Saturday, 18 May 2019

3…is the magic number.



Some might argue that we already have 3 trophies, having won the Community Shield and that debate will go on and on and on. I’m easy with either and I’m just enjoying this wonderful time in general and this season’s marvellous achievements so far.


Wembley

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 10/11).

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

___________________Aguero_____________________







Sane____________________________________B. Silva

__________D. Silva_____________De Bruyne________

___________________Gundogan___________________


Zinchenko________________________________Walker

____________Laporte__________Kompany___________




_____________________Ederson____________________


Subs: Muric, Danilo, Stones, Fernandinho, Mahrez, Stirling, Jesus.

There’s a good chance I could slip from recent 9s & 10s out of 11 in my ‘starting 11 predictions’ but what I’m suggesting here is a little shuffle from Pep for this game; respecting the opposition, the competition and realising, of course, the immense opportunity ahead to be the first English men’s football team to complete the domestic treble (or quadruple)…but ALSO rewarding some players who missed / largely missed the final league game of the season last week.

So…

Ederson in net.

I think the back-4 will remain the same also, with Oleksandr & Kyle either side of Aymeric & Vincent.

I think we’ll see Ilkay start again too as the deeper-lying midfielder but, this time, with David joined by the returning Kevin, who should by now have had enough ‘getting back up to speed’ time after his latest injury setback. Either side of that trio, I think Leroy will be given a ‘Thanks for your patience / understanding’ start on the left flank where he should enjoy the open spaces, with Bernardo in his arguably most effective area on the right.

Sergio to be the lucky recipient of all that creativity ‘up top’.

Aro the reserve stopper; Danilo & John the only ones on the side as recognised defenders. I’m sure Fernandinho will be part of ‘the 18’ and I’m guessing, having-had just 2-full days training up to yesterday, that any minutes on the pitch will come via a substitution. Riyad, who had a much better game last weekend, Raheem & Gabriel provide a frightening array of attacking threat from the side.

Notable absences:

-       Claudio Bravo – Travels…but not selected.
-       Benjamin Mendy – Injured.
-       Nicholas Otamendi – Not selected (and could be getting twitchy for a summer move with a lack of playing time this season and most certainly of late).
-       Fabian Delph – Not selected (and unlikely ever to be again for Manchester City, I would say).

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


Against any pacey attack – and, let’s face it, most attacks have some pace in them somewhere across the line; even if it’s not the ‘centre forward’ – I will always be a little twitchy with the older legs of Vinny ‘in there’, especially in the wider spaces the Wembley pitch offers. Would I pick John or Nicholas instead for that reason? Probably not given our skip’s fine form and other attributes that can keep him and the team safe / get him out of trouble. As long as Ilkay & Aymeric look after any “pace issues” I’m fine with that.

I’m also fine with the other 10 and hope that both Kyle keeps his head and recent form going and that Kevin doesn’t OVER do it and lasts nearer ‘the 90’.

Result? Do NOT take these for granted. That’s both my message and one, I hope, Pep will have told his buoyed players.

I watched the Watford v Wolves semi-final as it was a match that intrigued me – one team, Wolves, with excellent organisational and defensive capabilities but, sometimes, lacking REAL firepower; while Watford are much more skilful and pacey in their attacks with goals likely from a number of sources BUT, who, can be quite vulnerable at the back a lot of the time.

Even when The Hornets went 0-2 down to the Midlands club, I just got a feeling that they had it in ‘em to bounce back which, of course, they did to face us. And, of course, it’s the latter set of attacking qualities that we’re facing this evening.

As I’ve already stated, this is why we need Ilkay to be ‘on his guard’, should he start…or might be the reason my predicted 11 is off and we’ll see a return from injury of Fernandinho. It’s definitely something we need to be mindful off, especially with a ‘pumped up’ Troy Deeney spearheading their attack.

But while I’ve gone on long enough about the threat they pose and potential issues we might have in our rearguard, of course they’ll be looking at the attacking 8 of Oleksandr, Kyle, Ilkay, David, Kevin, Leroy, Bernardo & Sergio and might wonder how the HELL they’re gonna keep ‘em out, let alone get the ball for a sustained period in order to generate their own form of assault!

Could be a crackin’ game!

I’m going for a ‘domestic 3’ (4) trophy, City win today.

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


Hyperlinks to be completed later - I'll miss the flippin' kick off releasing this blog-posting in time at this rate!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Let’s finish this. Let’s FINISH it!


I’ve followed City for almost 40 years and the majority of that time I have had a season ticket. During that time, as many of you can imagine, I’ve been ‘right there for’ so many key, very stressful games where a result hinges on us either going up or, far worse, surviving in a division.

 

But, as I said to someone the other week, the last few games that have included three, narrow 1-0 wins and a tense affair also in a local derby where we finished 2-0 victors have, in many ways, felt far more stressful.


Why would that be?


Well, there could be other factors that I’m not about to list but I think one of the of the reasons is that, not long ago, a lot of us Blues actually began – and dared – to dream about the possibility of actually winning all FOUR trophies and although one of those was snatched away from us in the dying seconds; still the thought of the prestige of us possibly completing the domestic treble is mouth-watering and it would be a blow if we were to stumble in our last week of the season.

Another reason is close to a lot of Manchester City fans’ hearts, which is the retaining of the Premier League trophy, a feat that comes with a lot of kudos in the world of football both here and abroad.

Liverpool, to their great credit, have pushed us so, so hard this season that the banter we Blues have watched from the side lines for many-a-year between the Merseysiders & Trafford has now drifted our way. Last season we finished 25 points ahead of our title rivals; this time, huh…in case you don’t realise, just 1 point separates our great clubs as we go into ‘game 38’. That’s some catch up and that too has added to the pressure a lot of City fans are feeling (Liverpool fans too, to a great extent I’m sure with no league title in 29 years).

I would be gutted if we blew the league now not only because we’ll have thrown away all of the hard work in a season where we’ve had to show so much metal due to being plagued with injuries and loss of form to key players but also, for me anyway, if we do finish second, that-then takes the gloss off the up & coming F.A. Cup final; in that the game then becomes a pressured ‘must win’; hoping to avoid a season of 4 trophies morphing into us “only” winning the League Cup.

You’re right, I’ll stop that sort of talk now…


Falmer Stadium, American Express Community Stadium...or just "Brighton's ground". Take your pick...

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:

___________________Aguero_____________________







Sterling__________________________________B. Silva

__________D. Silva______________Foden___________
___________________Gundogan___________________



Zinchenko_________________________________Walker

____________Laporte__________Kompany____________




_____________________Ederson____________________



If I’m correct, this starting 11 requires the shortest write up of the season. Basically, I think our manager is gonna pick the same team who faced Leicester City last Monday.

A slight change on the bench, however, which starts with Aro as the reserve keeper, with Danilo, John & Nicholas providing a lot of defensive change options should we feel desperate to ‘shut up shop’ at some stage. We could see Kevin return to ‘the 18’ should we need an injection of magic with Leroy & Gabriel providing wing / striking choices from the side.

Notable absences:

-       Claudio Bravo – Not selected.
-       Benjamin Mendy – Apparently injured again with a flare-up-reaction in the knee that was last operated on. I think he’s actually seeing a specialist in Barcelona.
-       Fernandinho – Still injured and is a doubt for / will be assessed ahead of the F.A. Cup.
-       Fabian Delph – Not selected (and I think that’s goodnight from him…).
-       Riyad Mahrez – The Algerian could…COULD be the one to make way completely for the returning Kevin, which won’t improve his already sour mood in his first, underwhelming season as a Manchester City player. I say could; it all depends on whether Pep wants to load his bench with a lot of defensive options ‘in case needed’ - and as I’ve predicted - OR go with a more ‘attacking reserve’…’in case needed’.

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


No, I’d start with Leroy instead of Phil and have Raheem on the right and Bernardo in the middle with David & Ilkay as a starting 11.

Result? Well, I’ve talked about pressure but I also want to-now talk about experience.

Not only have a lot of these players won 3 Premier League titles with Manchester City as well as being triumphant in lots of pressured semi-finals and domestic final victories but, let’s not forget, the 2 previous Premier League title wins before last season’s 19-point chasm came with a ‘must do’ in the last game (a lot of people forget about the West Ham United, last game of the (2013 / 14) season and although a lot would say that there was barely an enxious moment in that game, it was still a 'must do' moment).

Put another way, we’ve been here before and very recently in our history too.

As for Brighton? It was looking a little ropey to say the least for them a few weeks ago but 2 back-to-back draws that included an impressive 1-1 away to Arsenal along with other results around them sees them safe by 5 points going into this game.

That sense of relief could prove positive for them and they may now wish to express themselves more than they would have if the game had been crucial for their survival. If that’s the case, I think that’ll be to our advantage and we would then, I’m sure and in my opinion, pick ‘em off in the open spaces.

Then AGAIN…they could do what so many teams have done to us in recent weeks and build 2 flippin’-big walls to try an’ keep us out! It’s also the very last game of ‘their Zabaleta’; with local, Spanish right-back hero, Bruno, announcing his retirement with well over 200 games under his belt for The Seagulls. He’ll want to have a good game at the back…

Do I think we’ll blow it now? Well, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a few butterflies in my stomach and, especially, after a crazy-wonderful week of shock results & comebacks for our English teams in Europe (a ‘full English’ as one newspaper put it)!

However, although I know football isn’t always logical; I just look at our players v theirs in terms of quality and look also at both the experience they have in such games, along with how determined and well we’ve been playing of late.

I have to put this down as a Manchester City, trophy-lifting win.

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