…some consistency please.
They were right!
Every pundit I listened to 48-hours before our game at the London Stadium said that the fixture last Wednesday would be totally different to the one which saw us dominate and slam 5 past West Ham in the F.A. Cup. Well-done them for getting it so right! We “only” managed 4-0 and, on this second occasion, we completely tore our hosts to pieces in a far better, masterclass, attacking display.
Okay, The Hammers didn’t exactly press us very much at all and, in particular, the ‘linchpin’ that was Yaya Toure looked so comfortable with plenty of time on his hands; controlling and spraying the ball around for his grateful colleagues.
But I’m taking nothing away from a Manchester City performance that was akin to what we’ve seen in a Pep Barcelona and Bayern team – it was a joy to watch and left me aghast at times.
Not only did we attack with pace and venom - supported brilliantly by our deeper-lying players who all played with great energy & intent - but whenever we needed to defend and ‘be careful’ (not often) we looked far more assured…and yes, I will put some of that down to having Willy Caballero in net without taking anything away from the defenders themselves.
Some much-needed goal difference boost too, especially with others around us slipping up midweek. But now we need to show some consistency; we need to put a run together like we did at the start of the season and like both Chelsea & Arsenal have done for large parts of their seasons so far.
Swansea City (H), AFC Bournemouth (A), Sunderland (A) and Stoke City (H) (scattered around F.A Cup and Champions League games) suggests an ideal list of fixtures to do just that. However, apart from our performance at White Hart Lane and result at least at home to Chelsea; if we have been consistent at ALL after our opening 10 games then it’s that we’ve done well against the top sides but struggled a little against teams who are lower in the table.
We must put that trait firmly behind us starting tomorrow (1:30pm KO GMT).
v Swansea City.
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.
Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-6-0:
Well I’ve already mentioned "consistency" and, for the most part, if all are fit & 'raring to go' again; I can just envisage ‘the boss’ pitching almost the same side that played so very, very well just 4 days earlier.
Willy is highly likely to continue in goal.
Aleks & John, I would say also, to keep their places in defence but possibly joined by the only 'little shuffle' I can see Guardiola making, which is to include (being eased back in) Vinny & Pablo for this one.
As for the rest…I’m going for the manager to pick the 'same as' – Yaya sitting the deepest and spraying the ball around as he does and with David & Kevin making up the rest of 'the core'. Leroy & Raheem provide the majority of the width and ‘central front man’, Gabriel, to pop up left, right and in deeper-midfield as he sees fit.
‘Fella in yella’ to be covering that bright top up with a thick coat on the side as back-up to Willy; joined by Gael, Bacary & Nicholas as defensive replacement options. Fabian & Fernandinho make up our midfield choices from ‘the 7’ and Sergio likely to be joining them for a second time (he looked a startled & sorry figure on TV last Wednesday I must admit).
Notable absences: Fernando (not selected), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for rest of season), Jesus Navas (not selected), Nolito (not selected) and Kelechi Iheanacho (not selected).
Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?
Huh…if it means we might play anything like we did in London just a few days ago - and get a similar result - then YES!
Result? Our visitors have had a traumatic season having had THREE managers at the helm. However – and typically – they’ve settled down and 3 wins from the last 4 have not only eased some Swansea nerves but have also pulled them ever so slightly out of the relegation zone.
Paul Clement’s CV of where he’s been and who he has worked under as an assistant is as impressive as you’ll find and I personally think that this very young manager who, for me did well when in charge of Derby County, has a very bright future in football.
The Swans have some players who, ‘on their day’, can hurt you too – I’m thinking Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fernando Llorente and new boy Luciano Narsingh there. Allow these to ‘do their thing’ and, as Liverpool found out recently, we'll come unstuck.
But I’m going for us not to allow the Welsh side that luxury and am hopeful also their new manager hasn’t quite fixed an AWFUL defence, which has conceded the most goals (52 from just 23 games!) in the Premier League (and still 15 in the last 6 despite some turnaround results).
It’s simple…even if we only play to 85% of our performance on Wednesday this should be a ‘home banker’. That’s what I’m going for…a home win.
Expected weather conditions during the game: Nice day for footy – a bit chilly at 5C but no wind or rain and the sun might even pop out some time during the game.