This is where it’s time for REAL heroes and players with hunger stand up and make it count. As for the fans, it’s another finger-chewing weekend in prospect…
Sorry for the delay…
Just a quick apology – I would normally like to get a pre-match blog-posting on a couple of days before a game; at least one day before at the very latest. Simply put, I’ve just not quite had the time at home (I must join the 21st Centaury and invest in a laptop device in order to do stuff when I’m not at home…)
There was also no pre-match press conference released up to me leaving home for work on Friday, which makes any pre-match personnel & formation difficult to predict [with no news of who’s fit and who’s not].
I also now appear to have caught the dreaded lurgy that’s been going around for weeks – I can’t speak too well and have a rasping cough that, I’m sure, next door can feel through the foundations of the adjoining house!
Be mindful of THEM or play to OUR strengths?
That’s often the dilemma for a any manager, especially when playing a team which has obvious strengths that have proven affective time and time again throughout the season. Manyoo recently visited Goodison Park and I’ve since heard a dozen or so reds bemoan how the now-departed David Moyes just didn’t set his side up with the right personnel to cope with the attacking full-back qualities of both Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman.
But although I’m sure Manuel Pellegrini will be fully ‘clued up’ and completely aware of just where and how Everton can damage us; it’s just not in his nature to be overly focused on the opposition in a way that shapes his entire team selection. Instead, Manuel will be looking at how WE can damage THEM – dare I say an old Manyoo attitude of ‘let them worry about us’; let’s be a goal-threat to them first and foremost…
However, for a bit of “fun”, let’s first just see how we COULD set up this evening if Manuel suddenly got an attack of cautiousness.
4-4-2…with a twist:
Huh…to be honest, that’s pretty potent! For starters that’s probably the strongest defensive back-4 line-up we could possibly pitch.
And - and here’s the key - slightly advanced attacking wing-backs sitting ahead of Clichy & Zabaleta in the form of Kolarov and Milner. Plenty of overlapping, plenty of strength in defensive duties but with the added fluidity and attacking support when required also.
Lying slightly ahead of those would be the fully supportive [in attack] David Silva and Yaya Toure, with the most likely pairing of Sergio and Edin up front.
Okay, so perhaps the middle of midfield is a little soft in terms of defensive qualities but, as I say, Kolarov and Milner would be quite fluid in this set up and would 'nip in' and help to 'break up'. And, crucially, this would certainly be a set up that would put them on the back foot in many ways.
But I very much doubt ‘The Engineer’ will go for anything like this, so let’s get on with my predicted line-up for tonight’s truly monstrous fixture…
4-4-2…with NO twist:
Subs: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Lescott, Garcia, Milner, Jovetic, Negredo.
Hart, Demichelis, Kompany and Zabaleta of course. Although I was wrong in predicting Clichy starting instead of Kolarov away at Palace last weekend I think he’ll go for the more defensive qualities of the Frenchman on this occasion.
Navas is the only injury [with Nastasic only training with the squad throughout the week but not yet fit to take part] and so with the (surprise?) inclusion of David Silva; I’ve gone for him to start in a ‘middle 4’ that’s about as strong as it gets too.
Aguero and Dzeko to ‘carry on’ up front.
Strong bench too – cover in most positions with an impressive duo who would make most Premier League team’s starting line-up in Jovetic and Negredo.
Result? We’re not only looking VERY strong personnel-wise but we have our tails well ‘n’ truly up now; not to mention having the biggest incentive to go out and ‘own’ this game.
As for Everton? Still a danger of course but as well as ‘wobbling’ of late; they have injuries to key players in all departments.
Even a weakened Toffees side will be a threat – and they have a canny young manager in Roberto Martinez – but this one is all 3-points to City!
Rather than ‘settee & beer’ I rather think this one will be ‘bed & cough medicine’ for me this evening. A win, though, would be a huge tonic…and I might just then attempt to celebrate with something stronger than a cough bottle…