested about protection from midfield. Other than that, I’m fine with that predicted line-up overall and we certainly have ‘enough in our locker’ to hurt a defence that, in the league at least, have conceded one more than us (7th best defence in a league of 20 to our joint-6th).

Result? This fixture has a fairly high-scoring draw written all over it – a 2-2 or 3-3 wouldn’t be a surprise at all and I think we’d have to be happy with that (10 points from the last possible 12).


News this week that both Pablo Maffeo and Angelino have gone on loan for the rest of the season to Spanish 2nd division side, Girona FC.

Angelino, fair enough for now; I don’t see him ever dislodging either Gael Clichy nor Aleksandar Kolarov on the left of defence this season.

However, with some senior team experience under his belt already and with Pablo Zabaleta & Bacary Sagna’s recent injury niggles; I think at just half way through the season it’s a mistake to let Pablo Maffeo leave on loan.

Hope that doesn’t come back to bite us…


Thanks, as always, for ‘tuning in’!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Blog announcement.

Due to a flippin' persistent winter cold & chest infection (Day-11 now) and other time constraints, they'll be no pre-Hull City blog-posting. Sorry.


Whatever you're doing, have a pleasant Christmas all!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Injuries & continued suspensions…

…ahead of this one. Arsenal have their fair share of injuries too - and to key players - but our ‘red list’ (below) is getting larger again.

v Arsenal

Etihad Stradium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

It’s as hard as I predicted it would be at the start of the season, so far, working out what Pep might do personnel & formation-wise ahead of each game – he’s sprung more than a few surprises on me already.

We’re only 16 league (and several cup) games into his tenure, of course, so there’s time for me to become more accurate as he shapes his team into how he really wants it to work; as well as with more of his own players on board as time & transfer windows pass by.

Here’s today’s attempt…

Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-1-4-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4…


___________________De Bruyne___________________                       



___________(Outfield player with gloves on)_________

Apparently homesick Claudio to start in (or around at least) net.

I think it’ll be a ‘back 4’ for this one and I’m gonna ‘stick my neck out’ that he’ll go with 2 ex-Gunners on either side of that protective wall, in Gael & Bacary. Not involved on Wednesday (Dropped? Rested? Protected?); John surely to start in this one and partnered, I’m sure, by Nicholas.

I got it wrong pre-Watford about ‘reborn Pablo’ being deployed as central midfielder for a second time [following the Celtic game], despite him getting on the scoresheet against The Hornets with a delightful finish. However, I’m going for him to be slotted in there for this one and in the absence [again] of Fernandinho. Speaking of absences, with Ilkay Gundogan now out for the rest of the season with cruciate knee ligament damage; Kevin is likely to be shuffled inwards slightly, which isn’t a bad thing at ALL in my book. David to make up the rest of the creative ‘engine core’ of midfield. Nolito to slot back over to the left, after a striker cameo in midweek and Raheem likely to ‘go again’ on the right-hand-side.

Dropped / rested / protected on Wednesday night; I’m going for Guardiola to select young-striker, Kelechi, for tomorrow afternoon’s game (4:00pm KO GMT).

Willy on the bench as back-up for Claudio; Aleks possibly the only defender on the bench (with the option of Zaba dropping back if needed). Fernando, young Aleix & Yaya make up the central midfield replacement-options, while Jesus & Leroy provide wide, attacking choices from the ‘7 on the side’.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured – expected return date of 2nd January now), Fabian Delph (injured AGAIN and ‘no return date’ from a groin / pelvic issue), Fernandinho (suspended one last time / 3 of 3), Ilkay Gundogan (injured and out for the rest of the season) & Sergio Aguero (suspended: 3 of 4).

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

Well I just can’t, for the moment at least, say that I’m “happy” seeing Claudio Bravo being the ‘holder of the gloves’…and Otamendi is often a concern for me; especially in games where it might get a little bit tense & tetchy.

I have to say also that I expected [when we signed him] Nolito to be a little bit more of a goal threat than he has been…but I’m not overly disappointed with him either at this early stage. It’s frustrating that Sterling appears to have faded slightly again after a decent’ish start to the season and I was full of hope that Iheanacho would grab this season - and this latest opportunity - with both feet…but hasn’t really done so.

But apart from that…it’s a decent line-up that should provide a bit of solidity as well as a decent amount of attacking / creative flare to trouble the visitors. I just hope we can ‘bag a few’ of those created chances!

Result? I really am ‘leaning towards’ a home win tomorrow and that’s despite a possible Arsenal ‘reaction’ to their Tuesday night defeat. I’ve got some confidence heading in this one and that’s in spite of a reasonably poor time of it [results wise] at home in particular and in recent weeks.

However, I think it’s that last factor – as well as our often-leaky defence - that’s pulling me back from leaning too far into the ‘optimistic zone’. I’m sorry to say that I think this will be a ‘points shared’ on our own patch.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

If ever 3-points were needed…

…to give EVERYONE a lift (and before we face in-form Arsenal on Sunday) then it’s now! Published before Arsenal were beaten on Tuesday night...

v Watford

Straight to it – I actually didn’t think for one moment I’d have either the time or energy to ‘pop out’ a pre-match piece before this game.

Etihad Stadium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-1-4-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4…


__De Bruyne___________________________Sterling__


Kolarov______Otamendi___ -____Stones______Sagna

___________(Outfield player with gloves on)_________

The ‘fella in yella’ to start at the back.

With my-thinking that Pablo might start & feature higher up the field for this one in the absence of Fernandinho; I’m going for Bacary to start on the right in ‘a 4’ at the back (surely our manager won’t make the same mistake as his did v Chelsea and ‘go 3’?). With a heavy heart, I have to say that Pep appears to prefer Aleks over Gael and, so, he fills the left-hand flank of the defence. In between those is John and, returning from a 1-game suspension (I had no idea before the Leicester City game – oooops!), it’s Nicholas…making me nervous as hell with the 'trinity' of Kolarov, Otamendi & the guy with gloves on behind them!

So…Pablo to provide largely defensive, 'midfield combativeness' (if he performs how he did in that position against Celtic then that’ll do for me!), with the more-creative threat coming from Ilkay & David in the middle of the park. Flanking those is likely to be Kevin & the returning from injury / regaining fitness Raheem.

Kelechi to have 'another go' up front.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured), Fabian Delph (not selected), Fernandinho (suspended: 2 of 3) & Sergio Aguero (suspended: 2 of 4).

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

As I said before the last league game, aside from the “keeper” and some concerns also about both Kolarov & Otamendi; there’s nothing else wrong with that on paper at least.

Result? Well I watched at lot of Watford’s game against Everton and although the Toffee’s defence was a little suspect at times; The Hornets were good for their 3 points and, now, 7th place in the Premier League. We cannot take these lightly at all and as well as craft to trick our way through another resilient defence, I’m sure; it’ll require graft too.

But surely…SURELY, we’re good for 3-home points here? Peeping out between fingers, I’ll mutter a slightly nervous, “Yes”.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Oh deary, deary me…

I can only repeat what I’ve recently sent, by text, to fellow Blues.

I feel sick, and the text went...

"Pick the bones out of that one!"

1.    A new keeper required (I would personally suggest a fella called Joe Hart; a goalkeeper who has proven to be the best ‘stopper’ in the Premier League for years).

2.    A completely new defence

3.    Repairing the fact that we have neglected, for a few transfer windows now, the lack of strength-in-depth of quality strikers.

4.    I hope we can do something in the F.A. Cup this season…’cause the other two competitions, I would suggest, are already beyond us.

A massive rebuild required, I HATE to admit…