Not a ‘must win’, following Manyoo’s defeat to West Ham United on Tuesday night, but certainly a ‘mustn’t lose’. A draw, therefore & obviously, will do unless Manyoo beat Bournemouth 418-0…
Straight to it then…v Swansea City
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.
4-1-4-1 / 4-5-1:
Joe the last line of defence.
With the availability – or rather unavailability of some defenders – the back-line pretty much picks itself. Therefore, Gael, Eliaquim, Nicholas & Bacary defend Joe’s goal and that’s probably about the best we have at our disposal.
I think Fernando will be given a lone role on Sunday of protecting that back-4 / linking up with the more-attacking midfielders and I THINK that will be a bank-of-4 for this one; with Samir, Kevin (in a more central position where he’s FAR more dangerous), Fernandinho and Pellegrini’s favourite, Jesus.
HOWEVER…there appears to be ‘some mystery' surrounding / 'suggestions of' a fall-out with Mr Le Sulk, Samir. The “official stance” is that he was ill for 2 days prior to the Arsenal game but has now been training ahead of this one.
He may not make the starting 11…he may not even make the bench! But, going off the official position of the club; if fit / available and there ISN’T anything sinister about the situation with our French attacking midfielder; then I’m sure Manuel would like to have him in the starting 11 for purely ‘footballing reasons’.
Those 4 likely to be supporting a lone striker in Sergio.
Willy in net and, if I’m correct, just one defensive change-option on the bench and in the form of Martin (although should it become necessary I’m sure Fernando and Fernandinho could slot-in at the back). Strong midfield and attacking replacement options then in the form of central midfielder Fabian, attacking midfielder Yaya, Left-sided forward Raheem and two strikers in Kelechi & Wilfried.
Notable absences: Aleks Kolarov (doubtful / late fitness check), Vincent Kompany (injured), Pablo Zabaleta (injured) and David Silva (injured).
Do I agree with Pellegrini’s (predicted) line-up?
Yes, I think that selection that can defend against any Swansea threat as well as having a lot of potential to do damage; particularly with a possible Nasri / De Bruyne ‘combo’ as well as threats from Fernandinho (given a more attacking role I think) and Aguero of course.
He should be going with something like this with it being a ‘do not lose’ game and I pray that he doesn’t go more 4-4-2’ish…
Result? In my 8-game, mini-season piece I had this one down as an away win; we only need a draw now and, so, no! I’m not gonna even suggest the unthinkable!
Form – does 2, impressive, back-to-back Swansea wins (3-1 at home to Liverpool and a 1-4 win at West Ham) constitute good form?
Expanding that a little, does 3 wins, 2 defeats and 1 draw from the last-6 say likewise?
Expanding it even further to a ‘last 10’, does W W L W D W L L W W look good? Well I don’t think it’s that bad at all, I’m sorry to say.
Some good news for us, though, came through the other day in that Swansea City - and in one case the Welsh national team - have a mixture of short and long-terms injuries AND, according to their manager, he will, additionally, rest one or two in preparation for-them playing in the Euro finals this summer. I don’t know the quality in depth of their squad nor their reserves but that has to be a plus-point for us.
And although it’ll be a noisy, end-of-season party mood I’m sure, at the Liberty Stadium; I think that reduction in available personnel along with the fact that we need this one so very badly should be enough to push us over the line.
The old City fan in me says that we’ll run this one scarily close – FAR too close for comfort and will just about scrape a draw. That would be enough, of course, and as I’m typing these words the thought of just how much some of our players will be ‘up for the fight’ has crossed my mind.
I’m going to draw on them having the character we all hope they have and having also had a good-week’s-rest; for me this is a fairly comfortable and very much needed (to settle the nerves and grab 4th spot) away win.
Expected weather conditions during the game: With a bit of a nagging Westerly breeze and in temperatures of just 55F otherwise; ‘just a t-shirt’ might be a little uncomfortable in the shade. Otherwise, a fairly pleasant afternoon with sunny intervals. Update (14.05.2016): At a now-forecasted 57F (nudging gloser to the 60s, it's now also predicted to be a little sunnier in South Wales too. Perhaps 'just t-shirts' in the stands might be okay afterall...
Before I go…
…HAPPY BIRTHDAY YAYA!