Sunday, 19 January 2014

100 up!

Another win, another 4 goals and the 100-goal-mark broken in record time. As we approach February still in all 4 competitions too – and with an almost certain trip to Wembley already booked – without ‘counting my chickens’; so far, at least, this is turning out to be best season in my 28 seasons as a season ticket/card holder.

Plusses & not-so plusses.

Edin scores the 1st yesterday; City 100th of the season!
I can’t really say minuses; nothing was that bad yesterday.

Hart had little to do but won’t be happy seeing “2” in the “against” column.

Zaba was about the best of the 4 defenders.

Kompany was solid for the most part; I’ve seen him have more comfortable games though. Demichelis performed his usual 50/50; looking classy at times but often chucking in a scare or three. What happened to this ‘modern way of thinking’ in that you need opposite footers in the heart of your defence? The other week it was Nastasic & Lescott (both lefties) and yesterday the right-footed combo of Vinny & Martin. Does it make a difference? I can certainly see the advantage of having ‘opposites’ but I just don’t know for certain how important it is really…

Kolarov went back to his old, ‘looked decent going forward but not so good defending’ ways. In fact with him AND Demichelis not having great defensive games yesterday we looked a little exposed by Cardiff (and Craig Noone) down our left-side.

Jetro Willems

Leighton Baines
Luke Shaw
I get twitchy in this area of the field for us; I’d still like us to sign left-back cover/competition…

I actually used the word “mistake” to describe Pellegrini’s decision when I heard the starting line-up and saw Garcia in the middle for the bench-marooned Fernandinho. I was convinced that Cardiff would play 5 across the middle and, therefore, he & Yaya might get a little overrun. Sometimes it’s nice to be proven wrong.

I thought the Spaniard had his best game for us yesterday – he actually got stuck in well, won tackles and covered the defence really quite well for the most part. As with Kolarov in recent times; game-time and confidence are indeed wonderful things (I remember similar a while ago with the transformed Barry & Milner).

Yaya had a cracking game and I hope he can overcome his niggling back issues. A nice, well deserved week’s rest at least lays ahead for him.

Navas continues to be a be a threat and added more to his growing assists and goals yesterday and Silva performed to his usual high standard.

No goals but still excellent play from Negredo; Dzeko had another very good game – probably the hardest I’ve seen him work for a while too.

Aguero - sensibly left on the bench - did his usual damage in just ½ hour or so (goal and assist); Milner got at least 10 minutes and was buzzing around as always and although he only got a few minutes at the end; like Kolarov, Clichy didn’t look too comfortable dealing with Noone. Have I said this already - I’d still like us to sign left-back cover/competition? J

Cardiff City fans got a but tetchy at one stage in the first half; fighting amongst themselves for a minute or so. Probably something to do with a dispute about what colour shirts they should be wearing, although our fans were singing, “Are you fighting over sheep…” J

1 week, 2 games, 0 Premier League

Upton Park/Boleyn Ground
Two back-to-back cup games up next. Watford at home in the F.A. Cup on Saturday and a quick note here: The other day I said that City were perhaps a little bit mean by charging City fans (where I sit) £20 for the replay against Blackburn, especially having JUST taken £29 and then £45 for the West Ham and Barcelona games respectively. The Blackburn game was the 3rd round (1st round for us); the Club had already decided to close tiers and move home fans and it was televised on “normal” TV.

So…’very well done’ to City this time for only charging £15 (again, for where I sit); a very pleasing if not slightly strange decision. I say strange because it’s now the 4th round and so with us drawing yet another Championship team you’d think the price would creep up a little. Perhaps, then, City did eventually have an attack of conscience or perhaps received a number of complaints…

But before all of that is one of the strangest matches we’ll go into in a while I’m sure. A semi-final usually brings with it nerves, excitement and, of course, a lot of interest; being as it is a route to Wembley and possible silverware of course. On this occasion, however, I can see West Ham's ground being half-empty and as we go into a game against a very poor-form team already 6-0 up; I just can’t gauge how this one is going to ‘play out’ at all.

In it’s own, strange, unique way it carries with it some real intrigue and I, for one, am glad it’s on the telly…

So this is, perhaps, the most difficult Pellegrini predicted line-up I’ve ever had to do. Here goes…

Formation: 4-4-2 (4-4-1-1)












Subs: Hart, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garcia, Navas, Negredo

Of course this already-difficult prediction-line-up is not helped by the fact that I’ve got to ASSUME that both Jovetic & Rodwell are fit for this one – I’m doing this before the pre-match press conference 2-½ days before the game of course.

Costel in goal is a no brainer; likewise Gael & Micah for Aleks and Pablo. Having gone with 2 right-footed players against Cardiff then I suppose I’m going for the 2 rested ‘lefties’ to partner each other in the centre of our defence - it might even be done this way so-as-to give Sam Allardyce one last, close-up look at Joleon before he decides whether to ask City for a rest-of-season loan.

Fernandinho has only played 45 minutes of the last 2 games and so I’m sure he’ll get a start on Tuesday night. As I say, I have to assume Rodwell will be given his chance alongside him too.

Surely in a game like this Marcos Lopes will get his first ever start and with James only seeing about 10 minutes of action on Saturday; I can imagine him coming in for the recently well-used Jesus.

As well as having to assume that Jovetic is fit to start, I just wonder if he’ll give Aguero a start this time. That starting line-up should be enough to see us through to half time at least on level pegging - or perhaps even a goal or three FURTHER ahead - and so there’s always then the option of removing them both on 45 to 60 minutes.

There’s more than enough decent defensive cover on the bench; Kompany might get a full night off here. The revitalised Javi is now becoming a match-day-squad regular and so is almost a sure bet to be at least on the bench. And the reason I don’t think Manuel will pick any more EDS players [other than Lopes] is because I think Pellegrini will see Jesus and Alvaro as good cover-replacements for if/when he has to withdraw the front-two-pairing.

Vinny, David, Yaya and Edin all get well-earned rests (I’ve gone for Alvaro on the bench ahead of Edin simply because he was withdrawn against the Bluebirds).
Result? Over the 2 legs we’re going through to Wembley! On the night, a win also…


  1. I agree, Steve, Garcia did have a good game; the only criticism I have is that he prehaps should have tracked the movement that led to Cardiff's first goal.
    Toure excellent, so too Navas. I felt we were reasonably comfortable, although Noone looks a good player (reminded me of A Johnson), and took his goal well.
    I stand to be corrected, but I think that the price structure for cup ties has to be agreed between the two clubs, and I don't think Blackburn were agreeable with City's plans....maybe Watford are, and it's a similar level to the tie last season.
    Certainly hope for a good crowd.
    I've assumed Rodwell and Jovetic aren't fit for West Ham, although they are 'close'...Garcia for Rodwell, Navas for Jovetic, and Dzeko for Aguero are my only differences to your XI.
    However, I wouldn't be surprised if Aguero does start, and completes a 60 minute stint.
    Avoid defeat and injuries (Nolan?) is my view on it.

    1. Noone sure does look like a good player and will probably come on even more under Solskjaer.

      That rings a bell with what you say about cup price tickets. Could well be...

      Yeah I must admit it does seem too much to go from nothing to a start for both Steven & Jack. Perhaps both will start from the bench.

      Yep...Nolan can sure leave a foot in or two.

      Cheers Col...