Date: 28th October 2016 at 7:16am
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Albion sit 13th in the Premier League table having secured only two victories – on the opening day away against Palace and in mid-September when they put 4 past the misfiring West Ham. Prior to their defeat at Anfield last weekend they had been undefeated in four games with three consecutive 1-1 draws which included holding Tottenham at the Hawthorns.

Rest assured they will be no ‘push over’ and I am convinced that Pep knows this already – he needs no lectures from all and sundry in the media about how there are ‘no easy games in the Premier League’ and ‘he can’t expect teams to roll over for him like they did in Spain and Germany’. I am just as certain that Pep never expected any team to roll over against any of his sides and that the victories which they enjoyed were the as much the result of his preparation, tactics and efforts of his players as any perceived capitulation by his opponents. No team sets out to lose a game but they might lose heart if they are playing without the ball for long periods and unable to gain a foothold in the match. But just as it is difficult for the media to embrace Guardiola’s thinking on how football should be played I guess it is similarly a step too far to expect them to avoid their clichés.

With Barcelona arriving at the Etihad on Tuesday for the Champions’ League group stage return fixture Guardiola will be hoping that none of his squad are on the end of the sort of ‘robust’ challenges for which Tony ‘take no prisoners’ Pulis’s sides have been renowned over the years. On that score however there is a feeling among some Blues that City need to develop a harder edge to their game. The first half last weekend saw them pretty much bullied by Puel’s Southampton players who gave no quarter and who were not averse to leaving a foot in early doors when the referee was likely to be more lenient. When City came out for the second half and finally started to give as good as they got it seemed that this, combined with the increase in the tempo of their play, helped them to gain the upper hand and deliver a much needed improvement in their performance.

January 2005

For me this was a sign that whilst the players have had the benefit now of nearly 4 months of Pep’s coaching, they seem have been prone to lapsing into old ways and slowing the build-up. The number of times against the Saints when they simply failed to progress the ball forward quickly enough and allowed the men in red and white stripes to regain their well drilled defensive positions had me nearly chewing lumps out of the sofa. Indeed their goal might also be an example of this ‘dawdling’ (or the clichéd ‘overplaying’ so popular with the hacks) when Stones, with his wingback Sané still high up the pitch and unavailable to receive a forward pass, the young man looked inside played the ball behind his team mate – a misunderstanding borne of lack of serious game time with his defensive partner Vincent Kompany. The rest is history and was a Godsend to the hacks.

Throwback Thursday to 2010, a 0-2 win over West Brom

That City have lost their fluidity and confidence is not perhaps a surprise – that can happen when results don’t go the way you want. This can have a corrosive effect on a team and the passes that previously fizzed into a team mate`s feet and stuck are now being under hit or mis-directed and the freedom that we witnessed in the early weeks of the season has evaporated.

City has won all of the last 6 encounters between the two sides scoring 17 and conceding only 5 goals.

No better time to extend that sequence to seven.

Come On City!!!

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