So it’s au revoir Samir and hola Sergio as the revolving door to Manchester City’s medical facilities continues spinning…and the Sky Blues just keep on winning.
It’s now 13 wins and just two draws from the last 15 games since City last suffered a reversal more than two months ago. If that fabulous run of form wasn’t impressive enough it needs to be put into context.
The undefeated, overwhelmingly victorious run has been blighted – not halted – by injuries to key players, none more so than City’s striker supreme, Sergio Aguero.
With the Argentine superstar ready to return almost a month to the day since initially being ruled out for eight weeks, his team mate, Samir Nasri, will be hoping a similar healing process can speed up his recovery as the Frenchman faces up to two months on the sidelines.
If – such a big word IF – if, City win any permutation involving the Premier League, the Capital One Cup, The FA Cup and the Champions League – a single, double, treble or quadruple, they will have done so in the face of adversity.
Vincent Kompany, Matija Nastasic and David Silva have also all missed substantial chunks of a season that has gradually gathered more and more momentum, so let’s not have any rubbish spouted about City being lucky.
By the same token, how long will it be before the bleating dies down in relation to Cheik Tiote’s disallowed effort, during City’s ninth consecutive top flight win over the Toon.
Funny how the furore – heavy on the irony – of Wilfried Bony’s ‘suspected’ offside goal for Swansea against City on New Year’s Day, passed by without comment.
Funny how Phil Bardsley’s foul on James Milner, before scoring Sunderland’s winner, back in November, attracted no attention.
Funny how one of Aston Villa’s three goals, clearly offside, in their 3-2 win over City in September, wasn’t endlessly debated by pundits and journalists alike.
Not much of a fuss either, when Alvaro Negredo was denied a goal on his Premier League debut on August 19 – incorrectly flagged as offside against…now who was it….errm, oh that team, they wear black and white stripes and are nicknamed after an unscrupulous, thieving bird?
The one thing that is undeniably fowl about the twittering masses from the North East is their apology of a manager ‘Potty Mouth Pardew’. Bedpans are probably still in vogue in Newcastle – they nigh on sh*t themselves every time they have to play City.
Anyway, I am told that I must let it go and…breathe in…and out.
Three days on and it’s yet another Manchester City fixture. Blimey this going for all four trophies is a bit of a malarkey isn’t it? Some would have you believe a quadruple is a load of old nonsense, but not Manuel Pellegrini.
Whilst never playing it up, City’s chilled Chilean certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of making British football history. Admittedly it’s a massive task, one that in all honesty is improbable, but one can’t but admire the cut of Pellegrini’s jib.
Tonight his City team, so frequently rotated they could be forgiven for feeling a tad giddy, face the stoicism of Gary Bowyer’s Blackburn Rovers – a team on the periphery of the Championship play-off places – who had the temerity not to roll over in their FA Cup 3rd Round tie with Manuel’s marauders.
Written in jest of course, Rovers made a real match of it against a City side who were decidedly average in the Saturday lunchtime encounter at Ewood Park.
Injuries dictate that not only will Samir Nasri be missing but also his midfield partner David Silva and the Ivorian Power Station, Yaya Toure.
Whether Pellegrini will risk resting the likes of Zabaleta and Kompany is highly debateable given how City struggled to dominate in the original tie. The City boss may opt to try and get the job done, and then substitute his stars in readiness for Cardiff at the weekend.
Richards, Clichy, Lescott, Garcia, Navas even young Lopes could find themselves in starting roles, safe in the knowledge that any sub-standard showing could be punished by a Blackburn team with absolutely nothing to lose.
It’s great to keep referring to City’s home turf as ‘Fortress Etihad’, but it will only remain so with focus and more focus from this multi-talented City side.
God forbid things aren’t going to plan at any stage of the game, but having Aguero on the bench is one hell of a ‘Get out of Jail’ card, if Pellegrini is to succeed in his monopoly of domestic trophies.
The two-goal triumph on Tyneside meant City have now scored 94 goals across four competitions this season – two more than the whole of 2012/13.
It would be pushing it and bordering on being disrespectful to Blackburn, to even hint at making it 100 by the end of the night.
Nonetheless I wonder what odds on another 6-0 City win on home turf?
A pragmatic 1-0 win will do nicely – just get the job done and come through unscathed.
We can but hope for a sporting encounter, refereed by an official who knows the rules, maintains control and an opposition manager who minds his ‘Ps & Qs’ and not his Effin C’s.
By David Walker