· 1 time winner in this competition for Manuel Pellegrini
· 2-legged, semi-final game about to commence
· 3 days before we then embark on another cup competition in the form of the F.A. Cup; again away at a Premier League side and just…
· …4 days after our last outing in the Premier League away from home
· 7 days - and in that time [by this coming Saturday] we’ll have played 3 games in 3 different competitions and, as I’ve already alluded to, all away to Premier League sides.
· 22 days – and in that time [to 27th January] we’ll have played Everton 3 times
· 180 minutes (plus any added time) away from a trip to Wembley
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
Being, as I’ve more than highlighted in my sub-heading, so many games crammed into 7 days and, if you’ll excuse me highlighting further, all before another crucial game against Everton at home in the Premier League just 4 days after that hectic week; it’s gonna be a bit of a balancing act for Manuel Pellegrini personnel wise to say the very least.
And so straight to those predicted changes and ahead of Joe in net I can see changes to both flanking defenders; with Gael & Pablo joining Eliaquim & Nicholas.
And although I would hope that would solidify the defence a little more (taking nothing away from Bacary at least) – and although it’s not our manager’s style to ‘go defensive’ whatsoever – our ‘Engineer’s’ hand may be forced and I’ve got a feeling we may see recovered / rested Fabian & Fernando ‘sitting in there’ in a midfield sure to be kept busy at Goodison Park. So…solid base establishing I think we’ll see an attacking trio of ‘go again’ Raheem & David joined by largely rested Jesus in tonight’s League Cup encounter.
Up front could have been different if injuries hadn’t interfered once more – I had an incline that Sergio might have been rested slightly and brought on in the second half but…nope; it’s Sergio from the start I very much think now.
Willy on the bench in case we lose Joe; Aleks & Bacary step aside for this one I think. Martin the central defence insurance and then an attacking / creative trio of Yaya, Kevin and Kelechi, who I hope gets some minutes on the pitch to continue to show us and his manager what he has in his locker.
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured), Fernandinho (not selected / rested for weekend), Samir Nasri (injured) and Wilfried Bony (injured / slight knock – should be okay for Saturday).
Result? As was my guesswork about the personnel for this game, which could be way off; it’s so hard to predict this one. Traditionally this isn’t a good hunting ground for us in general, that’s despite some important victories there in recent seasons.
But if our manager does go with this or similar line-up, then in my opinion we have a very solid base against a side who can ‘stick ‘em in’ on a fairly regular basis and, then, we’ll have a springboard to hurt a side who can also leak goals-a-plenty. With the pace of Sterling & Navas, the craft of Silva, the goal-threat of Aguero and with the added overlapping capabilities down the right of Zabaleta; I think we can take these.
I was leaning towards a creditable draw at one stage but I’m nudging myself towards an away win now; buoyed by a great finish at Vicarage Road last Saturday evening AND as long as we go at ‘em early rather than needing a slap around the face before we jump into action…