In many ways there could hardly be a more appropriate visitor than Manchester City for the first Moneybags League fixture in the new stadium. The TV and prize money available from this competition is what sustains the so-called biggest clubs in Europe.
The fêting and rewards given to the more successful sides is enough to finance continued progress and ambition and is a just prize for achievements hard-earned – or you could just sell your heart and soul to a middle eastern country with questionable morals and ethics and put your fingers in your ears whenever the topic is brought up in polite conversation.
A chart showing our form and results in this season’s Champions League would show a fairly relentless upward curve. The late concessions at the San Siro, the Messi master class, Hugo’s faux pas in Eindhoven all seem long ago, the trouncing of Borussia Dortmund is though a fresh and invigorating memory.
There was a headline after City’s narrow victory over Brighton at the weekend suggesting that the neutral needs to see Pep’s boys playing badly if they’re going to be treated to a spectacle at all, such is their dominance of all they survey and in truth it’s probably what we need as well if we’re going to leave ourselves with a chance of still making the semi-finals when we head to the Etihad next Wednesday.
Our visitors arrive having won 21 of their last 23 games. Yikes.
Arguably it’s been struggling sides who have given them the most to think about during that time with Swansea, Brighton and Nabil Bentaleb’s Schalke (in Germany anyway) coming closest to ruffling their feathers. Indeed, their league losses this season, to Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Leicester and Chelsea have all, perhaps apart from the latter, come to clubs challenging for nothing other than the opportunity to do it all again next season.
Our form has been rubbish, we are well aware. Our limitations in midfield and at full-back in particular have been exposed. On top of that we have had strikers whose aim isn’t quite as true as Elvis Costello’s and a keeper with more question marks against him than Bamber Gascoigne. Mistakes at the back in particular were one of the first things Pochettino eliminated from our game when he arrived, they’re back though, with a vengeance.
To defeat City, we will need –
- Them to have an off-day
- Harry, Son, Dele and Eriksen to take every opportunity that comes their way
- The whole of our defence and midfield to have a mistake free 90 minutes
And then we have to do it all again next week.
Having said that, we’ve beaten the money-doped City before, we’ve beaten the Pep-doped City before. And we can do it again.
There’ll be no shortage of support in our magnificent new stadium. Our big players need to stand up and prove themselves worthy of the stage. If they prove strong in heart, technique and have we our fair share of luck then who knows?
The officials are from the Netherlands.
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