I actually see this one as less of ‘a derby’, in a way, and more the start of our scrap for a 2nd or 3rd-place finish; 4th as an absolute minimum, of course, and with a chance also to put a nail into Manyoo’s almost completed coffin for the 2015 / 2016 season.
The fact that the next game is against ‘them’ simply adds a little more spice to the new target / run-in of ours…
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome…
4-1-4-1 come 4-5-1:
Hart, of course.
What a very different back-line forced on us for this clash! Clichy, who continues to perform very well indeed, to keep his place at left-back and on the opposite side, Pablo once again. Forced on us, however, is likely to be the unlikely pairing of Eliaquim & Bacary. And so we move onto the midfield…
Fernando the ‘key player’ and almost 5th defender for this one; protecting that back 4 like crazy! Fernandinho similarly but with some licence to help further forward. Yaya to float around, sometimes menacingly. Raheem and Silva likely to be the wide and creative men; Sergio the lone front man.
In addition to Willy, Aleks and Martin, injuries are likely to see the addition of Tosin from the EDS as extra defensive cover. Jesus, Wilfried and Kelechi make up the attacking options from the bench.
- Vincent Kompany (injured)
- Nicholas Otamendi (some doubt over recovery from injury, as of the statement issued on 18th March)
- Kevin De Bruyne (on way back from injury - in light training / possibly about to take part in a comeback, friendly match behind closed doors)
- Fabian Delph (on way back from injury - in light training / possibly about to take part in a comeback, friendly match behind closed doors)
- Samir Nasri (on way back from injury – taking part in in normal training activities / likely to take part in a comeback, friendly match behind closed doors)
Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?
It’s about all he can do really and, so, yeah I suppose.
My prediction does also come with a rider in that after publication, Nicholas Otamendi will have been reassessed again and might, then, be deemed fit to start, which will change the line-up picture considerably at the back.
In addition - and on this occasion in ‘this little section’ - I’m gonna throw down and alternative & suggested starting 11; one that Pellegrini is VERY unlikely to go with, one that’s a little bit unorthodox especially in ‘todays game’…but one I might consider for this one - with Vinny and possibly Nicholas missing - if I were Manager.
Subs: Caballero, Kolarov, Adarabioyo, Navas, Sterling, Bony, Iheanacho.
As suspect as Eliaquim is and as slow as Martin can be; with Clichy & Zabaleta also doing a ¾-defending role in wing-back positions AND with Fernando as the “6th defender”; is any Manyoo player gonna get through that lot? I doubt it, not very often anyway…and if they do then they’ve still got Joe to contend with.
What?! So defensive?! At home?! In a derby?! Are you mad?!
Well not really – with Clichy & Zabaleta ‘overlapping’ and going forward at times and with a fine quartet of players who, should-then, be in ‘full attack mode’ in the knowledge that all should be taken care of behind them; David, Yaya & Fernandinho behind Sergio not-only provides a compact midfield to counter their likely ‘packed centre’ but is-also a seriously potent threat to their goal.
As I say, never gonna happen under Pellegrini but I just thought I’d indulge myself on this occasion and ‘share’ that one with you.
Result? With Vinny out and Nicholas possibly out too I’d usually be quite concerned about this one; a game, as I’ve said, less about local’ish pride and more about securing one of those vital slots come the end of the season.
But with Manyoo having to-have scrapped like crazy in something called the “Europa League” against a certain Liverpool as late as Thursday night; then we could be facing a team of tired legs and low morale [following their 2-legged defeat and exit from another competition].
I think that’ll be a ‘big teller’ and as long as we add - to our morale-boosting progression through to the quarter finals of the Champions League and 48-hour extra recovering time - a sense of urgency & organisation against Hippo Head’s men, then this should be a reasonably comfortable victory in the end. That’s what I’m going for.
Expected weather conditions during the game: Starting off overcast but likely to brighten up soon into the game. A high of 9C / 48F with a light, North-Westerly breeze that shouldn't lower the 'temperaure feel'.