Friday, 20 November 2015

I’m gonna ‘slice it up’ a bit…

(This piece also includes a pre-match build-up for the Liverpool game towards the end of the article)

For some unknown reason (other than a love of my football team of course) on Wednesday 11th November 2015 I found myself staring at a bunch of up & coming, Manchester City league fixtures. Perhaps in the early stages of yet ANOTHER, flippin’ international (friendly) break I was already longing for ‘proper football’.

My eyes fixed on a specific chunk of games that contained eight fixtures; noticed that it was a real ‘mixed bag’ of potentially “tough”, “slightly tricky” and “not-quite-so” clashes…and without really thinking about it I’d begun to analyse.

An 8-game mini season then…

Having already done a ‘set in stone’, summer transfer window-close, W, D, L prediction, something that can-easily and HAS-indeed changed as the ‘general picture’ and fortunes of teams change with the passing of time and, which, makes sense for me to-then do a pre-match prediction too, which might differ with the original ‘best guess’; I decided on the 11th to stick my neck out and try to predict using the same W, D, L format; specifically for - and in advance of - ‘the 8’.

More to the point, I wanted to stress what we should be aiming for as a ‘minimum points target’ over a period of potential ‘banana skins’…and ahead of the next two games beyond ‘the 8’, which are two, back-to-back home games against Everton & Crystal Palace in January 2016.

Liverpool (H)

Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League record heading into this one reads: P4, W1, D2, L1. F5, A4. Never has a picture been painted so clearly that represents where The Reds’ new manager ‘is at’ at the moment – he’s clearly assessing his new team and attempting to mould them into his own style, which if you listen to him and people who know him is a very much ‘possession & attacking’ style. Chuck in a League Cup win and a draw & win in the Europa Cup and it’s not a bad start at all from the flamboyant, German eccentric.

First ‘banana skin’ for me is this one.

Both teams with a possession & attacking ethos; both having-just-had players return from international duty. Key players (possibly) just-returning from injury on both sides too.

A record of us-only conceding 9 goals in the league all season against them-having conceded 4 in the last 4 games alone MIGHT suggest that this is where we’ll ‘edge it’…added also to the fact that we’re the home side. So why can’t I get a draw out of my head?

There’ll be goals at both ends, I’m quite sure of it, but this one is-indeed a draw for me.

Points tally: 1 from 3 (which’ll mean two, back-to-back draws…)

Not perhaps appearing to be the force they were last season having lost some quality players to rival Premier League sides…but most certainly ‘not far off’ and, worryingly, they’re in some good form as I write this; with a ‘last 6’ that reads: W, W, D, D, W, W.  F12, A5.

Ominously we have an away trip to Juventus that finishes just around 65 hours before the Southampton KO time; a game [in Italy] I’m sure we’ll ‘go for’ in order to attempt to finish our Champions League group in ‘top spot’.

Now this one DOES scream draw! Perhaps it’ll even be a game where we eventually breathe a sigh of relief and be happy to share the points too. But I’m going all ‘reverse’ on you…

If David Silva & Sergio Aguero come out of both the Liverpool & Juventus clashes injury free – and we don’t sustain any or many other injuries in that time – then by the time their potentially 3rd fixture back from injury comes up; I’m betting on them both ‘firing’ and ‘firing up’ a City side in need of a timely ‘rocket boost’.

It’ll be another tough home game - one where we might even ‘wobble’ at the beginning following a tight fixture schedule - but this is a tight and very entertaining home win for me.

Points tally: 4 from 6

Oooooo…not a great ground / fixture for us, is it? It’s an early KO too (12:45pm GMT); a televised one where, I’m sure, it was selected for its ‘upset factor’

We have a mid-week game before this one too but, thankfully, it’s a Tuesday [and not a Wednesday] and is a home game against Championship side Hull City in the League Cup.

Mark Hughes’ side started the season really quite poorly, hit a bit of form and stabilised but have since hit an inconsistent run of very mixed results. In short…it’s hard to call this one.

But I say again; stay relatively injury free ahead of this fixture and I think we’ll take all 3 points to disappointment the TV schedulers.

Points tally: 7 from 9

Definitely NOT the force they were last season. What has happened to them?! A checkered, Premier League run of results that’s all over the place at the moment!

We do have a mid-week, home Champions League game against Borussia Monchengladbach the previous Tuesday…but it’s not one I can see Manuel Pellegrini telling his players to ‘go all out for’ by this stage.

Garry Monk will have his side organised when they come to the Etihad that’s for sure; they won’t be a pushover…but they will be pushed over eventually in this one.

Points tally: 10 from 12 (and doing just fine so far)

Arsenal (A)

Brief one this – like the Liverpool clash I just can’t see past ‘the draw’. A draw at the Emirates? Gotta be happy with that…

Points tally: 11 from 15

Boxing Day at home.

They’ll huff, they’ll puff…and they’ll probably & occasionally have ol’fat head bouncing around full of turkey & stuffin’ in their technical area (watch out lino!) waving his arms about. But it’ll be all to no avail – a “Happy Christmas” home win this one.

Points tally: 14 from 18

Although by the time the last fixture of 2015 comes around on 29th December The Foxes’ fortunes might have changed; you can’t help but be impressed with Leicester City this season.

Okay, they concede almost as many as they score

But not only do they have dangerous players who can hurt you badly (they’ve scored just one less than us in the league as I type / release this) but they also have a drive, energy and tremendous ‘team spirit’ that allows them to do so right up to the full 90+ minutes.

They ‘fight to the end’; we do to of course…and so this one is a draw for me.

Points tally: 15 from 21 (not bad at all…but it might have a few Blues feeling a little frustrated)

Watford (A)

At the beginning of the season I had these down as easy survivors following their promotion – managing, I thought (and still do), a very creditable mid-table finish. And, on that front, they’re not disappointing.

As I type this they sit slap-BANG in the middle in 11th and have only conceded 5 more goals than us. They’re a solid, really organised bunch and a side I was impressed with when they visited the Etihad. Two, quick ‘bang-bang’ goals just after the (0-0) break on 47 and then 55 minutes killed ‘em off…but both before and after Sterling & Fernandinho’s strikes they did themselves proud in many ways.

So…a draw then? No, I’m going for similar to our last encounter with The Hornets and a narrow, hard-fought victory for City.

Total points tally: 18 from 24

So that’s it, for me; in order to maintain our push for the title and to help ‘ward off’ the likes of Arsenal & Manyoo “challengers”, I think we need to be aiming for a points tally of 18 form the next 24. A minimum target…and an achievable one, I think.

Of course not all of the results will ‘pan out’ that way – although if they do and I don’t go to the bookies, which I generally don’t do, then I’ll be slightly miffed to say the least – and I’m sure some of the predicted draws might work out as either victories or defeats. But I think ‘18 from 24’ points will be about right from 4 home and 4 away league games.

And, so-then, going into two, back-to-back home league games after the 3rd round of the F.A. Cup; I think that’ll keep us ‘up there’…quite-possibly still top and also gives us a nice springboard going into the new year.

This weekend’s game v Liverpool


Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…

4-1-4-1 come 4-5-1 come 4-2-3-1:


___Sterling_______________________De Bruyne___





Team selection-wise it is a hard one for me to call this one…and it’s for several reasons.

Joe is a starter of course – that’s the easy one out of the way.

The back-line too almost picks itself, in that Nicholas & Eliaquim is likely to be the starting, central-defensive pairing selected by our Chilean manager...the flanking defenders do, however, throw up a couple of questions.

Bacary has performed excellently in Pablo’s injury-filled season so far but he might now be in need for a little rest, especially having taken part in a very emotional, international friendly at Wembley on Tuesday night. However, Pablo has only just recovered from his latest setback and so might not be fully-ready for a start...especially a start in the heat of a Manchester / Merseyside derby. All things considered, I’ve gone for the Frenchman to ‘get the nod’ again. Similarly on the other flank; Gael has been ‘chomping at the bit’ for at least a fortnight now following his recovery from a season-long injury. Aleks, meanwhile, has been ever-present and so, my thinking here is, the Serbian will get his well-earned rest. And, so, it should be ‘French-defending flanks’ to face Jurgen’s men.

From this point onwards I'm going to have to cut short my team-selection analysis due to ongoing family, health-realated issues and, specifically, a mini-crisis that has reared its head again today.

Needless to say, announcements made regarding injuries / not-quite-recovered personnel that I've managed to pick up on in the last 30 minutes almost dictates, also, probable starting places in midfield and up front. Those being...

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured), Fabian Delph (injured) (correction, Fabian Delph not injured / is in squad), Samir Nasri (injured), David Silva (not quite recovered from injury / fitness issues) and Wilfried Bony Injured.

Result? Already mentioned - a score draw.

Some of the information might not be quite accurate / up-to-date and I haven't had chance to properly 'go over' this posting [before release] due to the afore mentioned personal issues. Some hyperlinks may also be missing. Apologies...

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