Friday, 19 January 2018

No time for a pre-Newcaslte Blog-posting.

Sorry about that - hope to get more time before the next league game at home to West Bromwich Albion (will see about postings before the next 2 cup games).

Sorry again for the break in service.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Let’s hope Mr Guardiola’s gamble…


…pays off against Liverpool because, despite saying he wasn’t going to underestimate Bristol City, for me he weakened the side a little too much last Tuesday night and should have, in my opinion, picked a side to try to almost kill the 2-legged tie at the first attempt [with 5-days rest before our trip to Merseyside]. His decision NOT to do that almost backfired. 

 

Indeed, that tie now hangs in a situation that is a little too close for comfort as we await the away leg. 

 

But having rested some key personnel in midweek, we should now be heading to Anfield with virtually a full-strength 11 & subs, which will be needed against such a strong attacking team and at a stadium that hasn’t proven the best hunting ground for us, even in recent times.


v Liverpool


Anfield
  
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game, which for me, Blog-wise, was the Premier League, Watford match: 8/11).

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

____________________Aguero____________________







Sane____________________________________Sterling

___________D. Silva__________De Bruyne__________


__________________Fernandinho__________________

Delph____________________________________Walker

____________Stones__________Otamendi___________




____________________Ederson____________________


Ederson back in net after stepping aside in midweek.

Fabian, John, the returning Nicholas and Kyle likely to make up the back-4.

Fernandinho resumes his position inbetween the defence and the more-attacking midfielders / wingers, which is likely to look like Leroy, David, Kevin & Raheem, who is sure to be booed by some home morons.

Sergio heads up all of those.

Jittery Claudio back on the side; Danilo, Zinchenko & Eliaquim provide various defensive cover. Yaya likely to make 'the 7', despite a sluggish-looking performance on Tuesday, along with the quality of Ilkay, and still-settling-in to some degree, Bernardo.

Notable absences: Benjamin Mendy (continues rehab following injury / surgery), Vincent Kompany (on way back from injury but quite likely still not ready for this game) & Gabriel Jesus (injured for another 2 to 3 weeks, which is far better than first thought).

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


I sure do.

Result? I think they'll be goals both ends. Of course, for their many attacking players to become a threat, they'll have to get the ball off us but, at home and over the 90+ minutes of course, I think that'll happen.

However - and despite me leaning for a while towards this one being a 'points shared' - having rested a few key players over the last 8 days I think we'll see a City team able to chip away at the home side for so very long, that I can see us edging this one and coming back to Manchester with all 3 points. Could be a very good game, could this...

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


A few words on transfer links.


Have Manyoo ‘done a number on us’ by sticking their mucky hat in the ring for the Arsenal forward? Yes…I’d have to they have indeed.


Are we right, as has been reported, not to want to go higher than £20M for a player who has less than 6-month left on his contract and who would then, of course, be a free agent? Well yeah…but I’d still push it to somewhere between 25-to-£30M for a player who would fit into our set up and Pep’s style of football, which is very familiar to a player who has played under the Spanish boss many times.

But yeah, there’s no doubt that Manyoo’s apparent, vastly improved offer of £25M plus Henrikh Mkhitaryan is going to appear to the North London club far more than a straight £20M, or there abouts, from us.

For me it’s really in the balance now and is all down to the player’s own desire to join Manchester City / Pep or not. He might want to now hang on until July and be in a stronger position to decide himself where he goes next. Over to you fella…

This one really splits City fans. Some don’t want him simply ‘cause he’s an ex-Manyoo player (very silly); some actually believe that just turning 30 means that he’s ‘over the hill’ (utter nonsense) or believe we should be looking for longer-term targets (fair enough but you’re less likely to get the younger quality you want in January)…whilst others just don’t believe it’s necessary to get another central defender, as we have enough cover, one way or another, within the squad (I agree to some degree).

Here’s where I stand on the Jonny Evans thing. Just go and get him. Why?

-       Vastly experienced at both Premier League and in Europe for both club & country.

-       A central defender who can – and has – covered at left-back if needed (and we often do), albeit not an attacking left-wing-back type player.

-       Although we have Fernandinho (33-years of age can I add, for those who believe that 30 is “past it”) who can cover in defence if needed on occasions; I think the Brazilian has enough on his hands being virtually the only REAL defensive midfield option we have, as Fabian Delph has found himself having to be full time left-back cover (what a great job he’s doing!) for the season-long injured Benjamin Mendy. Therefore, I see Jonny Evans as a much needed player to swell the ranks of our central defensive unit when I look at Vincent Kompany (injured far more than he is fit these days), John Stones (brilliant before his injury this season; wobbly moments since his return and he too has a record of breaking down for a few weeks a couple of times per season), Nervous Nelliaquim Mangala (who looks to have no self-belief whatsoever and far too often creates carnage in our defence and actively encourages opposition to ‘have a go at him) and Nicholas Otamendi (a VASTLY improved player but who, let’s not forget, has got it in him to pick up yellow & red cards). Do we need an experienced ‘steady Eddie’ in amongst that lot to take us through, at least, another 4 months of football in 4 competitions, as it stands at the moment? I would certainly say so.

-       He has less than 18 months left on his contract and, therefore, should cost us no more than £25M (with possible ‘add-ons’). Other interested parties? Arsenal and now, of course, Manyoo apparently.

From what I’ve seen on-line, this fella is definitely a Pep-type defender. Yes, he can tackle but more importantly, for what Pep likes, he’s very mobile and likes to pass / set up attacks.

As I say, I have seen plenty of footage of him on-line and the only thing that concerns me is that he likes to do a lot of his tackling by sliding in on the floor, Fernando “The Octopus” style. Fine…if he times it right. But in the Prem - and the way footy is going these days with more & more players simulating fouls – that style of tacking could be a risk.

I think I’m right in saying this fella would cost closer to the £40M mark and I was told yesterday that he’d picked up an injury but I just can’t find anything about that on-line.

Yeah why not? Good age too at 27-years of age in May. I’ve got a feeling this could be a summer signing.

And don’t be surprised, if we do sign Evans in the next couple of weeks, if we then go out and get Martinez too; as I can see both Mangala being sold in the summer and Kompany finally accepting after the season that he can no longer perform at this level.

Hadn’t heard of the Brazilian, central midfielder until recently and so, yep, another YouTube viewing was required, amongst other bits of research of course.


Looks very good indeed – a worker, a box-to-boxer, has a very good shot on him, a menace in the opposition area and has pace with the ball / good at breaking from deep at speed.

Although not nearly the height of Fernandinho or Yaya Toure at a mere 5’ 6.5’’, I think we might be looking at him as a defensive midfielder, although he does have one hell of a shot on him, as I say, and has scored 9 in 90 league appearances for Fernandinho’s old club, Shakhtar Donetsk.

Heavily contracted to June 2023 and, so, might be a £50M+’er. A summer signing if anything I would think.

Gone out so far…


23-year old, central defender, Shay Facey has signed for Northampton Town for an undisclosed fee and on a contract to June 2019.


19-year old, Right-sided forward, Isaac Buckley-Ricketts has gone to Oxford United on loan for the rest of the season.


Saturday, 6 January 2018

No pre-match posting v Burnley.

Hi folks.

Basically, I just haven't had time to prepare and release the usual, pre-match Blog-posting for today's F.A. Cup game against Burnley. Soz.

Quick comment though - I was as surprised (even shocked with the likes of De Bruyne, David Silva & Fabian Delph) as a lot of Blues were to see such a strong line-up v Watford last Tuesday but I was certainly not disappointed. Maintaining our exceptionally large gap at the top of the Premier League is most important as we head into the second half of the season that is littered with various cup fixtures to test the joints and energy levels of our players. So that victory was, for me, another vital one.

And there would appear to be no rest for 'em either, with Pep answering the question yesterday about him-possibly resting players and introducing younger lads for either or both the Burnley clash and the Bristol City fixture in the League Cup on Tuesday night by saying, "No", adding that he wants to win both games and competitions; cannot take our Premier League neighbours lightly and has already learnt to take Championship sides seriously also. Very wise.

So aside from injury-absences to Vincent Kompany, Benjamin Mendy, Gabriel Jesus, Phil Foden and POSSIBLY Kyle Walker - along with the possibility of David Silva being given more compassionate leave too - we should see, more or less, a full-strength side today as well as on Tuesday night. Keep taking the energy products and take advantage of all the facilities at the training camp lads!

It'll be a tough one today - aside from the physicality of playing so many games over the festive period - in terms of breaking down such an organised and otherwise impressive Burnley side...but I think we'll squeeze past them and into the 4th round.

I'll see how it goes with regards to a pre-Bristol City Blog-posting.

In the meantime, if anyone better informed and with more time than I have at the moment wants to post a comment to let me and others know when (and who) the last time we drew a side from the bottom two divisions in a domestic cup competition then I, for one, would appreciate it. And if anyone knows the answer to that, I wouldn't mind also knowing the time before that too. 

Why? Well, basically, whether it's in the League Cup or F.A. Cup we ALWAYS seem to draw a Premier League side or a team from the Championship...and usually a decent Championship side too!

Thanks, as always, for reading and once again sorry that I've not constructed the usual pre-match posting.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Battered, bruised and the games are coming think & fast!


Little time for the players to prep and little time for me also. Straight to it then…


v Watford.


Etihad Stadium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome:
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 7/11).

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

____________________Aguero____________________







Sane____________________________________Sterling

_________Gundogan___________B.Silva___________

__________________Fernandino___________________


Danilo____________________________________Walker

____________Stones_________Otamendi____________




____________________Ederson____________________


Ederson, the mighty hero, to carry on wearing the gloves.

Danilo, Kyle & Nicholas are likely to ‘go again’ but quite possibly joined by the returning John.

Fernandinho, Ilkay & Bernardo all to put in another shift too, with Bernardo likely to start in the middle of the park for The Hornets’ visit. Leroy & Sterling provide the width.

Sergio definitely gets the nod in the striker department for reasons of little choice otherwise.

Claudio has the extra pair of gloves; Oleksandr, Tosin & Eliaquim provide defensive cover from the 7 on the side. “Old man” Yaya to be joined by young kid Brahim as midfield change options and I’m going for Pep to dip into the EDS also for a striker replacement option…and for that I’m going for Lukas.

Notable absences: Benjamin Mendy (continues rehab following injury / surgery), Vincent Kompany (on way back from injury but possibly not quite ready for this one), Kevin De Bruyne (bruised and not quite ready for Watford), Fabian Delph (recovering but perhaps not in time for tomorrow night’s game) & Gabriel Jesus (injured for anywhere from 1 to 2 months from 31.12.2017).

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


Yes.

Result? Watford might come to Manchester thinking that there’s a chink in our armour for them to have a go at, weather that’s because our last two games have ended a close 0-1 (City away win) and even closer 0-0 and / or whether they look at our important players out and feel like it leaves us with an exposed, soft underbelly.

But our hosts roll into town with injuries & suspensions aplenty themselves, are most definitely out of form and will find a team still-full of quality awaits them. And, I’m sure, they'll also come face-to-face with a somewhat ‘wounded animal’; after yet another team shoved, kicked and downright ‘stamped on’ & ‘swiped at’ us.

Perhaps Watford might try the same bullying tactics as the last couple of teams – they do often come with a reputation for being a tough outfit. Yeah, they might well try to stings us…but I’m not sure that stinging a slightly wounded, ferocious animal is a good idea, especially in its own lair. This is a City win for me.

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