…we were rudely interrupted by the Champions League?
So we were…
…Played 5. Won 5. Drawn 0. Lost 0. For 11. Against 0. That’s more like it and, so, let’s add to that against The Hammers!
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome v West Ham United…
4-5-1 come 4-2-3-1 come 4-3-3:
For the first time this season…NOT the same back 5 (Hart included). Calf victim Vincent Kompany to be, likely, replaced by Nicholas Otamendi, who should make his full City debut later today.
Same midfield 2 of Fernandinho & Toure and ahead of them the trio is HIGHLY likely to be Sterling, De Bruyne (another full debutant) and Silva.
Aguero to spearhead our attacking quartet.
We’re getting a bit thin defensive-cover wise, but ol’ dependable Demichelis hangs on in there on the substitute bench. Fernando – perhaps lacking match fitness but injury free at least – to provide defensive midfield insurance. I nearly went for Manu Garcia as an EDS presence ‘in there’ but midweek reports form the Under 19s against Juventus rave about a fine performance from Patrick Roberts he and may, therefore, get his reward. Navas continues getting used to a bench spot and we should have two striking options alongside him in Bony & Iheanacho (the latter returning to the squad having not been chosen by Manuel Pellegrini to be part of the Champions League squad list). Willy Caballero as keeper cover of course.
Notable absences: Gael Clichy (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured), Fabian Delph (injured) and Samir Nasri (injured). Wow…
Result? Just like any game, particularly in the Premier League, we cannot take our next opponents likely. Furthermore, West Ham sit just 4 places and 6 points behind us and have impressive, clean-sheet AWAY wins at Arsenal and Liverpool to their name; where they ‘banged in’ 5 goals.
Slaven Bilic is still finding his feet in his new job as the Hammers’ boss; with a little bit of inconsistent home form dotted around those notable away wins. But he comes across as a steely manager who can fire his team up for a game like this and whose squad has some dangerous players who can hit you on the break and cause damage if you switch off for a second.
Having said all of that – and despite not quite knowing how we’ll react to our first defeat of the season to Juventus in midweek – I think we’ll just have too much for the London side at home.
With no Vincent Kompany / a new centre back pairing, no direct cover on the bench at left & right back and with there being a collective & sharp intake of breath every time Sergio 'goes in' with an opponent for a ball; there might be a few jittery moments out there this evening. But, for me at least, any nerves will be calmed as the final whistle blows and we then look at the league table and marvel at 6 wins from 6.