Friday, 17 October 2014

A bit of a ‘late one’…

…for a bit of an ‘early one’.

Sorry, not for the first time, for the lateness and lack of blog-posting this week. I appear to be coming to the end of a difficult period family-wise (hope so anyway) that clearly affects my time with regards to Blogging.

Thanks, as always, for your patience.


Question marks

As is always the case following (another damn) international break it leaves question marks against your players with regards to injury and / or general fitness & fatigue. I was going to attempt a posting as early as Thursday but it didn’t work out and so, I suppose, posting one just 6 hours before the game gives me the advantage of having far better, more up-to-date information about who is, isn’t and might be available to play early Saturday afternoon (12:45pm KO BST).
Out is definitely Eliaquim Mangala who, Manuel tells us, should be okay for the trip to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night; a televised game to be played behind closed doors due to the previous behaviour of the home fans.
Nasri too is still about a week away from re-joining training with his colleagues.
Kolarov, Toure & Jovetic all arrived back late and although they carry no injuries, they may only make the bench due to excess travelling and a lack of game preparation time. Jovetic, however, got some crucial ‘game time’ for his country and came though that with no issues.
Fernandinho, we are told, is fit and has no problems; this following reports that his injury against Aston Villa was not going to clear up in time.
Although others, including Demichelis and Aguero, travelled long distances also, they arrived back slightly earlier; Martin having not-even come off the bench and Sergio only playing the first 60 minutes of his country’s last game.
There have been “issues” surrounding some of our stars whilst they’ve been away; the worst so far being that of the disgraceful scenes between Albania and Aleks’ Serbia. Although, from what I’ve seen and understand, the Albanian players appeared to come off far ‘the worse’, I’m sure it must have affected the Serbian lads too; including our own Kolarov of course.
And after a traumatic time personally at the end of last season, Yaya and his African colleagues now find themselves in a situation where their long-awaited (due to a year-delay ‘reshuffle’) African Nations Cup competition may be cancelled due to the horrendous Ebola crisis. Concerns too for the travelling Ivorian star were put to Pellegrini in his pre-match press conference. I’m sure some of the players concerned have friends and relatives who know people caught up in the catastrophe.

Straight to it then…

With the clock ticking down on this late posting of mine I’ll get straight onto trying to predict our manger’s starting 11, subs and ‘match outcome’. This, as I’ve already alluded to, is made more difficult on this occasion due to the afore mentioned, various fitness issues.
Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Sagna, Fernandinho, Toure, Lampard, Jovetic
I think the keeper and the back 4 pretty much pick themselves for this one; I suppose we could see Sagna start if Zabaleta too had a long journey and tiring game-play with Argentina…but I think we’ll see Zaba start this afternoon.
Similarly I don’t think there’s any doubt in the defensive midfield position, which should see a start for Fernando. Silva ‘attacking’ and flanked by Milner and Navas.
Now this too comes with some possibility of error - Frank Lampard has, for example, had a big rest and buoyed too, I’m sure, by his recent ‘Player of the Month’ award; he could well be thrust straight into this one from the start. If that’s the case then Jesus will most likely be the one to step down; switching Silva more out wide (but still ‘floating’ of course) and ‘Lamps’ in the middle. But I’m sticking with my prediction above.
Front two of Edin & Sergio is almost a given for this game.
As for the bench…
More than decent goalkeeping insurance, of course, and despite the notable lack of any obvious central defensive cover in my ‘18’; that’s a strong, strong bench.
Cover on the defensive flanks also comes with the ability, if needed, of Sagan; who can operate as a central defender we were told when he signed.
As for the rest…huh, well, there’s some serious ‘impact’ and ‘game changing’ players there should they be required.
And “required” I think they will be. I’ve got a lot of time for Mauricio Pochettino and he brings to a Spurs side full of talented players exactly what he brought to his exciting Southampton side last season. He has ‘em organised at the back – they don’t concede many – and can definitely hurt you on the break.
And that’s not to suggest for one moment that they are a ‘sit deep and counter’ type team either – I find that Pochettino’s sides are flowing, open, attacking ones…just with a bit of added steel at the back thrown in for good measure.
Result? There’s no doubting that this will be a very good game indeed and with the added ‘doubts’ that inevitably follow an international break [with regards to how your players return & react] it does rather make this a difficult one to predict. But that’s what I have to do.
Last season saw us utterly smash a very different Spurs side home and away in an amazing 11-1 league aggregate; this time will be a little closer I’m sure. What I’m going for is a close start to the game, perhaps even coming in at half time with a 0-0 or 1-1.
However, I think we’ve got enough ‘gears’ in us – especially with that bench – to take these today and, eventually, to take them quite comfortably. At home, it’s a City win and one by a decent (perhaps slightly flattering?) margin…in the end.
Due to the lateness of this this pre-match Blog posting I haven't the time to comment on the fantastic cup victory of our women's team (and terrific, title-deciding win over Chelsea just before that too). I'll give them far more 'Blog time' soon...

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