Sunday, 20 September 2015

Fine margins.

You just can’t give an inch in football today and if you do, you tend to do something like bring a 5-game winning streak to an abrupt end; with two back-to-back, 2-1 home defeats…

No real shame; certainly no panic and respect to the ‘oppo’.

Apart from a few individuals that WILL be named shortly, I thought we played pretty decent yesterday. The hard stats alone back that up with 27 shots to West Ham’s 6; 8 on target to their 3, 16 corners to their 3 and overall possession of 72%.

The underperformers, in my opinion, were Kolarov, who continues his slide following a good, 10-game run [from last season to Watford at home this campaign]; Mangala, who still looks mostly uncomfortable most of the time and, despite his very hard work rate again yesterday; Navas, whose endeavour – and not for the first time - produced very little ‘end product’.

Fine margin No. 1

It sounds a poor excuse from a fan who supports a team with the best strength-in-depth squad in the Premier LeagueBUT, it just goes to show you that if you lose a couple of key players and the opposition are in generally fine fettle and / or form, then it can prove to be big 'equalising factor'. Both in Europe and in our domestic leagues; it’s credit to all concerned that the quality of football has risen SO very much right across the board that the differences between teams, at times, seems negligible.

We lost Aguero, didn’t start De Bruyne and then lost ‘our Skip’ in-game against Juventus and, taking nothing away from the Italian side whatsoever who set up in a 4-4-2 / 4-4-1-1 and STILL matched our midfield for large parts; I believe those absences made a big difference.

Still no Vinny for West Ham and then the late, late loss of David Silva in the warm-up; well…I repeat, that made all the difference (imagine if we’d had Silva on instead of Navas).

Let’s not forget also that we have / had no Clichy, Zabaleta, Delph or Nasri options. Aguero also seems a little ‘out of sorts’ as a lone striker at the moment and it’s just not happening for Bony yet either.

Fine margin No. 2

Again, like Juve, taking nothing away from The Hammers; whether by luck or design I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a game where so many limbs managed to get in the way of shots! We didn’t just throw the kitchen sink at the London side yesterday; we moved up and into the bathroom and threw another sink, the toilet, bath and shower unit at ‘em! On another day that could have been 8-2.

All credit to ‘em indeed – their midfield, defence and keeper did very well on that front…and then when needed they popped up the other end and stuck 2 in from 3 efforts on target.

I will also add, however, that I thought Slaven Bilic’s men were a little dirty at times, TERRIBLY time-wasting throughout…and the ref was pretty poor to say the very least. But, ref aside, they did a number on us…and we have to both deal with that and, now, ‘suck it up’.

What a game though yesterday! A real 100%, blood & thunder cup-tie-like game in many ways. I don’t recall the pace dropping ONCE in the 94 minutes played…except when West Ham players were timewasting like crazy; causing the game to fall into ‘mini comas’.

Kevin De Bruyne had an excellent game - easily City's MotM.

Hurts a little, doesn’t it?

Not the sort of "hurt" I’ve seen Manyoo fans ‘go through’ when they strongly believed, in the past, that no-one had a right to beat them...but with Chelsea doing us a favour by pegging Arsenal back a little (God I didn’t think I’d ever be say that so early on this season) it makes the end of our 100% 5-game run sting a little more. C’mon Southampton later today

It may also leave Pellegrini in a bit of a quandary for Tuesday night. In the League Cup against a really poor-looking Sunderland side, I’m sure he would have loved the opportunity to change things considerably without necessarily weakening the side too much.

However, aside from the fact that injuries will limit what ‘The Engineer’ can do in 3 days’ time; Pellegrini might now use this game to try to fix the little recent issues with the majority of the ‘main 11’; perhaps giving Aguero some ‘confidence time’ to find the net and giving Otamendi & Mangala another partnership try-out. De Bruyne might even get a start to continue his introduction to the team / system.

I can see him possibly going 4-4-2 for this one though, as Bony also needs to start firing soon. Tuesday’s League Cup tie might just be a good opportunity to do so.

I’d love to see an EDS left-back have a go and I’m hoping, also, that Patrick Roberts gets a start. There’s a good chance Fernando will get some game-fitness time too; giving Fernandinho a little break.

Willy Caballero to get his first start of the season, I’m sure.

All of a sudden – although I personally like such domestic cup competitions anyway – this one looks all the more interesting ahead of Spurs away in the league next Saturday…


  1. Firstly, great write up, I enjoyed reading that.

    I didn't sit in my usual seat against West Ham and instead was in the second tier, giving a better tactical view point than my usual bottom tier seat. You mentioned that Kolarov was an under-performer and I wonder if West Ham's tactics had more to do with this.

    I noticed from my more lofty viewpoint that West Ham were pushing players onto our full backs therefore restricting their forward movement. Are we being found out from our start to the season where full backs played an important role?

    Still as you say we threw the kitchen sink at them and good luck to them they held firm. If only we'd started quicker we might not have been two down!

    1. Hi GingerWig (love the WEB name by the way).

      First of all, thank you very much for reading / commenting and thank you also for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed!

      I have a friend who sits - and always has done - in the lower tier and says that any higher you can all-too-easily become over-critical. I sit in the 3rd tier and although I fully understand what he means in-being able to see the playing patterns / what the players CAN'T see; I've never let sitting higher do that to me. I can understand how some would though...

      Yeah I think you may be right; West Ham probably did their homework on us and pressed our full backs out of the game. Good point. People who know me know that, in general, I don't think much of Kolarov (particularly as a defender); I think we could do far better. But I was full of praise for him when he went on a 6-game run at the end of last season and then continued that into the first 4 games this season. I don't like being too critical and never do so without justification.

      But I suppose having been not impressed for the most part for so long he is, therefore, always on my radar for being under the microscope more-so than some other players...and that's why I've noticed 'the slip' again in the last three games. He might need that competition for his place again...

      Yes, I agree that Saturday's game was crying out for us to start a bit quicker and as you suggest we might not then have gone two down and perhaps, instead, a goal first for City would have made it a whole different story.

      A good early chance to get that one out of our system tomorrow night now before, then - and wouldn't you just know it - a Spurs team that has just got some traction and won two 'on the bounce' in the league (plus another one in Europe); albeit two 1-0s against struggling Sunderland and then a home game to Palace.

      Thanks again for reading / commenting and hopefully you'll keep reading!