Venue: Etihad Stadium
Date: 27 January 2016
Kick off: 19:45
In one of the most incredible coincidences in social media history, it seems every single Manchester City player with an account on Twitter has issued a rallying cry to supporters umming and ahhing over buying a ticket for tomorrow night’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg clash with Everton.
“Let’s do this together! #MCFC,” said Kevin De Bruyne. “Take us to Wembley,” read the message on a picture posted by Fernandinho. Wilfried Bony jumped in with a “big game tomorrow, we are all together” and Sergio Agüero even took to the camera to mention the importance of the fans no fewer than five times in a heartfelt (completely scripted and club motivated) three-minute video.
Shots, albeit from the barrel of a water gun, have been fired by the club who are obviously becoming concerned at the specks of sky blue in the stadium that seem to grow larger each week. Soccer AM even purposefully asked for seven Blues to fill the eight seats in the Luther Blisset stand last weekend so they could slurp on the publicity generated by thousands of tweets posted by the Huarache-wearing, Nandos’ loyalty card holding shufflers of Twitter mocking our ‘shit support’. It was a pathetic move from Sky, but our attendance has been a running joke for a while now.
According to soccerstats.com, the Etihad has been 98.9% full so far this term. Seven clubs, including United, Chelsea and even struggling Swansea City, have a better attendance ratio; but taking into account the recent expansion and the obscene pricing of match-day tickets, those really aren’t bad figures.
Of course, our support is going to be crucial tomorrow night, but for Sergio especially, the support of a strike-partner could be even more important. Kelechi made a real impact coming off the bench in the draw against West Ham on Saturday, drawing defenders out of position with his movement which in turn afforded Sergio more space to run at his opponents. It’s been difficult for him as a lone forward in the past few weeks. Defenders know how good he is and will swamp him whenever the ball comes to within five yards of his feet; but with a companion, namely Kelechi who has established a tremendous understanding with Agüero this season, he has more room to work his magic in. Scoring goals will be our main priority on Wednesday and it would be foolish to isolate our biggest goal threat.
But who does Manuel play behind them? Sterling, who has been and out of the side recently, tormented Everton’s right hand side in the last game we played against them and his pace could be vital tomorrow. As for De Bruyne and Silva, it’s clear that one of them needs to be dropped in order to get the best out of the other and in a game that requires goals, Pellegrini may opt for the Belgian. Away goals only count after extra time, so having a player of De Bruyne or Silva’s quality on the bench could work in our favour should extra time be required.
Everton come to the Etihad with a 2-1 win to hold onto and their back-line will have to be up to much more than it was against Swansea on Sunday if they’re going to make it to Wembley. Call me snide, but watching Stones embarrass himself in the 2-1 loss gave me great satisfaction. Yes, he’s good on the ball and yes, he’s a cracking defender, but I’m sticking the view that he’s also terribly arrogant and needed that shoddy back pass to bring him back down to earth. Stones has been a revelation this season which is strange when you consider the Toffees have conceded 34 goals in 23 league games – a record that should have Sergio licking his lips. But Everton, like Saturday’s opponents West Ham, are a side that raise their game against the big boys and proved extremely tough to break down in 0-0 draw 13 days ago. Bet your house on Stones having a stormer.
In the best news Yaya’s heard all year, Muhamed Bešić misses out with a hamstring injury. Kevin Mirallas (tendon) will also play no part tomorrow night. And in the best news I’ve heard all year, Vincent Kompany is a “couple of weeks” away from a return according to Pellegrini. HLN journalist Kristof Terreur tweeted yesterday that doctors expect Kompany to be fully recovered from his calf injury by the end of February and after watching Otamendi play three days ago, it’s fair to say I’m a bit excited about the captain’s return.
Everton last reached the league cup final 39 years ago when goals from Chris Nicholl and Brian Little (2) earned Aston Villa the trophy in a 3-2 win. Their neighbours Liverpool had to rely on penalties to beat Cardiff City in the final four years ago.
This is a rallying cry to our supporters, our players, and also the supporters and players of Stoke City. Please, for the sake of football and for the sake of the residents of Wembley, let’s do everything we can to prevent a Merseyside final.
As Sergio Agüero would say, c’mon City!
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-01-27″ default_css=”true”]