Ten points clear of fifth with 17 games to go. Three losses all season and only one defeat in 19 games. We are most definitely on course for our main target, a place in next season’s Moneybags League. As everyone knows by now though, we’re just about to enter a run of games that would have an Italian sea captain rowing ashore and hailing a cab were he in charge of guiding us through them. Should we still be anywhere near our current lofty status in the second week of March then we will have done remarkably well in the intervening period. The first of these fixtures is arguably the most difficult; interrupting our Sunday lunch this weekend are Man City.
Our trips to the City of Manchester stadium have rarely not been successful ones. Freddie Kanoute, Darren Bent, Tom Huddlestone, Calum Davenport and most famously Peter Crouch have all been on target as we’ve clocked up five wins in our last seven league visits. Most of these were pre Middle East intervention of course. “Manchester Thanks You, Sheikh Mansour” reads the sycophantic sign up and to the right of the away supporters inside the ground “it was nothing” he might reply, except that it’s actually been over 500 million quid and counting.
Citeh have won all their home league games thus far which gives a measure of our task. Tevez, the Toures and Kompany will be missing, a huge blow to a normal club, not this one though. Their resources are such that our one properly irreplaceable player is one that they could not find room for. The daft Premier League rules mean that Adebayor will be sitting this one out. It’ll be a surprise if Defoe doesn’t come in to replace him, it’ll also be a surprise if he provides a similar physical presence, the little man will do well to provide the link up play and ‘out balls’ that VdV and the midfield are used to. He might get offside just as often though – and perhaps crucially he’s more likely to take his chances.
Elsewhere there seem to be whispers that Ledley might be about to do one of his legendary Lazarus impressions. Much as you gotta love Dawson’s manful performances, his touch and distribution contribute to the fact that he is currently fourth choice centre half if everyone’s fit and comparing him and King, well it’s all a bit Economy and First Class.
As far as I’m aware there are no fresh injury worries thus it’ll be a surprise if Defoe and King aren’t the only changes to last Saturday’s side. Lennon and Parker should be closer to match fitness than they were last weekend which can only be a good thing.
Howard Webb will be on hand to add a bit of unpredictable mayhem to the 90 minutes.
Last season we were the better team in this fixture for the majority of the game but couldn’t force the ball home when we needed to. City have moved up a level since then but so have we. If we’re to get anything then scoring first may be vital. Even without Adebayor the firepower is there to do so. City play with little width meaning that whilst our full backs may be able to find space, our midfield is likely to be outnumbered. We’re going to need top notch performances from Modric and Parker at least if we’re going to gain and keep enough possession to cause any damage. It’ll be tough but we have the ability to come out on top. It could be fun. COYS.
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