Friday, 6 February 2015

Top performance against ‘the top team’…

…now it’s time to blow the (mostly) ‘nitty gritty’ teams away.

‘Mini season’ starts now

For those who believe in fate and tempting the great gods of; perhaps what I have done - and am about to share with you - is a bad idea…certainly for our beloved Manchester City.

But what I HAVE done is look at mini-season leading up to and just before the Manyoo encounter and have tried to foresee the outcome of those 8 games; trying to gauge where we might stand going into the big, final 7-game push.

Why have I decided t do this? Well there are no “easy” games, of course; I would never – and neither should Pellegrini EVER – underestimate an opponent. However, when I looked at the fixture list before the start of the season I wasn’t the only Blue who looked at the last third of the season and thought, ‘Well…if we are there or there abouts come February; can find some form and remain fairly injury free then we’ll have a very good chance of retaining our title’.

I’ve also done this because, rather puzzlingly to say the least, there was a lot of TV football pundit talk before last Saturday’s ‘top of the table clash’ about both our and Chelsea’s run-in and although I’m not going to analyse Jose’s remaining fixtures; I just couldn’t see what they were getting at when calling our remaining games mostly tough ones, as they were indeed suggesting at the time.

So…queue February, queue my mini-season predicted outcomes, queue a home game against Hull City to start us off…

Hull City (H):                            W

Stoke City (A):                         W

Newcastle United (H):             W

Liverpool (A):                          D

Leicester City (H):                   W

Burnley (A):                             W

West Bromwich Albion (H):     W

Crystal Palace (A):                  W

I think we’ve got our ‘tails up’ once again now and with the returning Nasri, with games under the belt's of both Kompany & Aguero and with both Toure & Bony set to 'step in' also; I can very-much see 22 points coming from the next 24. Now that’s a platform to spring from in the final 7 games!

Now before I put some detail on the game against Hull City

…the Jovetic decision

Let’s get the obvious out of the way; Stevan’s days at Manchester City are numbered. If he isn’t playing his football in black & white stripes in Italy next season it will most certainly be away from the Etihad Stadium.

But regardless of whether the Montenegrin will be packing his bags for something longer than a summer holiday in June / July or not, it won’t surprise regular readers to hear that I think we’ve erred in choosing Edin Dzeko over Stevan Jovetic in the Champions League squad announcement.

It could quite easily be argued that Edin is the better goal-scorer of the two in terms of number of goals scored against games played but I would stop WAY short of using words like prolific to describe the 6’ 4” front man. Both strikers are quite disappointing in different ways…

-        Edin seems to go on ‘goal spurts’ (his best “disguise” in my opinion) and it could be described as both brilliant and quite frustrating in some ways that he often has a knack of scoring vital goals at vital times and in vital games. However, I struggle to recall a Manchester City player with a worse broody demeanour than the Bosnian and one which truly reflects his mood and, ultimately, his poor performances. I just don’t get what’s wrong with the fella most of the time. Add that to the fact that he more often than not struggles to control the ball and either by personal fault or design of our team game-play; rarely does he imposes himself aerially for a ‘big man’.

-        Stevan is something of an enigma too. He often looks like he’s bristling with talent and you can’t fault, whatsoever, his enthusiasm and endeavour. He often excites…but often without exciting, if that makes any sense? He’s far more fluid and adaptable (I’ll be coming back to that shortly) than Edin but for all his apparent skill with the ball, he all-too-often runs down blind alleys and dead ends. And for someone WITH the apparent skill and ball control, he seems to lose the ball far too easily half-way-through a mazy run. Bottom line though is the more crucial factor; similar to Edin he just doesn’t flippin’ score enough goals regularly enough for a forward and when you think about the creativity we have in the team, that’s a particularly damning report.

So why do I think the decision to drop Stevan and keep Edin in the sanction-imposed, restricted 21 Champions League squad is a wrong one?

Well for me it simply boils down to two things really.

1.     If we wanted a ‘big fella’ option up front for the Champions League – not that Edin GIVES us many of the apparent benefits a taller striker is supposed to offer a team – then don’t we now have that option in Wilfried Bony? Isn’t that why we got the Ivorian; a more-bullish forward to fill the void left by Alvaro Negredo’s departure?

2.     More importantly, for me, is the option Stevan would have given us. Even the often 4-4-2-stubborn Pellegrini now appears to be warming to the benefits of playing a variation of 4-5-1 in Europe (and other warranted occasions) and in Stevan we would have had the option of using him in a deeper or wider role; using his far-more-mobile ability without necessarily sacrificing a goal threat that he does have in his locker…albeit buried deeper than we would have liked behind a clutter of other items in his closet.

I’m not overly-concerned about this, however; I’m sorry to say that even if we do overcome Barcelona over 2-legs I don’t think we have it in us just yet to get past whoever it may be that lies in wait (probably Bayern Munich or Real Madrid).

And like the curates egg that he is; I’m sure Edin will now go and prove me wrong; and will do what he does “best” (other than sulking that is), which is to score in the crucial Champions League games that lie ahead. I hope he does of course but for now it’s…

Hull City

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.

4-5-1 / 4-4-1-1:










Subs: Caballero, Sagna, Mangala, Lampard, Nasri, Jovetic, Dzeko

This was SO difficult to predict…and I’m bracing myself to be quite wrong tomorrow. Why? Well there were just so many conflicting factors!

  • It’s quite often ‘Kolarov at home’ in our manager’s eyes but Clichy had such a good game at Stamford Bridge – and I’m guessing Pellegrini will want to keep as stable a back-4 as & when possible – that I’ve gone for the French left back. Aleks, in fact, to miss out altogether as also-impressive Bacary gets a bench slot.

  • Mangala is fit…but I’m guessing Manuel will be saving the bigger / stronger of the two central defenders for the physicalities of Stoke City away just 4 days later. Demichelis for this one then.

  • Nasri’s back with a week’s training behind him and our manager will be desperate to get his creativity back into the side. However, not just because it might be prudent to ease Samir back in gently; I also think that on our manager’s mind – and perhaps that of the like of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain – will be not wanting to upset a certain James Milner. Our manager would say that he’ll pick a team that he feels is right to beat the next opponents and won’t let emotion or other factors dictate his decisions…and rightly so. It is, therefore, fortunate on this occasion that he can – and should in my opinion - pick James on the fact that not only is he having a terrific season in general but also had a FANTASTIC second half display against The Pensioners last Saturday. He DESERVES a start. There is a rumour that the almost-ever-present Navas might be in danger of burn-out and might need a rest some time soon and, so, there could be room for both James AND Samir. However, at home I think Jesus will get another run-out and so I think it’s a bench spot for our French midfielder.

  • I think I’ll be right with the ‘front two’, although here too I thought our manager might want to stick Dzeko up top with Aguero with us being at home. However, Steve Bruce is almost certain to pack the midfield and so I think ‘The Engineer’ will recognise the need to counter that to some degree.

But there are a lot of variables there – I could be WAY off…

Result? A fairly bold statement here in that this will be our biggest win-margin of the season so far. I’m not suggesting for one moment a complete 90-minute walk-over but I think, at home, we’ll just have WAY too much for a struggling Tigers team.

No comments:

Post a Comment