Sunday, 19 October 2014

Post Spurs / Pre CSKA

The Spurs game had almost everything; mostly good but some not-so.


Great result though and if we are to salvage anything from a below-par start to this season’s Champions League campaign then it has to start with the same result against the Russians.

Pluses & minuses v Spurs…

Let’s get the minuses out of the way first.

Lampard’s injury looked like one of those that could side-line him for a few weeks – going down clutching your hamstring area is never a good thing. I’ve not heard anything as yet with regards of how serious / how long out. He had a good influence on the game for the 20-odd minutes he was on the pitch. Hope to see him back soon.

Fernando will have better games. I thought the M.E.N.’s rating of 6/10 was very kind indeed. It wasn’t just him-getting dispossessed for their only goal; I thought he was having a ‘mare’ in general. The same local Manchester paper added that apart from that slip the ex-Porto player went on to make some important tackles and interceptions. He did…but he looked more like an octopus ‘out of water’ in this game; he looked out somehow out of sorts and, perhaps, like he was trying too hard [to make up for his earlier error].

I’ve liked what I’ve seen from him for the most part and so, as I say, he’ll have far more better games that this one [to forget]. Get’s a 4 from me…

The centre of defence was ‘off’. Let’s not forget – and I said this before the game – Spurs, under Mauricio Pochettino, are a very good side that pose teams a lot of threat at times. They’re a lively bunch that’s for sure. But I thought our defence was a bit all over the place and a little panicky at times yesterday.

Like Fernando (and perhaps his off-day wasn’t helping the situation) Kompany has had better games and the usual calming influence of Demichelis wasn’t on show either. Good job both Clichy & Sagna had good games.

Although I thought it was at the time, I’ve since seen footage a number of times and their penalty wasn’t a penalty. Good job the resulting spot kick was weak (along with a decent save from Hart).

The plusses.

I’ve given praise to both Gael & Bacary but to make up for our soft centre yesterday Joe was immense! Some of the shots were ‘at him’ but he made himself big plenty of times yesterday…and literally saved us at 2-1. A excellent 9/10 game from England’s number 1.

Milner again was excellent. His energy and link-up play came into its own as Spurs ‘faded’, which James never does. He’s just gone into my Premier League Fantasy Football team not least for minutes played of late. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Nasri is back from injury but James has already well established himself as a vital component. It’s his shirt to lose…

Aguero the destroyer! Even looking ‘sore’ as he did, at times yesterday, he was not only deadly where it counted but his work-rate and body strength was colossal yesterday. Those early, extra strengthening sessions before each & every training session seem to be doing the trick [to keep last season’s ‘niggles’ at bay].

Get him in a hydro-pool, wrap him in cotton wool and keep those strengthening sessions going City…

Loved the song the City fans came up with and sang at the Spurs fans towards the end. To the tune of Joy Division’s “Love will tear us apart” we sang, “Ciii…ty tearing Tottenham aparrrt, a-gain.

One bloke was singing on the way out of the ground, “…tearing cockneys aparrrt, a-gain”, which it might well have been. Either way it works really well.

We’re not really here. No…really.

It’s been well publicised that Tuesday night’s game (5:00pm KO BST) is being played behind closed doors. And so one dedicated – some might say mad – bunch of City fans have splashed out a total of around £5,000 to fly over to….watch the game.

Where from? Well, as some Bayern fans had previously done; they’ve rented a flat in an adjacent building that towers over the ground so that they can watch their beloved Blues. Presumably they’ll be packing binoculars as well as their toothbrushes…

Quickly onto my prediction for the starting 11 etc.

v CSKA Moscow









Subs: Caballero, Clichy, Sagna, Demichelis, Fernando, Navas, Aguero

I’ll start from front to back and make immediate note of Aguero’s absence from the starting line-up. It might seem crazy to suggest but, as I’ve already alluded to, our Argentinean battleship appeared to be listing slightly…despite systematically taking Spurs apart on Saturday. I was surprised, in fact, to see him play the full 90+; expecting him to be substituted with 15 or 20 minutes to go to rest / protect him.

For all those reasons - and the fact that we have an early KO (again!) this time in the capital against an in-form West Ham side - I think our ‘Engineer’ will want to ‘bench’ Sergio as a possible impact player should he be required. Step forward then, I think, Edin & Stevan.

With us still-having no Samir Nasri available I think the ‘can seemingly run for ever’ James (HAHM-ez) Milner gets yet-another go on the left-hand-side. And although I don’t want us to over-use our midfield magician; David was withdrawn on 70 minutes against The Lilywhites and so I think he’ll feature once again in Russia.

Yaya was mostly rested (and looked quite sharp) at the weekend and so, for me, he definitely starts. And I’ve just got the feeling that the ‘inho’ version of our ‘Ferds’ will get the nod for this one – I’m sure the shorter-named one will get his place back against The Hammers…

The rested pair of Aleks & Pablo should swap places in the rotating left & right-back slots; Vinny to continue and, hopefully, Eliaquim to join him. I really do hope we see this pairing get some quality game-time now and start to make this potentially exciting partnership work.

I see the Pepe rumours are surfacing once again

Before the Spurs game I was going to suggest that Caballero might get a run-out against CSKA but after Hart’s exceptional showing against the North Londoners, I think Pellegrini would be hard-pushed to leave him out now.

Beside, similar to my wish for the Kompany / Mangala partnership to get some real traction soon and flourish; a steady relationship with an established keeper is also integral to a good, solid defence. I just wonder how much patience our Willy has though…

So…Caballero as back-up, along with defensive insurance of Clichy, Sagna and Demichelis. Despite us being away and him being the more defensive of the two; Fernando slips to the bench for this one. Navas & Aguero as two frightening impact players should they be needed.

Result? It’ll be a strange one for the players in-hearing their own echoing shouts to their teammates in a stadium devoid of fans. But if it IS going to have any negative impact on the players it’ll be more on the CSKA lads, I’m sure.

Not just for that fact, though, I think this one has a City win written all over it. The players KNOW that they have to win this one (and more of course) and will go ‘all out’ I’m sure.

CSKA must have something about them at home; at home they, “only”, got beat by Bayern 1-0. But then they simply got destroyed away at Roma 5-1.

With us playing on Tuesday and, therefore, having a full 3 ½ days before the early afternoon kick off against the East Londoners; the players can afford to put extra effort into this one. As I say, it’s an away win for me.

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