Venue: The Hawthorns
Date: 29 October 2016
Referee: Lee Mason
Kick off: 15:00
UK TV: Not on TV.
Six of the worst. It’s now six games since Pep Guardiola’s City has won a game. Following our run of ten consecutive wins at the beginning of the season it’s hard to believe that we’d be six without a win, but here we are.
City travel to West Brom on Saturday in dire need of three points. If the Blues were to go seven consecutive games without a win, the word ‘crisis’ may actually become justifiably used. So, what are the things to consider come Saturday?
City Need a Win
It would’ve been absolutely impossible to predict City’s poor form after our visit to Swansea over a month ago. Granted, our run on paper looked more tricky following our trip to South Wales. However, even the most pessimistic of City fans can’t have seen such a long run without a victory. The League Cup defeat to United in midweek continued our poor run, and whilst the side played wasn’t full of quality, it was a derby game that we ultimately lost. The game this weekend is absolutely essential if City are to stop the rot. It’s not even a case of the league table or points, it’s a case of City rebuilding confidence. It’s time to put the last few games to bed, record a good performance and show the rest of the league why we are still a force to be reckoned with. Saturday’s game against the Baggies is an ideal opportunity to do just that. Tony Pulis’ men will be solid defensively, but don’t always offer the most when it comes to going forward. Saturday’s game truly acts as a chance for the more senior players in our side to put this winless streak to bed. If City fail to do so, don’t be surprised on Sunday morning when the papers claim that Pep is under serious pressure.
Our Youngsters Need a Chance
Possibly the only good thing to come out of Wednesday’s visit to Old Trafford was the potential birth of runs for a few City youngsters. In a game where more established figures like Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy, Nolito, Leroy Sané and Kelechi Iheanacho failed to impress, it was our two most inexperienced players who impressed the most. Pablo Maffeo and Aleix Garcia were fantastic against United, and whilst they couldn’t ultimately prevent a poor result, they did themselves plenty of favours with regards to starting more games in the future. In all honesty, I see no reason why Maffeo shouldn’t be thrust straight into the first team for the foreseeable future. Competition for his position at right-back is hardly rife, with Bacary Sagna injured and Pablo Zabaleta failing to light any fires. For Garcia, things are slightly more competitive, but if Pep could find space for the young Spaniard alongside Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan, I see no reason why both young players couldn’t feature in the coming games. All things considered, they are arguably some of brightest talents that have emerged from City’s academy in recent times (alongside Kelechi Iheanacho), and it seems foolish to give neither a chance when other options don’t appear to be working as well as Pep would hope.
City Must Get Better Defensively
This season, City have been frail defensively. Perhaps it was obvious, given a new style of play, that the players would struggle defensively. However, it’s staggering just how poor we’ve been defensively at times. If it’s not handing the opposition goals on a silver platter, it’s making it as easy as possible to break us down. In our winless six games, we have gifted our opponents countless goals. Kolarov’s mistake at Celtic, Kolarov’s own goal at Spurs, a collectively bad effort at home to Everton, a comedy of errors in Barcelona, John Stones’ back pass against Southampton. A list of mistakes that have either cost us football matches, or have gone some way to doing so. Granted, City haven’t been much good going forward in recent weeks, but if they are to break this unwanted run, our defensive play must improve immediately. We’re facing a side on Saturday that isn’t known for going forward, and if City weren’t to win at the Hawthorns, cries of discontent toward Guardiola might just intensify. It’s hard to imagine that Pep’s men will get many better chances to flex their muscles this season, so three points on Saturday is a must.
Who Can Hurt Us?
Whilst not known for being an expansive, attacking side. West Brom do possess a bit of quality in the forward areas. Nacer Chadli, their recent acquisition from Tottenham, seems to be finding a little bit of form. And given that our weaknesses can generally be found at full-back, he’s my opposition player to watch on Saturday.
Surely, it’s about time we put this rotten run behind us. I’m predicting a much improved side and performance from the Manchester Derby on Wednesday. It’s hard to imagine that the players won’t understand the importance of a win. Frankly, if they don’t – we’re choosing the wrong personnel. I’m predicting a 2-0 City win on a comfortable afternoon in the Midlands.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-10-29″ default_css=”true”]