Saturday, 9 September 2017

Team Spirit with a twist of melon

As I included in my recent, season prediction piece; one of the things that impresses me about this current team / squad of ours is the sheer determination and team spirit shown already this season - I’d even go as far as to say, in fact, that this attitude has already gone a long way in gaining us a few points! 


But in our last outing at AFC Bournemouth, Pep really did mess with my head! I mean…it’s quite difficult guessing the Spaniard’s team selection at the best of times but now that he’s tinkering with a new, 5-3-2-type formation it’s even worse!

Twisting my melon…

So, while Benjamin Mendy was recovering from a thigh injury as the season got under way, Guardiola decided, regardless, to go with his pre-season-practiced 3-5-2 (3-5-1-1) formation and pitch Danilo in the left wing-back role. Anyone who witnessed our new signing in action in pre-season might recall that he looked very good indeed in the RIGHT wing-back position but was not only far less effective going forward on the left but practically stopped any attacking momentum on that flank.

Whenever the Brazilian was withdrawn, on came the attacking talent of Leroy Sane…a clearly skilful and threatening winger asked to perform a 50/50 defensive/attacking role on the left-hand-side. Once again, anyone who saw the young German international in action against West Ham in pre-season will tell you that it didn’t work then…and it hasn’t worked since.

Now I have questioned - both with friends & fellow Blues as well as on this Blog - the use of the 3-5-2 (3-5-1-1) system; not because I don’t like it but rather, in our case, I think it just leaves far too many talented, attacking / creative players out of the starting 11; as they sit there wasted on the bench (and by wasted I DON’T mean drunk...).

But as news filtered through before our game against The Cherries that our new, flying left wing-back, Benjamin Mendy, was fully recovered, ready to go and may even START in the early KO game; I was rubbing my hands in anticipation of seeing him in the 3-5-2 (3-5-1-1) formation (with Danilo in his more favoured right-hand-sided role with Kyle Walker suspended).

So…what does Pep do? Well he STARTS Mendy on the left and Danilo on the right…but drops a central defender (John Stones) and goes 4-4-1-1; meaning that it largely shackles both our new signings to more defensive duties; limiting the times they can overlap their more-advanced wing-colleagues. Result? We looked all OVER the place at times at the back; panicking on occasions in our 3rd game of the season like we were for large parts of last season.

What was he doing / thinking? I just don’t get it – Mendy all ‘ready to go’ and then our manager switches systems and it almost blows up in our face!

Anyway, as you now know, things worked out for us in the end…the VERY end! 97th minute, in fact, when Raheem Sterling got his second of the season and pulled a winner out of what was heading for a draw (although our hosts also had a couple of good opportunities to grab ‘all 3’ late on too before we got our second).

I struggle to work the fella out at times, I really do. That’s fine, of course...just as long as it’s the opposition manager who get confused and not our own players.

But, as I say, as long as our lads also have that drive & determination that we’ve seen so far this season to ‘fight to the end’ and for every ball; then that’s often half the battle won.

More of that tomorrow against Liverpool please…

v Liverpool

Etihad Stadium

Predicted line-up, subs and outcome
(Number correct from starting line-up in the last game: 9/11).

4-4-1-1 / 4-5-1:



Sane_______D. Silva_________De Bruyne____B. Silva



Sorry, no time to comment on today’s predicted squad of 18…

Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (Injured) & Raheem Sterling (suspended for this game).

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

Yeah…if the back-line can stay disciplined against a good attacking force this afternoon then there should be no need to go with a defensive midfielder to help / protect the [predicted] back-4; allowing us to field that very attacking, creative 4 or 5 behind Sergio...although that comes with considerable risk.

Result? All week I just can’t see past a score draw, with both teams getting at least 2.

Last season’s, corresponding pre-match prediction and result…
Prediction: Draw
Result: Draw

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