Crystal Palace v Manchester City
Saturday 12th September, 3pm KO
Referee: Mike Jones
Well what a time for an international break, its almost like they planned it in advance at a time when I wish we’d been playing twice a week to capitalise on our early momentum. In. actuality for me, four games, four wins, four clean sheets and the international break has made this a very hard preview to write especially when I confess I’ve not seen a single kick of the internationals, well, actually not true, I did see a vine of Sergio Aguero’s absolutely sublime dink over the goalkeeper for Argentina. Just what the lad needed. Lets see if I can keep this below 1,000 words.
I’ve always thought that the fixture Manchester City v Crystal Palace was one that always rolled off the tongue rather nicely.
My first memory of them was being promoted as Division one champions in 1994 with a team that included Nigel Martyn, Gareth Southgate, Chris Coleman, Chris Armstrong, Bruce Dyer and John Salako. That team was relegated and then asset stripped of its better players but still managed to take four points of City, drawing 1-1 at home (Walsh for us) and our obligatory defeat in London losing 2-1 in April.
Getting it right at the back
So the injuries continue to accrue as Bacary Sagna and Fabian Delph were both forced off during games whilst playing for their respective teams. The latter being forced off after 9 seconds with a hamstring injury reeks of a player coming back too soon and if I’m Soriano I’m filling out the compensation claim to FIFA for England rushing him back into the team.
Sagna is only a doubt for the weekend which is a double blow as he was in the best form he’s been in since joining City, feeling like a genuine new signing and the payer we saw rampaging down the wing for Arsenal for several seasons. In addition, with Pablo Zabaleta out for sometime it leaves Manuel Pellegrini with the unfortunate dilemma of having to choose between Nicolas Otamendi and Pablo Maffeo at right back against Crystal Palace.
TAGENT ALERT: I saw unfortunate at having to pick a £30m footballer at right back when my team West Didsbury & Chorlton have used 10 left backs in their first 10 games as they’ve lost three left backs to injury already and even the head coach was forced off injured on Tuesday night at Bootle when filling in and finished the game with a half fit right back, two centre midfielders and a striker in the back four. Won the game though…
OK, I’m back. I’ve seen the EDS and Pablo Maffeo a couple of times this season and to be honest its been difficult viewing as they look like their at the start of their cycle again promoting very young players into the EDS to give them a chance to play against players from a higher age group whilst some of the older players go out on loan. The EDS have looked like a very young side drilled to retain the ball at all costs and have looked a little naive against more streetwise opponents like Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur. Now I know we can’t really take too much from the results themselves as its a learning process but the Patrick Vieira’s team didn’t really lift themselves to a level where they looked ready, Maffeo included, to compete for a first team place.
I’m sure Pellegrini won’t think twice about throwing Otamendi in at the deep end against Crystal Palace against one of the leagues best wingers in Yannick Bolasie as one of the things we’ve learned from Argentinians in the Premier League is that they love a battle and no doubt Otamendi will be determined to stake his place in the side, assuming his paperwork his come in of course. Whether or not he will be any good there I honestly can’t tell you as City refused to grant me access to the database of football matches from every corner of the globe.
In fairness, I’ve not actually asked them. Some people (OK the media) will be saying when you spend £30million for a defender he should be able to play anywhere in the back four but a players value has not relation to their ability and merely the value the two clubs have agreed on to sign him. I will say though Rio Ferdinand got rinsed whenever he played right back 😉
Of course there is a third option and thats Jesus Navas. I know Navas divides people better than no mans land in 1918 but I’ve always got time for him as a player. Last season I always thought his lack of end product stemmed in him being so much faster than anyone else he’d have to take a touch to allow them to catch up by which time so did the opposition defender. However on the defensive side Navas has never hid and has always been willing to track back, cover and work for his team. I’d fancy his pace against Bolasie and if he combined with De Bruyne on the right the attacking qualities would be frightening.
STOP PRESS: Bacary Sagna is fit to play and David Silva is injured and not being risked ahead of Juventus at home on Tuesday night.
I’m going to say this once and once only. If Kevin De Bruyne starts in the place of David Silva on Saturday this might be the only time we are just as good without Spanish Dave as we are with him. Palace are one of the most direct teams in the division and I don’t mean long ball percentage stuff like they were under Tony Pulis. With the front four of Bolasie, Puncheon, Sako and Bamford Palace will get the ball forward quickly and into wide positions. Last season at Selhurst, despite the offside goal, City struggled with the pace of Palace on the break.
If De Bruyne starts behind Sergio Aguero allowing Navas to continue on the right and Sterling on the left Palace will have to be superb to defend against that. I’m looking forward to it.
Crystal Palace actually have more injury concerns than City as Jedinak, Campbell (who still employs him), Wickham and Ledley are all a doubt whilst Joel Ward (in my fantasy team) and Chamakh are both ruled out.
However they’ve improved their goalkeeping situation with the arrival of Alex McCarthy despite their defence containing both Martin Kelly and Damien Delaney who will no doubt operate with impunity tomorrow as they did in this fixture last season.
James McArther is a great emerging talent and Yohan Cabeye shows that the future of football is with middling English teams rather than sides who are favourites to win their own domestic leagues.
I’ve mentioned the front four which will be a tough test for City, one which they are up to, and they’ve got Dwight Gayle to come off the bench too.
Its a tough one but like the previous four games its a different kind of challenge. Importantly its three points which we dropped last season and it brings the opportunity to earn three points they lost last season.