Whether it was enforced changes through injury or whether our manager had one eye on Tuesday night…or both; a slight change in personnel, a change in formation and an early blow to Sergio Aguero at Selhurst Park still couldn’t stop us from retaining our complete 100% record so far.
‘Spread too thin’ in the past…
Pellegrini has said time and time again that he always tries to win every game and every competition he puts his team into and, for the most part, that’s a very admirable stance.
|That look from yesterday says a lot...|
However, I have openly bemoaned this through my blog to some degree in the past; I just didn’t think we had the quality nor depth-in-squad to achieve his high ambitions and we have, in my humble opinion, then gone on to damage potential domestic glory by focusing on the Champions League a little TOO much; by weakening the side domestically ahead of such glamorous-looking fixtures.
I believed – and still do – our manager when he said in his pre-Palace press conference that David Silva had / has an ankle concern that they simple didn’t want to risk, which is MORE than fair enough.
But then-when fully fit – although he played for his country in midweek – Raheem Sterling was also dropped and we, instead, changed from a winning 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 formula to a much lamented [last season] 4-4-2 formation; there was more than a smack of changing (weakening?) the side with one eye firmly locked on the Juventus clash on Tuesday night…and that’s despite Manuel’s rhetoric that he only ever focuses on the next game on the fixture list, which is something I don’t always believe in such circumstances.
But we got over the line yesterday…just. Didn’t see it live but listened to the whole 95+ minutes on Radio Manchester. It was a close affair and we certainly didn’t play with the same coordination and swagger as we have done for the most part in the previous 4 games.
It sounded a little disjointed at times in fact and the ‘usual past suspects’ from last season came to the surface once more; with Messer’s Kolarov, Mangala and Navas all having below-standard performances in their own, unique ways.
Nasri too didn’t appear to have the same impact as a ‘starter’; whereas his previous ‘of the bench’ performances have been really good this short-season-so-far. Not too good either to hear that Yaya had one of those mini-tantrum-like performances; brooding as he apparently did through large parts of yesterday’s game.
|Ouch! Sorry sight...|
Although seeing Sergio limp off and having his knee strapped up (again!) is never a good sight; I just wonder if that saved / helped us yesterday in many ways. Just 25 minutes had gone on the clock when striker Aguero went off and attacking midfielder / debutant De Bruyne came on and, so, it was more of a 4-5-1 again. Taking nothing whatsoever away from the City players who earnt a 7/10 or higher yesterday; I’m convinced that was a sort-of ‘blessing in disguise’.
If my post-game blog-piece sounds a little dour and perhaps even negative then I don’t mean it to be whatsoever – I punched the air several times with delight and screamed “YES!” (I scared the dog in fact) several times at both Iheanacho’s goal as well as at the final whistle. And with Chelsea losing AGAIN yesterday it made the feeling just that bit sweeter!
We had the majority of the percentage possession and came away from a tricky ground with a win and ANOTHER clean sheet. Can’t really ask for any more...
Shame I’ve then woken up to well-over-the-top press coverage about Manyoo’s new signing Anthony Martial's debut goal…
I will also add that I do firmly believe that we have a MUCH better squad this season - both in terms of quality and quality-in-depth - and that does allow our manager to tinker a little more ahead of Champions League games this time round...a little more.
Change again for Tuesday night, I’m sure…
Sergio has apparently tweeted that his knee isn’t that bad – adding his thanks to all concerned Blues who messaged him. Seeing him on Sky Sports 1 limp off but under his own steam at half time I didn’t THINK it was a bad one.
However, I’ve got a feeling that Tuesday will be a little too soon for the Argentine battleship and, so, I think we’ll see ‘The Engineer’ revert back to a 4-5-1 come 4-3-3 again.
|Up next - Paul Pogba & Co.|
Perhaps that was always going to be the case against a strong European side (I hope so!) but with attacking midfield duo Silva & Sterling both now rested and, hopefully therefore, raring to go; there’s even more of a case to go with that system…a system that is likely to see a midfield 5 behind Wilfried Bony.
After a very good pre-season and opening 3 games of the season, Jesus Navas’ last two performances have done himself NO favours at all with the incoming Kevin De Bruyne. While others in the squad appear to have risen to the challenge of having their places challenged; Jesus appears to have had a mini-crumble under the pressure of competition.
However, that then leaves for a mouth-watering prospect of a Sterling / De Bruyne / Silva trio sandwiched in-between Fernandinho & Yaya and whoever the lone striker may be…
Note: I am only just starting work on a season prediction blog-piece. As previously stated I never intended to do one until the summer transfer window was closed but, since, I have been on holiday and so am a little behind on this…