…and another trip to Wembley.
Sorry folks but STILL-ongoing family illness issues means another late, pre-match blog-posting with delayed hyperlinks (at some stage - now added 12.03.2017).
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.
___________Outfield player with gloves on__________
A little bit of rotation following the slightly frustrating Stoke home draw and ahead of our Wednesday night clash with Monaco…
The ‘yellow peril’ back in & around the net somewhere.
As is often the case; take your pick at left-back. I think Aleks will get the nod for this one. Rested 3 days ago Pablo should start on the right defence. Similarly-rested John to start this afternoon…and to play alongside ‘our skip’ Vinny? I've got a feeling that it could happen.
I think Fabian might get a bit of F.A.Cup / first team action from the start today; David surely to join him in the middle to give us back some creative spark and after only seeing 37 minutes of action in the last 5 days. Nolito likely to get a crack on the left-wing and after not even being in the midweek squad, Raheem to resume on the right.
I…THINK we might see Pep use both his strikers from the start for this one in order to rest / protect key midfielders ahead of our trip to France; to give Kelechi some much-needed game time and to-then-also have the option of withdrawing Sergio early’ish ahead of our 2nd leg Champions League game if we're 'a couple up' at some stage in the second half.
Willy as back-up to ‘Footwork Freddie’ and the defensive cover comes in the form of Bacary & Nicholas. Fernandinho and young Aleix are the central midfield replacement options; the more attacking choices form the side likely to come from Leroy & Kevin.
Notable absences: Gael Clichy (not selected / rested), Fernando (not selected), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for rest of season), Jesus Navas (not selected), Yaya Toure (not selected / rested) & Gabriel Jesus (injured – possibly for the rest of the season).
Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?
With that fella skipping all around the place in front of goal; with Aleks on the left and with the possibility of fragile Vinny making yet another comeback…I can’t deny that line-up concerns me a little at the back. That’ll need some protection from Fabian me-thinks. Other than that - and attacking-wise - I’m fine with that 'possible 11'.
Result? These just do not know how to score…but probably will do if they exploit the frailties I’ve just mentioned. 19 goals in 27 league games tells a pitiful story.
However, they have the joint-4th best defensive record in the Premier League and the amount of 0-0s, 0-1s and other scorelines (often defeats) with just one goal in ‘em is unbelievable...and tells another story! Basically, stick one in their net and you’re quite likely to come away with a win.
I can see us conceding one though but with Raheem & David back along with two strikers (if I’m correct of course); I think we can squeeze past and organised Boro side to make it to London for the semis. It’s a tight, City win for me.
Expected weather conditions during the game: Murky (isn’t it always there?) but mild at 11C for late winter. Chance of a shower / some light drizzle.