Sunday, 19 November 2017

Quick Blog note.

No time for a pre-Feyenoord Blog-posting but I am already prepping one for our next Premier League clash next Sunday, when we visit Huddersfield Town. Fingers crossed for no major family issues in the meantime; I'll get that one posted this-coming Friday evening or Saturday morning.


Quick word on yesterday 'n' stuff...


Despite predicting a win against Leicester, I must admit I got some wobbles a couple of hours before the game after first-being told by a reader (thank you again!) that Otamendi was suspended and already knowing that Delph was a doubt.

Thankfully, however, Fabian not only played but was, once again, outstanding...and where the HELL did Vincent Kompany come from?! I like to think I'm 'on the ball' with most things City but family illness issues aside; I didn't even know 'our skip' was back in training! He should have been sent off though...

I think we'll definitely need to bolster the defence in January - I thought we needed to before the close of the summer window and, in fairness, we did try. 



But I'm not sure with Delph playing so well (although he can be injury prone of course), having Danilo who can cover - although far less effective going forward down that flank - and £52M man Benjamin Mendy due back in 4 or 5 months that we need an 'out & out left-back'. However, I do think we're desperate for some central defensive cover.

Therefore - and in my opinion - summer target Jonny Evans who plays central but who can and has covered left-side would seem to fit the bill perfectly, especially entering the last 18-months of his contract come January.

Crackin' strike from Kevin De Bruyne yesterday; another superb attacking display from all and another clean sheet from our defensive department. Great stuff!


Friday, 17 November 2017

Foxes with stabilisers on.

As one of the 4, Premier League teams already this season to dispense with their Manager, our next opponents, Leicester City, could already say in some ways that their season has been one of ‘two halves’…in the league at least.

 

As they continue to march on the League Cup, they did most of their league-losing in the first 5 games or so, although it has to be noted that most of those were by narrow margins scoreline-wise at least.

 

Therefore, the decision was to ‘change the boss’, despite the fact that The Foxes appeared to have stabilised with a couple of draws and a win in the league, followed by another win in the same cup.

 

So, in comes Claude Puel regardless and he has continued that reasonable form with a 2-0 win at home over Everton and by coming away from Stoke City with a 2-2 draw. 

 

A team who have dropped like a rock and ‘faded to grey’ since their 2015/16 championship winning season, yes…but they still have quality in their side and are certainly no pushovers.


v Leicester City.


King Power Stadium


Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game which, for me Blog-wise, was the away game at WBA: 9/11).

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

___________________Aguero____________________


 



____Sane___________________________B. Silva____

___________D. Silva_________De Bruyne__________



_________________Fernandinho__________________

Danilo___________________________________Walker
_____________Stones______Otamendi_____________
____________Mangala_______Stones______________




___________________Ederson____________________

UPDATE (18.07.2017): Thanks to a keen-eyed reader, there's an amendment to my predicted line-up, with Eliaquim Mangala coming in for the suspended Nicholas Otamendi and Tosin Adarabioyo stepping onto the bench. Just goes to show you where my head is at the moment...


Braveheart Ederson has the gloves.

Nicholas & John in the middle of defence, Kyle on the right of that and with Fabian having a niggle but ‘not too bad’, I think Danilo will be asked to start on the left tomorrow.

Fernandinho sitting ahead of that pack; David, Kevin, & Leroy provide the more attacking midfield with, I think, Bernardo on the right of that with Raheem also recovering from a slight medical issue (but available from the bench).

Sergio the lone striker with the support of so much creativity.

Claudio as back-up to Ederson; Fabian likely to make the bench and Tosin as defensive cover also. Ilkay, Raheem & Gabriel the creative / attacking / goal-treat from the side.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured) & Benjamin Mendy (injured), Nicholas Otamendi (suspended for one game).

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



Yep.


Result?

I don’t like the first game after an ‘international break’ and although it’s similar for our opponents (did they have as many players away as us?), I often think we look slightly ‘off pace’ and a little ‘out of sorts’.

However, Leicester’s bike might have stabilisers on but ours is rocket fuelled at the moment. I think our hosts will score and it will be ‘a toughie’…but I think we’ll overcome this next challenge and come away with all-3 points. I WAS a little concerned about the defensive left-flank…now, following the update above, I'm even more so!

In fact, with Nicholas out, Pep might decide to sacrifice a midfielder and go 5-3-2/3-5-2 and play Mangala, Adarabioyo (or Fernandinho) and Stones in a 'central-defensive 3'. Either way, I'll stick with my prediced away win but I think this will be a high-scoring game - possibly a 2-3 or 3-4!

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

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Roles reversed?


Forget our attacking prowess for a brief moment…at home, West Bromwich Albion have to overcome & penetrate a defence that has only conceded 4 league goals in 9 games (and not many in other competitions either) - something we so-very-often have to contend with on ‘home soil’ ourselves!

 

The Baggies too have a reputation for being ‘steely’ and 'hard to break down' and do, indeed themselves, have the joint-6th-best league defence going into this game; leaking "just" 10 from 9 outings. 

 

Could be a case of, 'who blinks first'…


Brief word on last Tuesday night.


In addition to all that has been happening of late with family illness issues and just before a much-needed holiday; I woke up on Tuesday morning with a sore throat that soon developed into a 'seasonal cold'.

I made it to - and through - work but by 8:00pm on Tuesday night, I was nodding off and only discovered the City score on Wednesday morning! Well into my cold by then; through blurry eyes on Wednesday morning I saw on TV…

·         0-0 at full time
·         0-0 at extra time
·         Eventual 4-1 winners with the bizarre ABBA penalty-taking rule
·         Some controversy about Pep and some of the City players moaning about the flight / weight / shape / size or whatever of the ball used in the League Cup (or on the night at least)?
·         And that the referee had wrongly allowed us to use too many subs in extra time; another crazy rule change in the League Cup that went wrong at the time (and for Arsenal’s game too, with rumours also that we might have to play the tie all over again)!

I heard also that…

·         Claudio Bravo had a stormin’ game, with the Manchester Evening News giving the fella 9/10!
·         Oleksandr Zinchenko had a very good, 7/10’er at left-wing back.
·         Most of the rest were average at best; with quite a number of players producing poor performances, which was confirmed on Wednesday from a report I got from one of my mates who was there on the night.

So, assuming we DON’T have to have a replay against Wolves, we had an ‘off night’ and yet-still managed a clean sheet in open play and progressed into the quarter finals of the first 'trophy target' of the season.

v West Bromwich Albion

The Hawthorns

Brief, basic one is this – I am preparing to head off on holiday Saturday morning…

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

Fluid 4-4-1-1:

___________________Aguero____________________




____________________Jesus____________________



____Sane__________________________Sterling____

___________D. Silva_________De Bruyne__________


Delph___________________________________Walker

_____________Stones______Otamendi_____________





___________________Ederson____________________



Brief word…

Back to a more ‘familiar 11’ following mid-week’s game and, I think, a slight change in formation from the Fluid 4-5-1 / 4-3-3 we’ve seen of late with, instead, more of a 4-4-1-1 with 2 strikers.

Another quick note is that Tosin, I think, might get rewarded for a decent performance in midweek with a spot on the bench…equally Eliaquim might ‘sit this one out’ altogether after a dodgy display, by all accounts, on Tuesday night.

Having said all of that, I’m releasing this Blog posting before any pre-match press conference so there’s more room for error than usual…

Notable absences: Benjamin Mendy (injured long-term), Vincent Kompany (injured) & Eliaquim Mangala (Not selected).

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


Yep…we might need that formation / personnel to break ‘em down BUT Gabriel & Sergio might also have to help out by ‘tracking back’ if our hosts ‘pack the midfield’.

Result? Could be a game of chess but I think it'll be one where we’ll see their ‘king fall’ in the end.

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


Announcement: There’ll be no pre-match Blog posting before the Napoli game in midweek as I’ll be away (hoping to watch it somewhere though) AND there might not be time to release a pre-Arsenal one either, after I get back a-week-on-Saturday.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Top of the table(s) clash!


Both teams going very well in their respective leagues; it could be a very interesting clash in the League Cup tomorrow evening!


v Wolverhampton Wanderers.


Home sweet home again! Etihad Stadium.

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____


__________Gundogan__________Diaz_____________

____________________Toure_____________________


Zinchenko_______________________________Danilo

____________Mangala_______Otamendi___________





_____________________Bravo____________________



Update 24.10.2017: Thanks to a reader's information, Phil Foden has been removed from my predicted line-up as he is on international duty in India. In addition, I've since discovered that Brahim Diaz took at knock at the weekend playing for the EDS and, so, might not feature (but I'm leaving him in for now).

Obviously, there are gonna be some changes for this one…

The first of those? Claudio in for Ederson Moraes.

The next one is a rumour, as well as the obvious need to give, often-fragile, Fabian a much-needed break. Therefore, I think we could see Oleksandr step in as a left wing-back for this one, although the Ukrainian prefers to be in a far more advanced role. Next to him I think we’ll see Eliaquim step in against the Championship side but with Nicholas keeping some semblance of first team presence at the back. Danilo to get a shot in his preferred place at right wing-back.

Ahead of those I think we’ll see Yaya get his first start of the season, with both Ilkay & Phil in slightly more advanced / attacking roles in front of the Ivorian. The width to be provided by Raheem on the left, this time, and Bernardo on the right, I think.

Another rumour is that Pep wants Sergio to continue his fitness fight following his broken ribs incident…and the Argentine hitman could become our club’s all-time, highest goal-scorer on Tuesday night!

Ederson to take a break but there ‘if needed’; Kyle to do likewise. Tosin is likely to get a rare look at first team action from the side with Fabian ‘in there’ in case it all goes a little ‘pear shaped’ for the young Zinchenko. Fernandinho there in case Yaya’s first start is too much for the 34-year old Toure to last 90+; youngsters Brahim & Gabriel the attacking choices from ‘the 7’ seated on the side.

Notable absences: Benjamin Mendy (injured long-term), John Stones (not selected / rested), Vincent Kompany (injured – length unknown), David Silva (not selected / rested) & Leroy Sane (not selected / rested).

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


The left side of the defence concerns me a little, IF that is to be the line-up, but there are plenty of options to change that from the bench should it be needed; along with plenty of quality ‘out there’ to keep the visitors occupied.

Result? In their division, at least, these have been ‘banging ‘em in’! But they also concede in that same league too; scoring 24 but also conceding 13 in their first 13 outings.

To get this far in the League Cup, they squeezed past Yeovil Town 1-0 at home but did scalp Southampton away 0-2 before another, close 1-0 win at home to Bristol Rovers to set this tie up. No goals leaked in this competition for them, so far then…

With a changed look and, in particular, defence; I think we might just leak a goal against the Wolves. But we should have too much quality in our attacking ranks to get past these and into the 5th round.

It’ll be a good atmos and our visitors will, I’m sure, have plenty of noisy support behind them. However, I think it’ll be another home win before we finally hit the road on Saturday against The Wanderer’s arch-rivals, West Bromwich Albion.

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


BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m going away for a week’s holiday on Saturday and might not have any time for a pre-WBA Blog posting. Will see...