Saturday, 30 December 2017

Stronger team required at Palace…

…I would suggest.


The team we put out against Newcastle last Wednesday was adequate enough to overcome our North-East hosts but, in my opinion, that was partly helped by the fact that the home side didn’t even look like they wanted to TRY to win or even score for long periods of the one-sided game!


Despite that, The Magpies came close to reducing our eventual 3-points to just 1 on at least two occasions and although it was nice to see the likes of Danilo, Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and, forced early on through injury, Jesus get a run-out whilst other key personnel got a rest, I’d just like to see us reintroduce a couple of regulars for our crazy-early KO in South London on New Year’s Eve. 


Let’s end the calendar year with another win!

v Crystal Palace

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 8/11).

Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3



__________D. Silva____________De Bruyne_________





Subs: Bravo, Danilo, Stones, Toure, Gundogan, B. Silva, Jesus.

Ederson in goal, of course.

Although said to be suffering with a little muscle fatigue, I think the rest in midweek should see Fabian return on the left of defence. Eliaquim comes in again to cover for injury, Nicholas next to him and Kyle likely to be on the right again for this trip.

Fernandinho might like a little break but I can see him having to ‘go again’ tomorrow lunchtime. Ahead of him I think we’re likely to see a familiar attacking / creative quartet of Leroy, David (although I get the feeling City are still treating the Spaniard gently following recent personal issues and so he might be allowed another day off on Sunday), Kevin & Raheem.

Sergio to ‘get the nod’ again, I think.

Claudio the back-up stopper, Danilo drops to the bench for the trip to our capital and I think we might just see John make the bench on his road to recovery. Yaya, Ilkay & Bernardo make up the midfield options from the side; Gabriel the change-option up front.

Notable absences: Benjamin Mendy (continues rehab following injury / surgery) & Vincent Kompany (injured AGAIN for an unknow period of time – should find out later today or tomorrow).

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

Yes…but it is a shame we don’t have considered-adequate defensive midfield cover to give Fernandinho some much-needed respite (wouldn’t have been an issue if Mendy hadn’t got injured, as Fernandinho & Fabian could-have-then rotated that role but, hey-ho…).

Result? Well just when it looked like Roy Hodgson had stabilised The Eagles - making them a tougher outfit to break down and picking up enough points to claw their way out of the relegation zone - all of a sudden 2 wins, 2 draws followed by a home defeat last Thursday in their last 5 games sees them teetering just one point above the ‘drop zone’ (as this is being written before today’s games, it must be noted).

However, that home defeat did come against 6th place (again, at this moment in time) Arsenal who, it has to be noted, have found some traction in the last few weeks…and Palace did-still manage to score twice against Arsene Wenger’s men in a 2-3 defeat. So, they can inflict damage on teams and will, I’m sure, be scrapping for their very survival once more when we come to town.

At home too, if the home fans are up for it and are right behind their team, it can be a difficult place to go. That’s why I say that Pep needs to be ‘on this one’ if he wants to break any more records; play his strongest – or near-strongest – team and ‘put this one to bed’ to end the calendar year on a high.

IF he does that and goes with something like my predicted line-up then, for me, this is another away win.

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: Win
Result: Win

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

I suppose I shouldn’t moan…

First of all, I KNOW I said I wouldn’t be doing a pre-Newcastle Blog-posting and although I knew there was gonna be a 4-day gap between the Bournemouth home game and our trip to the North East, I just didn’t think I’d get around to a posting over the festive period. 


But why ARE we playing on Wednesday night when all other Premier League teams were given a traditional, Boxing Day schedule? That’s what Boxing Day is all about, in this country at least; getting out from-having been in the house the previous day, blowing away the cobwebs and taking in a match! 


But, then again, I suppose our players will have-had an extra day’s rest before we face The Magpies…not that they’ll be desperate for some ‘time out’ after they strolled to victory against The Cherries last Saturday.

A word or two on last Saturday’s game…

As soon as I got home from the Bournemouth match, I text some fellow City-fan-mates and said I didn’t know whether to class that as a perfectly executed training session against a team we should be beating or as a masterclass performance.

Apart from a slightly concerning period where we seemed to be taking it far too easy on the visitors for the last 10 or so minutes of the first half, it was a ‘walk in the park’ for our lads! The second half in particular was both a lesson in how to retain the ball and a pure joy to watch to the very last, brilliant second.

A brief comment on a few players does lead me to say how strange it when people watch the same game and yet have very different views.

Firstly, I thought the apparently unsettled Sergio Aguero looked a little lost and unable to get fully involved in the attacking play in the first half and although, okay yes, he improved a lot as the game progressed - scoring two very good headers as well as having a hand in another goal - I didn’t think for one moment that he’d have been given the stadium’s MotM award. Personally, I’d have given it to the ever-improving and surprise package of the season, Fabian Delph; a player who has proved to be a most important member of the team in many ways with new-signing Benjamin Mendy out for most of the season. He had a marvellous game last weekend.

The Manchester Evening News too made a quote about Vincent Kompany in their player ratings piece which read, “His passing was also sharp and quick, giving City an edge going forward”. I actually turned to the fella next to me at one stage in the second half and said, “I’m don’t want to pick something negative out of such a fine, dominant performance but Vinny has made 3 really poor passes today that another team might have punished.

Huh…just goes to show you - same match and 2 very differing viewpoints / ‘memories of’.

Another very brief word on another game…

Going back even further, wasn’t the League Cup victory of Leicester City ‘justice done’?! Cheating, diving-in-the-97th-minute sod…

Demarai Gray fools the ref with 1 minute to go of normal time.
Shame that Phil Foden picked up an injury in that game at a time where we have SUCH a huge gap at the top of the Premier League (13 as I’m prepping this piece). What I mean is, as we head into another period of various cup matches, Phil and other EDS players could have started to get some Premier League time under their belts and give some of the senior fellas a much-needed break. Hope he recovers well and soon.

Bristol City up next in the 2-legged semi-final.

v Newcastle United.

St. James' Park

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 9/11).

Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3:



____________D. Silva_______De Bruyne____________





I’ve got the feeling that with a full 4 days between the last game and this one that our manager might not feel like he needs to change much, even though the next game comes just 3-½ days later.

So, Ederson continues in between the sticks and ahead of him I think it’ll be the same 4 of Fabian, Vincent, Nicholas & Kyle (Vinny benefiting from those 4 days and so should make this one, I think, but perhaps not-then the crazy-early KO away at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve).

Again, the same central 3 midfielders of Fernandinho, David & Kevin, despite the Belgium having-had a bug recently and heading into last weekend’s game, according to Pep. However, I think we’ll see one change beyond those. I can see Guardiola wanting to perhaps squeeze Gabriel into the side as well as Sergio for this one and, so, the young Brazilian might start on the left with still-in-form Raheem on the right.

Sergio, as I say, surely rewarded for his 2 goals and fine second half display last Saturday and to keep his confidence up following rumours (again at this time of year) of unrest.

Claudio the reserve keeper; Danilo & Mangala the defensive options from the side. Yaya should get a spot on a bench that also contains 3 other creative / attacking midfielders / wingers in Ilkay, Bernardo & Leroy.

Notable absences: John Stones (close to a return but still not quite ready, I don’t think) & Benjamin Mendy (continues rehab following injury / surgery).

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

Oh yes.

Result? I don’t know a great deal about the players our hosts have but I get the feeling they have a few who can hurt you but, at the same time, are very flaky to say the least. In fact, the last game suggests just that, which was a 2-3 away win at equally erratic West Ham.

Their home, league record this season so far tells the same story with a, P9 W3 D1 L5  F9 A12. I just can’t see past another away win for City, albeit one where we might leak a goal at some point.

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: N/A
Result: N/A

Friday, 22 December 2017

Signing off before Christmas with a rare…

…Saturday, 3:00pm KO! 


Our recent fixture KO times & days have really peed me off lately.

v AFC Bournemouth

Busy Christmas time so straight to this one with a brief, pre-match Blog-posting…

Etihad Stadium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game, which was the Premier League game against Spurs.: 9/11).

Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3:



___________De Bruyne_____Gundogan____________





Very quick write-up to note a couple of things – Vinny likely to be recovered enough for a place on the bench following another comeback from yet another injury; Pep seems unsure if David will be ready for this one and so I’ve assumed not.

Notable absences: John Stones (close to a return but not quite ready), Benjamin Mendy (continues rehab following injury / surgery) & David Silva (presumed given more time off following personal reasons).

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

That’ll do for me!

Result? Can’t see anything other than a home win.

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: Win
Result: Win

Have a great Christmas all and, as there’s a chance I might not be doing a pre-Newcastle Blog-posting and possibly neither a Palace one (but more likely); have a great New Year’s Eve too if I’m not back on before then.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

A tougher test against an old enemy.

I think it’s ever since the 1981 F.A. Cup final – and replay – that I often find The Lilywhites from North London an irritant. Despite occasional victories (some of them big and / or important ones) over Spurs both home & away over the years; still my overriding memories of playing this lot are mostly bad ones ending in defeats.


That, of course, has started to change and swing more in our favour in recent years but I still find that I go into games against Tottenham less confident that we’ll come out of it with a win; despite how brilliantly we’re playing at the moment…and the fact that we stand a Grand Canyon-sized 18 points clear of them in mid-December! 


Still, my feelings about this one on Saturday evening isn’t helped by the fact that our visitors are so very inconsistent and unpredictable so far this season; drawing & losing almost as many as they’ve won! 


They’ve got goal-scorers and so many creative players in their team and yet have the lowest ‘goals scored’ in the top-5 sides but at the same time have a mean defence; holding the joint-3rd-best record in the Prem this season so far.

v Tottenham Hotspur

Etihad Stadium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 9/11).

Fluid 4-1-4-1 / 4-5-1 / 4-3-3:



___________D. Silva__________De Bruyne_________





Ederson owns the gloves.

Ahead of him is a largely familiar Fabian, Eliaquim, Nicholas & Kyle.

Fernandinho, withdrawn on 58 minutes in midweek to rest / protect, anchors in just in front of the back-4. In a far more attacking role is the quartet of Leroy, David, Kevin & Raheem; all in support of Gabriel, I would say for this on and going off rotation of the strikers.

Notable absences: John Stones (injured for about another 2 weeks), Benjamin Mendy (continues rehab following injury / surgery) & Vincent Kompany (injured for a few more days).

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

Certainly do!

Result? Well I’ve already said a lot about how I feel when we play these and not only did I correctly predict a draw in the corresponding fixture last season but, I understand, our last FOUR clashes have all ended likewise.

I think they’ll be goals at both ends…but I think that this one will end in a score-draw. Whether that leaves us 12 or “just” 9 points ahead of our nearest chaser will remain to be seen…

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: Draw
Result: Draw

They’ll be no time for a pre-Leicester Blog-posting in mid-week, I’m sorry to say.