Morning, match day friends.
These are the type of games that often show a glimpse into a team’s title credentials. Whilst no single game over the course of a season can determine whether a team has what it takes to traverse the road to glory, there are certainly moments in which a marker or the clichéd “statement of intent” can be laid down for all to see.
On the back of a disappointing defeat away at Everton, we face the prospect of more pressure being put on the players to come away with a good result. Chelsea are rapidly moving away from the pack having turned into a unstoppable juggernaut of victory since the spanking we gave them at the Emirates. As it stands, the sit atop the league 9 points away from their closest rivals. They’ll be hoping for a draw, The reality is both ourselves and City need to get all 3 points. Defeat by no means removes either side from a title challenge, but could very well see them placed on the periphery for the time being.
Games like this are difficult to judge. Given the attacking potential both teams posses, coupled with a propensity for the odd defensive blunders, the score could quite easily be 6-6. On the other hand, nerves might get the better of either side, caution enters the minds and we witness a lolopping, listless 0-0 stalemate. I find the big games difficult to predict mainly because I veer so wildly from pessimism to optimism. One moment I’ll be deliriously envisaging Alexis skipping gleefully through the heart of City’s backline to thump home a glorious winner, the next I’m all doom and gloom, absolutely certain I’m going to witness a hideous catastrophe. These are interchangeable from one minute to the next until kick-off where I can finally settle down
I’ll be watching tomorrow’s fun and frivolity with Daniel Cowan, he of the Goonersphere fame. My home will be a cauldron of nerves and potty-mouthed language for 90 minutes. And that’ll just be the girls forced to watch with us.
The team news is as expected. Discounting the lengthy absentees, only Ramsey and Mustafi miss out with hamstring issues. I imagine we’ll see a very similar team to the one that started at Everton, the only change may be Alex Iwobi coming into to replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Gabriel is set to remain Koscielny’s partner at the centre of defence.
I believe Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin hold to key to our success. City have an abundance of talent in attack. Our defence with not only need to be protected from the twinkle-toed bastards in blue, but once possession has turned over, we’ll need to be quick to use it to our advantage. Coquelin lacks the speed of thought Cazorla has when in possession, but I’ve high hopes Xhaka is going to prove perfect centrally in time. He’s got the guile to match his combative nature.
Our record against Manchester’s sky blues in recent season is pretty good – I think we’re unbeaten in 7 encounters if memory serves me correctly (If I recall reading the stat I saw this morning somewhere correctly). The omens are usually good when we’ve suffered a poor defeat as the players galvanise of stand up for each other. Not only will they need to ensure they do that, but our attackers will need to take the chances they get, because City will give us at least a couple of good ones. Without Augero they won’t be as formidable in attack, so this is a good opportunity for us. I’m going to suggest a splendid 2-0 away win is on the cards.
That’s what I think, what about you? Hit me with your thoughts in the comments. I’ll be back soon to discuss the game. Until that time, and as always: thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.