Date: 23rd December 2016 at 1:42pm
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Pep’s squad start the first of their festive season late evening kick off games with a trip across the Pennines to visit the KCOM stadium to take on Mike Phelan’s struggling Hull City Tigers.

Playing a side that is anchored to the bottom of the Premier League table, without a win in the league since the beginning of November and with a goal difference of -22 securing all three points should appear a formality for the boys in almost sky blue? Right?

Well I am not counting any chickens. We have seen on previous occasions how City have struggled against teams from the lower regions of the league – rarely able to take an early lead and draw out their opponents, unable to turn their possession stats into a meaningful lead which might offer their porous defence some measure of confidence City have often found themselves almost in an attritional battle which has most Blues nervous every time the ball crosses into our half.

However, the cathartic win over Arsenal where City won a match having been behind at half time for the first time since 2010 (some stat that is) might, just might, provide them with a platform of belief which they can build upon. The side will be bolstered by the return from suspension of Fernandinho although I would have to say that in his absence Fernando stepped up against Arsenal and put in a real shift showing some excellent resilience. Sergio Aguero continues his suspension – hopefully he will be refreshed, focused and back on form for the trip to Candlefield on New Year’s Eve, we need him firing on all cylinders and moreover we need him scoring with the single opportunity he might be presented with during a game. There is no doubt that this is one area where the leader, Chelsea, have been significantly better than us – Diego Costa has been deadly and the whole team can approach each game knowing that they just need to carve out one chance and he will stick it away. If Aguero can return with that kind of form then we may find ourselves relaxing a bit and the team becoming more confident.

Hull’s injury list is long but I am sorry to say I know little about them to know whether they will be missed. Aside from Aguero’s enforced absence City will be missing Kompany, Gundogan, Zabaleta and Delph. Whether Stones will be returned to a starting berth is anyone’s guess. After retaining the same starting back four in two consecutive games an enforced change would be required given Zabaleta’s absence but will Pep stick with the rest or will he reach into his Tactical Sorting Hat and pull out a different choice? Your guess is as good as mine.

He will be facing his first Christmas and New Year Schedule in the Premier League – no winter break to recharge the batteries but the full on relentless sequence of games that tax the best teams. The first task is not to squander the vital win secured at the Etihad last weekend. Get that job done and we can turn to the significant task of taking on the People’s Champions on their home turf on New Year’s Eve.

Come On City!!!

 
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