Date: 15th December 2014 at 6:22pm
Written by:

First of all may I apologise, dear readers, for the acute shortage of Ped Reports over the last week. Sue and I have been on a little trip to France and although we did get a chance to look at the matches played, we had little time to write.

What a week it has been at Planet Etihad. Not given a prayer by this writer of qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, Pellegrini`s men, against all the odds and with no genuinely fit strikers took apart Roma from minute one.

Pellegrini just about fielded everyone he could, but set out with a game plan that Garcia, on the other bench couldn`t master. City got at Roma and despite one early opportunity leading to an astonishing save by Hart and one or two near misses and more great saves by Hart, finally City, without Aguero and Yaya, oozed enough class to get themselves through.

The master stroke this time was another man often maligned in these pages in the shape of Samir Nasri. Often seemingly absent or absent-minded in matches, often simply anonymous, on this occasion he really did step up to the plate, perhaps dominating in a way we have not quite seen before from the enigmatic Frenchman. His goal was simply class and his pass into the path of Zabaleta to put the tie to bed was simply class.

City deserved this win on the night and it really does look as though the beating of Bayern Munich has given the Blues a different level of belief, not only in their ability to compete at this level, but also to do it without two of their top goalscorers of last season.

Pellegrini brought the kind of tactics forth, that many of the Blue Mooners though were missing in the earlier stages of the season, that saw us toss away the Capital One Cup (hopefully to Liverpool says Sue) and also surrender the lead in Moscow and the match when it returned to the Etihad.

It left us in a state of not knowing and delivered the laughing stock material to the poorer elements of the broadcasting press on the medium wave. You know who they are..assorted ex-Chelsea types and sundry Stretford fans who are finally having to eat some sort of humble pie whilst still telling us City are not Champions League material.

The hookey draw implemented for cash purposes by the faceless gnomes of Nyon has paired City once again with Barcelona, who are not exactly firing on all cylinders. If City play with the belief that they did against Roma and especially in the manner of the latter stages of the Bayern match, Barcelona can be undone, one feels, given that Sergio Aguero should be back on the field by then and raring to pit his wits against a wilting back four, second class goal keeper, over the hill Xavi.

The azulgrana do possess extraordinary potency up front in the shape of Neymar and more importantly Messi, but Suarez has yet to really show for them and much as he lit up the Barclays Premier League last season, one hopes that he continues to struggle to come to terms with being an ordinary-sized fish in the pond.

That said, one does have to question how come, apart from the entry of Roma, City`s plight in this season`s Champions League has followed an identical pathway to that of last year. And how convenient that the darlings of Nyon, Real Madrid, hot-balled themselves a fixture against probably the poorest side still in the competition. Bayern have also been delivered a dolly. Yes it may be a bit nippy in Donetsk in February, but can anyone see Shaktar really providing stiff opposition?

City will need to hit the ground running when Barca come to town and show them much less respect than they did last season. They can be stopped despite the riches of talent up top and if City can get back to a full squad it is a case of definitely maybe.

Back to the league on Saturday and an expected turgid match at the Kingpower Stadium where Leicester City, on an abysmal run of form, did their utmost to try to stall City`s title attempt. They were quite successful for most of the first half until Lampard scored a trade mark goal.

Once again you will see Frank loitering with intent outside the box, watching Milner take the defenders away to the wing, giving Nasri just enough room to squeeze the pass into the kind of space that Lampard relishes and once again he popped up like one of Captain Kirk`s men to prod home the winner.

Leicester showed why they are where they are, for once again City had to toil with only young Pozo up front, trying to perform a man`s job. He was lively enough, but as yet lacks the know-how associated with life in the Premier League. He has it though. He does not score for fun all over Europe and not know where the net is. Yes he found it difficult with a triumvirate of defenders almost inside his boots, but given some additional coaching and more matches, this young man can come good.

When your forward are either not firing or cannot fire because they are injured, it is important that midfielders come to the fore and once again this came to pass. Last time out it was Yaya, this time Lampard. City will take a 1-0 away win. Especially without Aguero, Jovetic and Dzeko. With Silva now looking to be fit again, the Blues will need as much help as they can get from the centre of the park. How annoying that Guidetti scores every week for Celtic and Negredo has opened his account at Valencia. It has taken the beat a couple of substitute appearances and a couple of starting appearances to get back up-and-running, but as we saw last season, once his raw power returns, so will the goals.

There are a number of very winnable matches coming up for City, but they will toil without their top strikers. We know that Crystal Palace will come with a long ball plan designed to play in the big fast runners like Bolasie. We know that they won`t stand on ceremony when City`s artisans get on the ball. We know that Silva will end the match with ice bags on his ankles. But at the Etihad City have got to put Warnock`s men to bed. He will fancy his team`s chances, having seen how West Ham and QPR fared against us, but City seem to be more assured now, especially Clichy at the back and although Demichelis might be considered less than rapid, the athleticism of the improving Mangala, unnecessary fouls apart, should be able to repel the threat.

With the broadcasting media orgasmics once again paying tribute to a team just outside Manchester that have somehow found six wins on the trot without midweek football, they seem to have forgotten that City have won seven on the trot, having within that beaten one of the best teams on the planet, endured a difficult trip to Rome and whacked both Southampton and Sunderland away. Have Southampton beaten anyone since they got their comeuppance in their own stadium? Still aren`t we glad to see that De Gea, having made six decent saves in three seasons is now the best goalie in the world. What happened on the twenty one times he has visited the back of his net playing against City?

Even the much accredited Patrick Barclay is getting in on the act, questioning City`s use of Frank Lampard. I have met and spoken to Patrick on a number of occasions and he remains one of my best respected journalists, but hey, come on sir, leave it alone. It`s not the fault of City that the gnomes and the muppets, haven`t found a way to box this one off.

So life moves on at Planet Etihad. As last season, we say nothing, keep our heads below the parapet, letting the Flat Iron and Motormouth do all the talking. It may be an interesting 2015.

 
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