Date: 20th February 2017 at 2:48pm
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From the form team in the Championship to the form team in the French Ligue 1 as City return to Champions League action on Tuesday evening when they welcome Leonardo Jardim’s AS Monaco to the Etihad.

The French side currently have been in imperious form recently having only failed to win two of their fixtures since mid-December & remaining unbeaten. One of those was against their nearest rivals for the Ligue 1 title, PSG where they secured a draw with a goal deep into added time having only conceded through a Cavani penalty. This is the same PSG that produced such a masterly demolition of the mighty Barcelona last week.

Let’s hope the Monaco players haven’t been inspired by that performance to try and outdo them on Tuesday.

They have certainly been inspired by something this season though. Having finished the 2015/16 campaign 31 points behind the title winners they are now top of the French league and the highest scoring team in European football. The simple – and simplistic – explanation for this transformation…a year ago they averaged 1.5 goals per league game; this season they have scored 76 in 26, nearly 3 per match and substantially more than any other team in a top European league. All told the French side have an astounding domestic goal difference of +52 (GF76 GA24) and have a list of fourteen (14) players contributing to that tally and topping the list – a rejuvenated Radamel Falcao. The Colombian forward seems to have recovered his mojo after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in 2014 followed by two nightmarish loan spells at the Theatre of Nightmares and then Chelsea. Falcao has a total of 20 goals to his name this season (16 in the league; 2 Champions League; 2 in domestic cups) and is well supported by his strike partner Valère Germain (10 goals in all comps). They have been ably supported in this goalscoring bonanza by contributions from all over the team including the eighteen year old Mbappe whose 7 goals this season include a recently notched a hat trick against Metz, Carrillo (7) and Lemar who, with 7 goals from midfield, also represents a significant threat. Even their central defenders have been getting in on the act with Kamil Glik netting 4 times (one more than all our defenders have managed between them).

Talking of defenders, Jardim has overseen the refurbishment of that department with the addition of two attacking full backs, Sidibé and Mendy, the veteran Polish centre half Kamil Glik from Torino (most defensive clearances in Ligue 1 this season, with 161) and Brazilian centre half Jemerson all to the tune of £45m. That`s only slightly more than City forked out for the services of the unfortunate Eliaquim Mangala ( – which I guess shows that there is value out there in the market until you add on the ‘City Price Hike’ factor. Given that the defence has been the area which Pep and the management have elected not to overhaul immediately one can only hope that that they have been undertaking some serious market research before the transfer window opens and the contracts of several current City defenders expire.

But I digress…Pep Guardiola is of course having to get used to life without Gabriel Jesus but is seeing his City side regain some of the composure and fluidity that was evident during the heady days of summer and early autumn. Sané seems to have found his confidence and Sterling is relishing playing out on the right side of the attack. David Silva has begun to operate at his higher levels again and De Bruyne is beginning to show signs of rediscovering his form. The defence has been stabilised following the installation of Willy Caballero in goal. His presence seems to have reassured those operating in front of him and those marginal, fractional decisions which come along during games are being handled with more composure and confidence by whomever Pep chooses to play in defence – and that can be a challenge to predict especially for those of us playing Be The Manager. Fernandinho and Toure will need to be operating at their very best to contain the fluid and energetic Monaco midfield – indeed their role in protecting the back four could perhaps never be more crucial especially of we hope to prevent Monaco from securing a vital away goal.

This is going to be a tough encounter make no mistake and City will need to be performing at their very best all over the pitch. Aguero needs to take the opportunity presented by Gabriel Jesus’s unfortunate injury to show once again how he relishes the Champions League and City need to show that they can once again deliver at the top table of European football.

Come on City!!!

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