I doubt Enos even cares that we’ve got a game this afternoon. His beloved Rams are in action later on and that can give him some glory. Sean McVay knows he’s got to deliver; Kroenke’s own bucks are invested in the team. I say team but that really means the stadium. Los Angeles sports fans would do well to look at Arsenal and see how little Enos cares for the sports side of things once the real estate is in place and earning.
He might do well not to watch. Our rickety defence moves north to the Etihad to face a team which has scored against us in every game in the last four years; 19 goals in 9 games. We’ve netted 10 in the same period and none in the last three. We’ve lost the last four and I don’t have a lot of hope we’ll end that run, despite City’s woes in midweek. Those Newcastle goals were the first they conceded in six matches. They scored 28 in the process.
OK, so Burton and Rotherham accounted for 17 of those 28 which means City scored a woeful
nine (11, YW, you useless twat) in three Premier League games. The point is not how many they scored, simply the frequency, irrespective of competition. Did I mention our fractured defence faces a team which has scored in every home game so far this
No, I’m not feeling entirely hopeful this afternoon.
Injuries don’t help but in all honesty, I expected better from our defence than we’re seeing this season. Knowing their own limitations, discipline is the most important part of the game. Marking conscientiously, diligent positional play, complete awareness of where they and their opponents are; these are the things we should be showing but are noticeably absent.
Willingness and Desire To Improve
Some of that rests with the training but an awful lot of it is the players themselves. Certainly the concentration; how does a coach get players to develop that. Mental exercise, of course, but there must be a
Can they lift themselves to the required level this
Hope is why. Without that, why watch football at all? Even the slither which remains in my mind tantalises the prospect of victory; cruel fates may dictate otherwise but football has a habit of turning despair into joy by the final whistle.
And kicking you when you’re down.
The win over Cardiff City served its’ purpose in giving us three points and a quick return to winning ways, no matter how unconvincing the performance. Alexandre Lacazette’s barreling run for the second reflected his importance to the side and the nomination for Premier League player of the month highlights his current form. Sadly, I think he is the one who will make way if Emery decides to play this ultra-conservatively. Which I think he will.
He may not be wrong in that overall philosophy in this instance but if we’re down to choosing between Laca or Aubameyang, today call for hard work for the team. Plus, instinctively, I think the Frenchman is a more clinical finisher, requiring fewer chances to score than his strike partner.
Meanwhile, Emery has decisions to make in defence. On the right, is Lichtsteiner the lesser of two evils if Ainsley Maitland-Niles doesn’t return? Rumours abounded last night that he wouldn’t so it’s the Swiss who is the big cheese. Experience and a lack of pace over a quicker but inexperienced Jenkinson.
A Lot Of Buccaneering
On the left, the buccaneering Kolasinac or sensible Monreal. I have no issue with Kolasinac buccaneering. Except he’s mainly buccaneer when we want him buccinthere. However, Emery does like his full-backs to attack and that seems to be the raison d’etre behind Kola’s inclusion. His lumbering returns to defensive positions do infuriate, however.
We haven’t won at the Etihad since January 2015 and we went there that day with the same sense of foreboding. However, employing a midfield diamond as we did against Chelsea may serve us more of a purpose than three at the back. Does that mean a start for Denis Suarez? I’d be surprised in convential football thinking if it did but Emery made it clear that he wanted the player so I won’t be surprised if he does.
I’ll be genuinely surprised if Ozil starts, especially in a diamond. It’s a game where Emery will demand a high-tempo and energetic performance with lots of closing down. That’s not Mesut’s forte by a long shot.
Which leaves us with a starting line-up of:
Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi; Lacazette, Aubameyang
With Lacazette sacrificed for Suarez on this occasion if Emery decides to pack the midfield.
However much I may fear the outcome, I’ll always hope for the best before kick-off. If we can nick the first goal, that gives us something to hold onto. Is that enough? It’s a start, that’s all.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.