Saturday, 28 February 2015

4 in a row?

This season we’ve impressively managed to banish the demons of 3 red teams this season by finally getting Premier League wins at Sunderland, Southampton & Stoke City. Can we now ‘put to bed’ the only remaining away ground we’ve not won at since our current owners have taken over?

Well the cards ARE stacked in our favour…

Fully fit squad v just back from a European trip

That sub-heading pretty much sums up the situation really as we go to Anfield for a 12-noon KO on Sunday in about the best position possible.

  • Everyone fit ‘n’ available
  • A Captain itching, I’m sure, to not-only prove the recent doubters wrong but also to banish his OWN demons of last season’s trip to Liverpool; where his miss-clearance lead to their winner in a 3-2 thriller
  • Yaya Toure rested and returning in a week where he’s also apparently said he wants to finish his career at City and stay here in some capacity afterwards (all this coming a few days after I posted my letter to him – Mmmm.…)
  • Wilfried Bony keen to get on the score sheet
  • A Thursday night, extra time trip to Turkey that ended in an agonising 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat, followed by a delayed return flight and…
  • ...God I hope they play Mario from the start!

Easy pickings then tomorrow, isn’t it? Yeah right…

But if we ARE the ‘real deal’ in the Premier League at least [if not the Champions League] then this IS a game we should be winning. Anfield is rarely, of course, an easy place to go; they still have a lot of class players that can hurt you and there’s always that 12th man from the stands whenever the Kop really gets going.

But for all the afore mentioned reasons – and, for once, before I do my usual predicted line-up etc. - I’m nailing my flag to a City win, which is a 100% change from my pre-season prediction of a defeat in this fixture.

v Liverpool

Predicted starting 11 & subs…













Joe to carry on in net.

Away from home – and the better of the 2 defenders – Gael to keep his left-back place despite and busy red-carded night on Tuesday. Likewise Pablo, who had a crackin’ game against Newcastle last weekend! Vinny, of course, and I think our manager will see the need to utilise Eliaquim’s pace over Martin’s experience & guile.

On form I’d definitely go for a midfield pairing of James & Yaya but it’s never going to happen is it? Fernandinho, therefore, to partner the Ivorian in the middle.

Tucked in from the line slightly and allowed to roam, I’m sure, are our creative wizards David & Samir.

Sergio slightly deeper in, in a way, an attacking trio with Nasri & Silva and, I think, just behind Wilfried, who I think will get his first Manchester City start.

As for the bench, huh…well, it’s just shows you that when they ARE all fit / available some proper first team names do have to miss out. The biggest casualties, if I’m correct of course, are Sagna, Fernando & Jovetic.

I’ve already given my prediction and I’ve already said they have players that can do some serious damage if allowed to – Coutinho, Gerrard, Sterling and Sturridge all spring to mind but also, as the Manchester Evening News pointed out yesterday, Skrtel; who has a habit of ‘sticking one on us’.

It’ll be a tough one alright but I’m fairly convinced that our superior class throughout and fresher legs will see us through in the end.

Concerns beyond the threat that they pose?

-     Kompany trying too hard and having one of those games / moments where he’s just a little bit TOO ‘pumped up’ and, therefore, not quite focused (my only ever and rare criticism of ‘our skip’)
-     Kolarov getting chosen instead of Clichy to face their pacy, attacking players
-     Mangala having a stinker (and Lord if all those 3 fears come together at once it’ll be a disaster!)
-     Bony trying too hard and becoming too anxious to be effective
-     Dzeko being chosen instead of Bony (or coming on) and having one of his sulking / can’t trap a ball days
-     In a strange way…that James Milner, how ever long he’s on the pitch for, has a ‘proving (another) point’ / come 'n’ get me Liverpool, blinding game…

Looking forward to…

-     Seeing Mangala having the same kind of game he had on his debut at home to Chelsea. That was, without doubt, ‘the’ best debut I’ve ever seen anyone have and I wish for the same every time he starts.

-     Samir, Yaya, David, Sergio & Wilfried ‘clicking’ and absolutely tearing the home side to pieces!

-     All 3 points and piling the pressure on Jose’s men, who take a break from Premier League action as they KO at 4:00pm after us against Spurs in the League Cup final.

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