Date: 22nd January 2016 at 1:57pm
Written by:

City travel to London this weekend to the Boleyn Ground where they will endeavour to win back to back Premier League games for the first time since late October. To do so they will need to overcome a West Ham side that have proved nothing if not resilient – you don’t get to January sitting as they do in 6th place in the league on 35 points and on the very fringes of the European places by accident.

West Ham took all three points when the two sides met at the Etihad in the balmy days of autumn so Pellegrini’s men will be wanting to return the favour this weekend. The form tables suggest that City will have to deliver a top drawer performance and take their chances – Slaven Bilic’s team suffered only their first defeat in 11 fixtures last weekend when they lost to Newcastle. Before that game they had won the previous four matches after a run of five consecutive draws and the teams sit beside each other in the overall form table.

Pellegrini may well have a full squad to pick from…..with the exception of course of Nasri and Vincent Kompany. Thankfully City’s recent row of clean sheets has ensured that at least the commentators can’t keep banging on about being unable to keep a clean sheet without Kompany in the team. With only one team having conceded fewer goals in the league (Spurs – 18) and City matched only by the Tarquins (21) you would think that greater credit might be due for this achievement given the disruption that the defence has faced. But no, why make a positive comment when the language of criticism is easier to speak?

But I digress…..Fernandinho, Bony and the much maligned Eliaquim Mangala may well be declared fit for the trip to London. Good problems to have for sure but it will make it a challenge for those playing Be The Manager! I am assuming that Aguero is fit and hold the Physioroom claim that he has a knee injury is some contempt as there has been no other news about this anywhere. It is either the best kept secret EVER or a complete fiction as the media would have been all over it like a rash. It has been great to see him back to something like his best form – the pace he showed in the defeat of Palace last weekend when he streaked away across the halfway line before unselfishly setting up David Silva for the 4th goal was a delight. Whether he will be afforded any protection from the close attentions of the Wet Spam defenders rests in the hands of Mr Craig Pawson……

After his 30+ yard strike which set City on their way against Palace last weekend and an overall dynamic and energetic 90 minutes Fabian Delph will be an option that Pellegrini will be pondering. Having started Toure from the bench last weekend will he do so again or re-instate him to the starting eleven? He added a different dimension to the game after his introduction against Pardew’s men but by then the game was stretched and he was certainly able to exploit the space available. That may not be a bad template to follow against a hard working West Ham midfield. Pellegrini’s critical decisions don’t end there though as he will be considering whether the benefit of playing a striking partner for Aguero is a risk worth taking given the way in which it seems to offer Sergio that fraction more time and space but weakens the defensive midfield capability…..or whether he will start the game with just the one up front where the counter-risk becomes allowing the opposition to regain position more quickly as City struggle to get the ball forward more quickly. Fernando certainly looks better on his return to fitness – satisfying himself with the tidying up.

Decisions, decisions……

For West Ham it seems that Andy Carroll may well be absent with a hamstring injury which would be a relief as he remains a handful and would make the lives of Otamendi and whoever is chosen as his partner interesting. Dimitri Payet offers a significant threat especially from set pieces so City’s defenders and midfield will need to be cautious when making their challenges on the edge of the penalty area. Mark Noble will make a nuisance of himself and he get`s my vote as the Player Most Likely to Kick David Silva/Sergio Aguero.

Oh and if we didn’t need any additional incentive this is the team overseen by hypocritical motor mouth Karen Brady – quick enough to criticise City’s spending but keen to maintain a stony silence on all the advantages that Wets Ham have been granted for taking over the Olympic Stadium. Perhaps she ought to discuss with her buddy Lord Sugar the pros and cons of being told by external bodies what you can spend your money on? I am sure he is a great fan.

Having found a mini streak of form of their own (& three clean sheets) City cannot rest on their laurels. Still fighting on four fronts – another thing that little credit seems to be given for – the margins in the league are wafer thin. Spurs are on a hot streak of form and remain a serious threat. The Tarquins face a rejuvenated Chelsea on Monday whilst Leicester take on Stoke and Spurs facing Pardew’s Palace at Selhurst Park earlier on Saturday afternoon – all offer the possibility of upsets……

Points are at a premium and City need to take all three.

Co On City!!

Written by Skoorb and initially posted in the forum – click here.

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