Monday, 8 August 2016

The last dress rehearsal

So…that’s it then. Next game is the real deal - a Premier League game against Sunderland.


So what did we learn or, in some ways, NOT learn last night? Well one thing is that starting 11 and overall performance might have some blues chewing their nails with concern this morning.


With just one game to go, just what was that defence all about? Caballero starting in net and Fernando & Kolarov as centre backs?! On that…

1.    If Pep does have any doubts over Joe’s ability to pass the ball / play it out of defence sweeper-style, then why not give him the opportunity to do so / practice by playing him for the ‘full 90’ in our last pre-season game? What are we going to learn by giving Willy another 45 when, chances are, we’re going to be in the market for another keeper in the next 3 weeks; making the Argentine our ‘number 3’ choice.

2.    What did we learn that we most of us could have told Pep without it being tried; that Fernando is most likely not going to make a very good central defender and that, similarly, Kolarov DEFINITELY won’t. That’s a proper ‘head scratcher’ is that…

Thankfully Zaba & Clichy were in their usual positions and did okay. Pablo, it’s worth noting after an injury-plagued season, looks slender and fit.

Oh…is that my first ‘Pep moan’?


Fernandinho looked good and, when he bombed forward and helped out, Fernando looked far more comfortable ‘in the middle’ and put in some good tackles.

Fabian Delph was WELL up for it and, it could be said, needed to have a leash and muzzle attached at one stage! He may lack outright ‘skill’ but Guardiola will love his energy, desire and attitude.

David Silva looked in his element last night in Gothenburg. Aside from a couple of passing moves that didn’t quite work out his running on the ball and amazing talent for retaining the ball as the Arsenal players buzzed around him like angry wasps was a joy to see.


Sadly, I thought our wings went ‘missing in action’ last night. Perhaps Sterling, playing in a less familiar role on the right, was the slightly more-involved of the two but both he & new-signing Nolito had their cloaking devices activated for large parts of their time on the pitch. That’s a shame because I really wanted to see our new Spanish, left-sided attacker [do something] last night.

However, I think he’ll have a good season for us and will be a regular under our new manager – I hope so…I’ve picked him to be in the starting team selection in fantasy football!

Up front?

Nothing we don’t already know – give the ammo to both Aguero & Iheanacho and they have the talent to find the net.

It does concern me that we don’t appear to be adding to that department though and I say that in the knowledge that we have a wealth of attacking & creative midfielders / wingers in the squad and the fact that we’ll have the option of using Gabriel Jesus from January onwards…although he will have just completed a full Brazilian season by then.

Speaking of “Jesus”…

Our Right-sided Spanish flyer, again, looks to have added an edge to his game. I say “again” because I noted in my two-previous reports, following both the Bayern and Dortmund encounters, that Navas looked to have improved his passing and looked even faster! Last night he provided a lovely, chipped cross for Kelechi’s goal near the end and had a fierce, LEFT-footed shot saved that was destined for the net.

Why did he not start?!


So we have a Keystone Cops scenario in the centre of our defence and Tosin Adarabioyo a player who has been impressing not only in the first team in pre-season against good opposition but for a while now in the EDS – sat on the bench. What happens when he comes on (excusing one wayward pass that eventually lead to an Arsenal goal)? He has another assured performance and I, for one, felt safer with him ‘in there’.

Should he really be going on loan?

I have seen enough of Oleksandr Zinchenko to be convinced that he’s going to be an excellent City player for years to come. And I’m now also thinking…just keep him! I say that because, rumours are, the plan was always to loan him out in his first season as a Blue...but I’m pleased to see that Pep seems to want to have an extended look at the 19-year old Ukrainian in pre-season and I, personally, think there’s a place at least on the bench during the up & coming season for the fair-haired attacking midfielder / winger.

Other stuff

I was impressed with Yaya’s contributions as a sub – very good passing, as is often the case, and a real threat sprinkled with some excellent skill whenever he got closed to - or in - Arsenal’s box last night.

It was confirmed last night that our 2nd strip looks AWFUL with yellow socks! Would have been a half-decent kit with black or maroon socks (with the opposite-colour hoops).

Left at home…

Standing outside a shop last night after the game, I bumped into a fellow Blue. Straight away we both asked each other just what that defence was all about and wondered where Mangala & Otamendi were.

It turns out that Eliaquim was left at home to train, as the plan was not to bring him on as a sub and, therefore Pep tells us, it was more beneficial for him to train at home. Wilfried Bony too…but I’ve not read anywhere yet as to ‘why no Nicholas’ last night.

So, the conversation continued outside the shop with some 'hopeful optimism' it has to be said, that we hoped the pair were being given some ‘specialist defensive training’ behind closed doors in order to turn them into a solid unit in time for the big KO next Saturday evening (5:30pm BST).

This morning, however, the local press at least is all full of ‘Bony & Mangala set to leave’ stories. Again…nothing on Otamendi.


That leads me neatly onto the never-ending saga that is the attempt to sign John Stones from Everton. Latest rumours are that Bony will be used as a cut-priced, £15M makeweight in the deal that might see us eventually have to cough up £35M as well!

With Leonardo Bonucci apparently stating last week that he’s not going to leave Juventus and with no 'smoke signals' otherwise about Pep having a ‘back-up list’ of central defensive targets; I must admit – especially after last night’s choices – that it’s getting just a tad worrying in that department of our squad with just a week to go before our ‘opener’ and just over 3 weeks of the transfer window remaining.

No left-back news either, which is very disappointing at least for me.

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