“Brilliant” and “mesmeric” were two of the adjectives used to describe Man City’s performance during the first half of last Saturday’s game against Man United. Since the whistle blew for the end of that first forty-five minutes at the Etihad, it’s safe to say that things haven’t gone well.
The Bank of Abu Dhabi Works XI have suffered two rather solid blows to the solar plexus in the last week, a 3-2 loss in that game in which they were so dominant and another home defeat on Tuesday when they exited from the Moneybags League.
The loss last weekend of course means that they don’t come to us as champions and thus Kyle Walker does not get his guard of honour. Two things. Firstly, what is it with this guard of honour nonsense? I’m not sure when this became a tradition but it’d be nice if it stopped as quickly as it began. And secondly, a 7.45 kick-off on a Saturday night? Wtf? I know it’s the future and thus not worth railing against but it’s not a future we should be looking forward to. If you’re playing on a Saturday, 3pm is the time for football.
From all the media bluster you might get the impression that the wheels have well and truly come off what remains of the Man City bus after its visit to Scouseland and revenge for December’s loss, and one of the biggest defeat of Poch’s reign, is there for the taking. The opposite is true of course. Guardiola and his team will feel they have something to prove and there’s no doubt they have the talent to do so. De Bruyne, the Silvas, Aguero, Jesus, that’s five players already that we would consider squeezing into our eleven before you even think about Ederson, Sterling, Walker or Fernandinho.
Here’s a strange fact. Should we manage to come out on top on Saturday night, we will have lost fewer games this season than Citeh, one of all-time best teams of all-time. They’ve won a lot more than us of course but we’ll ignore that for now.
Pochettino has pretty much a full squad to pick from. Those teams that have recently been successfully against Man City have done so by getting under their skin, bypassing their midfield and putting pressure on their back line as such we should probably expect a line-up designed to go hard for the first twenty minutes or so with a view to getting in front and staying there. It’ll be interesting to see whether he thinks Son is a good bet against Walker from the off or if he keeps him back and plays Lamela instead. Dele and Eriksen will have their work cut out helping out Dembele and Wanyama/Dier whilst the back four will have to be at their best to avoid getting trapped in possession by any rampaging Citizens.
The outcome will decide little, though it may put a marker down for us for next season, but it should be a fascinating game nonetheless.
Jon Moss, he of the Anfield penalties, is the referee.
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