Time is my enemy this week so only the briefest of previews I am afraid.
After successfully negotiating their fourth round tie against Wolves in midweek City are heading off for another tough fixture against opponents from the Midlands in the form of Tony Pulis`s WBA.
Having been victorious against the Baggies in each of their last six fixtures one might be forgiven for thinking that chalking up another victory will be a formality. City fans know better though and despite chalking up a significant milestone in the club`s history with their 12th consecutive victory last Tuesday, Blues fans will be wary of this encounter. Sides managed by Pulis always seem to find an extra gear as well as making sure they have their kicking boots as Ilkay Gundogan can attest to after he was synched down by Jacob last time out. Mike Jones was in charge of that game and he joins the party again on Saturday – possibly by request of the home side who somehow managed 1 booking to City`s 4. Go figure.
The effect of City`s draining League Cup win might be a factor especially as Sergio Aguero remained on the pitch for the full 120 minutes. He may start from the bench as a result as he continues to chase the elusive club all time goal scoring record. I hope that he can get that Eric Brook sized monkey off his back soon as it seems every single team is becoming determined to avoid being recorded as the one he succeeds against. Also, the longer it goes on the greater the mental pressure becomes to try harder, shoot instead of pass etc which risks unbalancing the play that has been such a joy to watch. Patience is required – which is easy to say when I`m sat at home or in the stand – but he just needs to trust in all the skill and ability that has got him to this position. Make the run – Kevin will find you.
Finally I have to find time to congratulate Claudio Bravo for his performance against Wolves. Three outstanding one-on-one saves during the 120 minute match were followed by two saves during the subsequent penalty shoot out. Although he will undoubtedly return to the bench for this fixture those saves and the way in which the players rushed to him after Aguero had linked home the winning spot kick spoke volumes for the squad and will have done wonders for the guy`s self-esteem. He kept City in the cup and deserves the plaudits.
There is no respite in the world of top level professional football and definitely no time for sitting back and thinking the job is done. Next week Pep and his men fly out to Naples to see if they can seal their progress into the knockout stages of the Champions League; then comes Arsenal at the Etihad.
Time to really make a statement – extend that unbeaten run and watch history get made when Sergio Aguero nets for the 178th time!
Come on City!!!
Opponent to watch
Claudio Jacob – if only to see how far he gets in the game before he commits a snide foul.
Referee – Mike Jones
Assistants – Matthew Wilkes; Mick McDonough
Fourth Official – Tim Robinson
Stats** (Premier League) comparison:-
Goals per game – 0.8
Avg Possesion – 40.7%
Pass Accuracy – 71.1%
Shots per game – 8.9
Discipline – 17Y, 1R
Goals per game – 3.6
Avg Possesion – 65.5%
Pass Accuracy – 89.2%
Shots per game – 18.9
Discipline – 16Y, 2R
**Stats courtesy of Whoscored.com
WBA are awaiting on the fitness of Gareth Barry, O`Burke & Robson-Kanu. Morrison, Dawson and City target Evans are all unlikely to feature.
City await news on the extent of Gundogan`s injury during the League Cup win on Tuesday. Mendy and Kompany are not available.
Potential starting XI, subs & formation
Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D,
Sterling, Jesus, Sané
Bravo, Mangala, Zinchenko, Danilo, Silva B, Toure, Aguero
Read more: https://manchestercity.vitalfootball.co.uk/forum/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=34214#ixzz4wY2qTr88
WBA v Manchester City – Match Day Preview