Manchester City Preview: Squeaky Bum Time

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 season.

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 willingness and desire to improve on their part.

Can they lift themselves to the required level this afterrnoon? Neither Wembley or revenge inspired them in four days last spring so why expect any better this time around?

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.

’til Tomorrow.

120 thoughts on “Manchester City Preview: Squeaky Bum Time

  1. I wouldn’t play Xhaka anyway. Maybe it does mean Emery’ll play Suarez. I think Iwobi would be likely. Guendouzi is an Emery favorite.

  2. Mafternoon all.
    I think you capture the mood perfectly YW.
    I shall watch, but with one foot out the door.
    Good luck Gooners.

  3. Thankfully Xhaka is out and Guendouzi should play. Even if fit Xhaka should not play. He will never be good enough to play for a team that wants to be top 4 or above.

    We need to free up cash and wages to re-invest in the summer. The prority has be be to sell Ozil and Mikhi Mouse for whatever we can get. I don’t really care how much for, I was want them and their ridiculous wages gone. Next in line should be Mustafi and Xhaka.

    I cannot see anything other than a home win today. It will be interesting to see how we line up and approach the game however.

  4. Great preview yogi

    I recognize that we are not a great defensive team. However,Like it or not our only hope is to let them have most of the possession, play solid defense and hopefully frustrate them and keep the score low and score a goal or 2 on the counter attack. If we try to play football with them it could a blood bath

  5. “I have no issue with Kolasinac buccaneering. Except he’s mainly buccaneer when we want him buccinthere.” Love it! Is that an old one and I missed it all these years, or did that spring new-borne from your fountain-pen of a mind this morning, YW? Anyway, it lifted my extremely subdued pre-Etihad spirits, for which thanks.

    I reckon Emery will prefer Licht over Jenks and Monreal over Sead, but I’ve no idea how he’ll set out the midfield. Talk about going into a game as underdogs! I’ll be pleasantly startled if we muster a Yap.

  6. Well, he’s gone back five:

    Leno; Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac; Torreira, Guendouzi; Iwobi, Laca, Auba

  7. Teams up.

    Leno, Lichtsteiner, Kolasinac, Mustafi, Monreal, Koscielny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette.

    Subs: Cech, Mavropanos, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Suarez, Nketiah.

  8. Leno
    Mustafi—Kos—Nacho
    Lichsteiner—Torriera—–Guendouzi—–Sead
    Iwobi—-Lacazette—-Aubameyang

    Subs: Cech, Mavrapanos, Elneny, Ramsey, Suarez, Ozil, Nketiah

  9. NG

    > Is that an old one and I missed it all these years,

    It’s certainly old, I’ve used four or five times, but I think it stems back to musical hall days.

  10. Lich could get absolutely destroyed today. I’ll be surprised if he comes out for the second half. No Jenks on the bench so Mustafi would have to move to RB/RWB in that event. I would rather have had another body in MF and a back four but there you go.

  11. Hopefully , Lacazette and Iwobi will be posted to bolster midfield to frustrate and break where possible. Both are pretty useful for that… especially if Iwobi is instructed to do so.
    COYG

  12. This will be interesting.

    So far 3 at the back hasn’t improved our defense at all but it has been extremely effective at totally killing off our offensive side.

    No matter, let’s try the same thing again, who knows, maybe this will be the time it works?

    Otherwise I guess we’ll find out whether our two strikers are red top readers or not, and what beer they prefer whilst they pack out their deck chairs.

    I’ll be ecstatic if we get anything from this, but I can’t say I’m not concerned.

  13. 3-4-3 again, hope we play well, people who have requested we play defensive will be pleased, but Pep is throwing 5 midfielders at us.

  14. Iwobi brain freeze followed a minute later by a Mustafi attempt at a penalty giveaway. This is going to be tough.

  15. 5 starters out, what does everyone think is going to happen! Those are 5 questionable starters, and Mustafi is in the side in a back whatever is pure defensive suicide.
    My expectation today is we are falling closer to Wolves.

  16. Fuck me, why can’t players simply mark someone for once? I bloody hate zonal, just allows defenders to abdicate responsibility.

  17. This is going to be a rollercoaster. Crap defending but very good set-piece play. Lee Dixon absolutely gushing over the goal. Rightly so; pure Bould and Adams.

  18. No sooner said than Iwobi does a first class tackle and Laca nearly sets up Auba. Where’s the consistency, huh?

  19. Just what is Iwobi’s role in the team? What is his position? What sort of player is he?

    I don’t understand him.

  20. Torriera and Guendouzi have been super…and just think they are ONLY 22 AND 19!

    Bill, look away, 2 young players are flourishing getting high leverage mins 🤣

  21. Lichsteiner not following Sterling’s run and WTF was Kos doing, the ONE player you don’t lose in the box…it would be Aguero.

  22. YW,

    If only the Bould flick-on goal could have been combined with the Dixon hoof into the stands instead of the Iwobi duh-moment. Trying to play Graham football with late Wenger players.
    Producing sublime and ridiculous moments with nothing in between.

  23. For at least half an hour there we played as if we belonged on the pitch. Book-ended by such familiar lapses at the back. Fortunately For our goal Sterling lost Kos in just the same way Kos lost his man later. If only the score was evens.

  24. I don’t want to appear to pickin Iwobi here…..but he isn’t good enough for this team.
    Even the second goal was created on our right side.As the right sided attacker,he should be covering the right back space…not the fucking ‘D’

  25. We’ve got to be so careful we don’t drop our concentration in the next 10-15 mins.

    Oh dear. I wrote too late…

  26. andy1886,

    Amazed to hear an English commentator miss an opportunity to bring up Maradona when an Argentinian 10 scores with his hand against an English club. Perhaps the German keeper negated the impulse?

  27. Jonnygunner:
    I don’t want to appear to pickin Iwobi here…..but he isn’t good enough for this team.
    Even the second goal was created on our right side.As the right sided attacker,he should be covering the right back space…not the fucking ‘D’

    I think our players had it sugar coated for last decade or so, so no need to be subtle… Iwobi looks like his about to hit the big red button every time he gets the ball and this is in both boxes… 70% of this team is nowhere near good enough… And what’s more fearful is that it’s probably not going to get better any time soon… And we keep hearing that Emery needs a few more windows so we will wait… But no matter how many windows he gets, we will still be outinvested(if this is even a word).

  28. Well, it would be ,if it got us into the CL…. sadly not. But unless our competitors implode frequently enough, we aren’t going to win enough games to climb above them.
    Let’s hope mr Suarez is just working his way in…. he looked like he wants to be Ozil……

  29. The second half was surprisingly dull, with subs not helping at all. Nothing created in the opposition half.

    I would like to belive that a new center half would prevent such goals. But somehow I do not. Deeper chanfes needed.

    In the league, still a long way to go, with many twists and turns. Keep going.

  30. Chelsea still have many tough away games ahead. ManU are coming to our place, and a confident team would fancy the chance to beat them. Add to that the CL games, and the league position does not look writtwn in stone. The question us whether we go on a good run. I think our injuries are having a big impact, so some rebalancing is needed. We’ll see what Emery is made of.

  31. Fairly turgid & disappointingly predictable but I thought Guendouzi & Terreira were decent. They won’t be with us for long if they carry on impressing.

    Hard to find words for Iwobi. Hang on , how about casual , stupid & over rated.

    I also wondered why we had used one of our medical staff as a sub …but then realised it was Denis Suarez.

    Time for a sniffer.

  32. Emery deserves some blame tactically. He waited too long for subs and should have taken off Lichtie rather than Kola with Mustafi moving to RB. I would have moved Iwobi to the right and brought on Ramsey or Ozil for Lichtie. What was the point of throwing in Suarez and over Ozil?

  33. LSG,

    I think he could get there though, he has the talent and the mentality. I remember watching De Bruyne at Genk and then in German and his technique got better and better as he sharpened his talent from that raw talent to the player we see that he is now.

  34. LSG,

    It feels now like its almost personal between Emery and Ozil. I like Emery and think he will be a very good manager for us and I do think we will lift some silverware though obviously not thr CL and PL(cause we won’t spend liek others will), but the match was so open in the 2nd half and yet we had nobody to provide that final ball or even the hockey assist.

  35. LSG,

    At least when we sell them we’ll make a large profit (unless they run their deals down ) & that’s surely what it’s all about when you become a top end feeder club isn’t it ?

    When Denis S was out muscled by David Silva he reminded me of Ozil so maybe it was a toss up as to who came on.

  36. Limestone.

    I doubt it would have made much difference who emery had brought on. Strange things can happen in any football match but we don’t have the talent to compete with Man City in their stadium. Guendouzzi has potential but he would probably be playing in their u21 squad instead of being close to the team leader in minutes played. Players like Iwobe Mustafi Kolasinac Kos Lichtsteiner Ozil wouldn’t be playing first team minutes.

  37. I thought Lee Evans leichsteiner would be a more reliable signing but has struggled to adapt. Although at juventus they played defensive first , he’s just not suited to our piss poor gung ho scatter gun headless chaarge up the field and leave your posts tactics I suppose.

  38. Bill,

    Agree, we haven’t got the players to compete unless everything goes right on the day. But I do think Emery’s decisions left something to be desired.

  39. The issue though is emery doesn’t know his best side, its not his team its still wengers. He needs time. Time to bring in his men. Ramsey should be playing but Ramsey isn’t Emerys man. We lost the midfield battle again.

  40. C,

    I give him a great chance to develop. He needs to make quicker decisions as well so he doesn’t hang on to the ball too long at the wrong times.

  41. Bright spots: set piece goal, Guendouzi, Torriera, Leno

    Have to feel for: Lacazette and Aubameyang

    Bad spots: everybody else

  42. LSG,

    Agreed but he will learn, we have to remember this is his first season in the PL and at 19, is still learning with it being his only year in any firat division.

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