With the fff…flippin’, never-seemingly-ending, summer-transfer-window-gossip still having a few weeks to run; I don’t intend to publish any ‘season predictions’ regarding Manchester City or otherwise until the now-[for me]-laborious window slams shut; and we know exactly how strong or otherwise-weak the 20 Premier League squads look.
And so for my first season blog posting I’ll keep it fairly simple and will, instead, dive straight into a largely ‘standard’ next-game, pre-match prediction. Fairly short ‘n sweet this one…
Not a [sub heading] word I was hoping to consider using going into the first game but one, sadly, that is on the lips of a lot of City fans. So what are they?
- The defence in general, really, is the main one. Games against Roma, Real Madrid, Vietnam’s national team and Stuttgart alone saw us ship-in 11 goals…and the last game against the German side looked considerable worrying with regards to how uneasy-looking the back 4 were; even taking into consideration the lack of a regular defensive midfielder for that game. Of course we had no Pablo Zabaleta at right-back either…and on the opposite defensive flank we did have a certain Aleksandar Kolarov. But it was, once again, the centre pairing of Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala that was the cause of some head-holding along with a somewhat familiar sense of foreboding. The jury is still most definitely out about the former Porto big man…and more-recent question marks are being raised about our long-term stalwart & captain too. So with fans still debating our best two central pairing - that includes last season Celtic loanee Jason Denayer – in the days leading up to the big KO; it certainly leaves you feeling a little jittery to say the least.
- Perhaps, then, needing some considerable protection; the back-line concerns then shift slightly further up field with regards to who might be the ‘protective midfielder’. Although fitness fears have seemingly been eased in recent days; previous noises from the club suggested that Fernandinho won’t be risked; needing – like Zaba, Martin Demichelis & Sergio Aguero – extra preparation, come-back-time following the Copa America. Fernando apparently had some ‘niggles’ and didn’t feature at all in Germany and new signing Fabian Delph is being treated for / recovering from a pre-season hamstring injury. Others in the squad CAN cover there of course but ‘The Albion’ must be rubbing their hands just a little at our potential ‘soft centre’.
Keeps it interesting though, doesn’t it? We’ll just have to score more than them…
v West Brimwich Albion
Predicted line-up, subs & outcome...
4-5-1 / 4-3-3 (the likely formation for the majority of the season I think):
Every pre-match prediction comes with error risks – it’s an educated guess at best of course and this game is no different.
This one, in fact, comes with a lot of doubts about the forward line in particular; with Manuel Pellegrini somewhat surprisingly confirming in his pre-match press conference that, squad-wise, all but ankle injured Gael Clichy and new signing Fabian Delph are apparently fit to take part!
However, with Nasri, Silva and Aguero (the latter also engaged in post-Copa America, extra-break fitness time) all suffering a mid-week bug and with Wilfried Bony also seriously lacking any pre-season match action following HIS summer illness; it’s difficult to see either Bony or Aguero starting at The Hawthorns…especially for Sergio ahead of an early ‘top clash’ with Chelsea just 6 days later.
And, so, will our manager “risk” starting young, Premier League-untried Kelechi Iheanacho? Well…that’s what I’m going for; with Raheem & David ‘in support’. And with [in my predicted line-up & subs] Sergio & Wilfried waiting on the bench to come on, that’s some serious striking / formation options ‘all in’.
Zaba & Demichelis too have had their pre-season preparations set back a week due to the same South American competition but with no natural left-back cover available unless we dip into the EDS; I can imagine Pablo getting a ‘bench spot’ at least and, if needed, either him or Bacary covering there if required to at some stage. Other than that, Kolarov to get a full game (groan)…
Fernando to get the early opportunity to make the defensive midfield slot ‘his own’ and ahead of him ‘in the middle’, Samir & Yaya. Now it might look a little strange to see Samir more central and David further out on the left but I’m going off the now-often-talked-about “good understanding” and “partnership” our Spanish wizard developed with Raheem in a two-pronged supporting role behind a loan striker. Silva & Sterling might even swap sides; if not at the start then almost certainly throughout the game.
We’ll see – as I say there’s plenty of room for errors in my prediction…and early season is always even more difficult.
Strong bench where I nearly included Marcos Lopes. However, I can just see our manager wanting defensive midfield cover in case Fernando breaks down and although probably not fully match fit himself; Fernandinho should have enough 'in his tank' to come off the bench if required. Shame for Marcos though...
Jason Denayer gets the central defence cover role [ahead of Martin Demichelis] and Jesus Navas to provide fresh, pacey legs if needed in attack support.
Result? They’ll be goals at both ends I think…but it’ll be City who’ll score more. Away win.