Let’s start it with a win…
4-5-1 / 4-2-3-1:
‘Wembley ‘Willy’ in-between the sticks.
A largely French back-line-4 with some Argentine seasoning.
A solid ‘midfield 2’ with ‘the Ferns’; Fernandinho slightly more advanced I’m sure. Ahead of those two is likely to be the returning [from injury] Samir on the left, David in a position where he usually does far more damage in the middle and on the right the pacey Jesus.
Sergio the lone striker…but likely to have decent support from 3 or 4 of those midfielders / wingers.
A very rare bench spot for Richard, covering as keeper; Aleks & Pablo provide the left & right-sided defensive cover and Martin the central defensive insurance. Returning from injury; Kevin should make the bench and likely to swap with Samir at some stage; Wilfried & Kelechi provide 2 striking options from the bench.
Notable absences: Joe Hart (injured), Vincent Kompany (injured), Fabian Delph (on his way back from injury / in training), Raheem Sterling (injured) and Yaya Toure (injured).
Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?
With the players available to him, I can’t really argue at all with that and, in fact, I’d probably ‘go with the same’…adding also, however, that if I wasn’t concerned about an aerial threat from set pieces from our hosts this afternoon then I’d probably choose Bacary over Eliaquim in the middle and put Zaba on the right.
Result? A little concerned about our potential ‘soft centre’ at the back [with no Joe & Vinny in particular] but when I look at that starting 11 and bench; then I wonder how we can NOT win this one. But, then again, I’ve looked at strong line-ups before and we’ve come unstuck in the league…NINE TIMES in fact!
Bournemouth are a very tidy outfit indeed; like to pass it around and can be damaging on the counter attack as well as from set pieces. All things considered – and for the time being – I’m sticking with my prediction for this game from my piece on 22nd March of a draw. I hope, in the right way of course, that I’m so-very, very wrong; as 3 points is very much ‘a must’.
Expected weather conditions during the game: 11C, bright, spring sunshine but with a brisk, South Easterly breeze blowing-in off the sea.
Apologies for the very big, 'new badge' heading, by the way; I will try to find a way of reducing it at some stage. (I also posted this article on the morning of 2nd April - I've no idea why it's showing as the 1st...)