Saturday, 16 April 2016

'Post Europe' team-reaction and options

Despite missing 3 players ANY Premier League team would like to have ‘in there’, it’s good to-now-finally see that we have plenty of options-in-depth available. Great news!


The only tiny alarm bell in the back of my head going into this clash – another one where points are vital for us to finish in the top 3 or 4 - is how we’ll react following our fantastic progression in the Champions League last Tuesday night.

Grounded & focused

Well there’s two words you can definitely attribute to our manager and, so, let’s hope he passes those vibes onto the players. It may not have been a classic game / performance from both sides in midweek but I thought we, at least, did a very professional job indeed; knowing how the game lay after the first leg in Paris.

Particularly the defence last Tuesday night and, in general, I’m taking heart also from much-improved performances in the last few weeks. We look like us again…

v Chelsea

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.



__Nasri____________________________De Bruyne___




Back 5, Joe included, I’m going for Manuel Pellegrini to stick with a unit that’s starting to look calmer and more organised. They’ll have-had 3-½ day’s rest and, so, why not? Expect changes in this department for the Newcastle United game just over 72 hours later…

A very slight change slightly further up the pitch, I think, with the fresher, slightly-more-mobile & defensive Fabian in-alongside Fernando to form a solid defensive shield away at what is - despite their disastrous season and lowly league position – still a tough place to go / team to play.

Defensive units sorted; licence, then, for Samir, Yaya, Kevin and, ahead of those 3, Sergio to cause havoc to Chelsea’s defence.

With injuries as few as they are it’s a strong bench too. Willy the keeper insurance; Aleks, Pablo & Martin the defensive replacement options. Possibly to be given some respite - and useful to have if we need to apply a little more pressure - is Fernandinho (I could well be wrong with this one as he’s been playing so very well of late) and Jesus if we have the ‘need for speed’ (again, though, I might be wrong and we might see Kevin in the middle of ‘a 3’ and Jesus starting instead of Yaya). Iheanacho, surely, to be the ‘striker of choice’ on the side if there’s only room for one.

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (still recovering from injury – likely to be ‘ready to start’ on Tuesday night), David Silva (resting / protecting that niggly ankle of his for this one), Raheem Sterling (same as Vinny and might make the bench at least against the Magpies) and Wilfried Bony (not selected).

Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?

Yep…I’d go with that. If I do get it wrong about Fernandinho / Yaya / Jesus, I’d even go with those possibilities – we’re that strong for options at the moment.

Result? In my recent, mini-8-game season piece I had this one down as a draw. That wouldn’t be a bad result at all. I was swaying, however, since Wednesday / Thursday and leaning towards this one being a very good and very vital away win.

However, I’ve ground myself a little and also, crucially, remembered that this is Manchester City we’re talking about; a Manchester City side who have, this season, blown the dust off and started to re-use the old, ‘How to be unpredictable’ handbook.

‘All things considered’ and those being…

-       A Chelsea side who might be stinging a little from their first league defeat under Guus Hiddink last weekend away to Swansea City but balanced also against…

-       …a Chelsea squad who may well be full of players who are simply ‘going through the motions’ of the rest of the season; yearning for ‘the beech’ and / or keeping themselves free from injury for the up & coming Euros

-       A City team who might be feeling a few bumps & bruises and general fatigue from an intense & important game against PSG (particularly ‘battered from pillar to post’ Sergio Aguero) and…

-       …having to get the balance right with another game coming up very quickly away at Newcastle; a team who might be like a dying lion striking out in its last few days

…then I’m sticking with my mini-season prediction of a draw.

I hope, in the right way of course, that I’m very wrong and that we can come away from Stamford Bridge with ‘all 3’ - and I can't also wait to see if the lads will be buoyed by last Tuesday's history-making night or will still have their heads in the clouds after it.

But if it is indeed to be ‘points shared’ this evening (5:30pm KO BST) then 3-points in the North East on Tuesday is an absolute must!

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