Saturday, 14 January 2017

Rested and returning players for our trip…


…to Goodison Park; a ground with a troubled history for us results-wise (why couldn’t they have moved by now?).


Improving picture


Actually - and in fairness to our football club and record at The Toffees’ ground - it’s an ‘improving picture’ for us. In fact, the last 6 league visits to their ground reads: L L L W D W. May that trend continue tomorrow and beyond…

v Everton


Goodison Park

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-1-4-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4…

____________________Aguero____________________







__De Bruyne___________________________Sterling__
_______________Silva____________________________
____________________________Toure______________

_____________________Delph_____________________



Clichy_______Otamendi_______Stones______Zabaleta





___________(Outfield player with gloves on)_________



Usual suspect ‘in & around’ the goal area.

All fit & available…so it really is a guess who might make up the defence. I’m going for Pep to select Gael, Nicholas, sure-to-be-booed John and Pablo.

This next one could well be a rarity! 

Having made a surprise, 'pop-up' appearance with ’12 to go’ of 'the 90' at West Ham in the F.A. Cup and with no Fernando or Fernandinho today – and-having also had an 8-day break following that brief comeback role; Fabian could find himself starting as our defensive midfielder to face Ronald Koeman’s men. If I’m right, then ahead of the energetic England man should be an attacking quartet of Yaya, David and Kevin sure-to-be-booed also Raheem.

All of those in support of Sergio.

Willy the keeper insurance (performed well enough to retain the gloves in my opinion); Aleks, Bacary & the returning (again) Vinny make up our defensive cover. It’s all attacking replacement options from there, in the form of Left-sided winger / forward Nolito, (mostly) right-sided winger / forward Leroy and striker Kelechi.

Notable absences: Fernandinho (suspended: 2nd of 3), Fernando (in training / on way back from a niggle but not quite ready), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for rest of season), Jesus Navas (not selected) and Gabriel Jesus (now-apparently awaiting paperwork clearance before he can ‘get going’).

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


Looks good to me!

Result? Tough one but well do-able. If we’re ‘on it’, this is ours for the taking. I’m going for that to be the case (1:30pm KO GMT); bringing 3-points home from Merseyside.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Now THAT’S a Pep-like team performance!



We’re now on a ‘5 wins from 6’ run in all competitions, with some of those performances being half-decent / job done whilst others have been a game of two halves of mediocre followed by gutsy determination, spirit and vast improvement to turn the game and result to our favour. 

 

But last night was simply a pure joy to watch – the sort of football that used to leave me open-mouthed when watching Pep’s Barcelona & Bayern Munich teams (especially against us).




Such a difference…finally!


I’m just gonna repeat what I sent in a text to friends & fellow Blues last night, whilst enthusing over what I was witnessing on TV.

“Much better than what I-personally think we’ve seen from City too often of late, which, I think, has been [passing-wise], side-side-side-back, side-side-side-probe-forward with hope and a rather slow’ish pace”.

“This evening [v West Ham] has been attacking, creative midfielders controlling from ‘our 3rd’…but with intend to-then build quickly going forward”.

I also added that I felt much safer with Willy in net, who looked self-assured and appeared to-also breath confidence into his defenders around him (and no silly walk-abouts...).

The shape – particularly the afore mentioned midfielders who dropped deep but played with energy & quickness-of-passing in-going forward – looked much, much better and although we’ve had the majority of possession against teams for most of the time this season; this was possession with real purpose.

The typical-Pep work rate was there in abundance too – The Hammers just didn’t know what to do in order to get and then retain the ball! David Silva & Pablo Zabaleta (in midfield for the 3rd time this season) were both just brilliant!

After the match, Pep suggested that we don’t necessarily have all of the players needed to attack with real pace as much as he would like (finally some recognition of what a lot of us have been saying for weeks now) but that he ‘had a word’ with his players throughout the week and has conceded that [even more] possession was necessary!

Well for me, even if we only get 85% of what we saw last night for most-of-the-rest-of-the-season then we won’t go far wrong at all!

Patch-up job


When speaking about City lately, I’ve used the words ‘patch-up’ to describe what Pep might have to do to us, in an historically difficult transfer window, and that he might try to go back to one of his previous clubs in an attempt to pluck a player with whom he's worked with before / knows well.

We’re desperate for central defensive cover and a left-back in my opinion (Gabriel Jesus should give us the boost we need ‘up front’) and so I wasn’t at all surprised to see that our manager might be going back to Bayern Munich, in an attempt to get-in-on-loan a central defender…and one who can cover at left-back too, by all acounts.

Doubt


There has to be some concern about a player who, according to Sky Sports News this morning, has only played 18 times in 4 seasons and who has had a dreadful time of it injury-wise – in Holger Badstuber it sounds like we might be getting another Vincent Kompany. 20-months out with a double cruciate ligament injury was then followed by ruptured tendon in his thigh, which kept him out for another half-season.

I’m not sure whether, since then, he’s simply lost his place whilst in the treatment room and has found himself behind other very good defenders / can’t get his place back but he certainly seems available for a move away from a club where he’s spent most of his footballing life (and all of his adult professional career). In fact, the German international is out of contract in the summer too…

Quality


But when asked about the possibility of bringing in the 6’ 3” defender, Pep, who suggested it was indeed a possibility, was full of high praise for a player who had also established himself as a regular for the German national side (with 31 caps) and who is only 28-years of age in March of this year.

If he’s over the worst of his injuries and fancies making a possible January loan move permanent, then this could be a very good free transfer for us in the summer too.

Up next...

8-full days of rest now before we resume our Premier League campaign at Goodison Park on Sunday 15th January (1:30pm KO GMT). Fabian Delph is back and Fernando (knock), Leroy Sane (muscle injury) and even Vinny (knee ligaments) have all been given an estimated return date in time for the Everton clash.

Could that 'available squad-list' also include both Holger Badstuber & Gabriel Jesus next weekend I wonder?

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Blog annoucement - just no time...

Just no time for a blog-posting pre-West Ham. Needless to say, it would be great for us to wrack-up 5 wins from 6 in all comps; progressing through to the 4th round of the F.A. Cup.


Dream on...


I do, however and for a bit of quirkiness & fun, have time to share a mad dream I had about City last night.

We'd moved back to Maine Road and were playing Liverpool. We went 2-0 up only for Liverpool to pull it back to 2-2. However, we went on to win 5-2; the 5th being a great curler into the top right-hand-corner with 10 minutes to go from a player who looked remarkably like Michael Owen.

To see-out the 'final 10', we then changed the entire 11 and replaced them with the woman's team; with officials also allowing a small selection of children from the stands to play football in the corner areas of the pitch; providing they didn't interfer with play. I did say this was a dream...

No cheese-eating before bedtime was involved in the making of this crazy dream - work that one out!