Can City bounce the boing boing Baggies for 7th win on the spin ? – WBA v Man City

Having come within 90 minutes of topping the Premier League at Christmas, Manchester City could find themselves six points behind leaders Chelsea when they kick off on Boxing Day.

Such fine margins illustrate the task facing Manuel Pellegrini’s side, as they go for their seventh PL win on the spin and ninth consecutive victory.

Tried, tested & trusted - Pellegrini has City right on track to defend their Premier League title. Courtesy@MCFC

Tried, tested & trusted – Pellegrini has City right on track to defend their Premier League title. Courtesy@MCFC

After confounding their critics, overcoming the odds in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico and progressing in the Champions League, a trip to the Boing Boing Baggies shouldn’t hold any fears, even for an injury-riddled City who boast the best away record in the division.

The Hawthorns has been a happy hunting ground in recent years with the visitors winning on three of their last four trips, the only blemish being a 0-0 stalemate on Boxing Day 2011.

Black Country Blues - City smashed the Baggies at The Hawthorns last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Black Country Blues – City smashed the Baggies at The Hawthorns last season. Courtesy@MCFC

Hovering two points above the relegation places, Albion have just one win in their last seven games, so City have the form book as well as history in their favour.

But complacency – rather like overindulging on mince pies – could have disruptive consequences for City if they were to lose focus over the festive period. It may be a time for giving, but that doesn’t extend to the goals against column.

Class act - Demichelis is a cult figure with the City faithful and ever dependable. Courtesy@MCFC

Class act – Demichelis is a cult figure with the City faithful and ever dependable. Courtesy@MCFC

With the entire strike force still stricken with injuries, City’s increasingly miserly defence would do well to keep the Scrooge impersonations going a while longer.

A fifth consecutive clean sheet – against an Albion side that has failed to score in seven of their 17 league games – wouldn’t go amiss.

Perversely, with Aguero, Dzeko, Jovetic and Kompany all sidelined, Manuel Pellegrini does have the option of naming an unchanged side after comprehensively polishing Palace off 3-0.

World Class - Is there a right back on the planet who is better than Zaba? Courtesy@MCFC

World Class – Is there a right back on the planet who is better than Zaba? Courtesy@MCFC

Gael Clichy has recovered from the knock that kept him out of the win over Neil Warnock’s team and, if Pellegrini is concerned about Albion’s attacking speed down the flanks, the Frenchman could replace Aleksander Kolarov.

Gale force - Will Clichy sweep back into the side at WBA? Courtesy@MCFC

Gale force – Will Clichy sweep back into the side at WBA? Courtesy@MCFC

The trade off is the Serbian’s often lethal left foot, as he cracks in first time crosses that have opponents running for cover.

Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala should continue their burgeoning central defensive partnership, albeit Captain Kompany could be back for Burnley’s visit to Manchester on Sunday.

Settling in - The Mangler is looking far more accomplished as he gains more and more Premier League experience. Courtesy@MCFC

Settling in – The Mangler is looking far more accomplished as he gains more and more Premier League experience. Courtesy@MCFC

Always a welcome addition to City’s Ministry of Defence, the Belgian Boulder is an integral vertebra in the team’s spine, a backbone far too often compromised by injury this season. That said, if City are keeping it tight at the back, it would be foolhardy to rush the skipper back too soon.

Kompany’s title-winning partner of 2011/12, Joleon ‘He’s Top of the League’ Lescott, will be facing up to his former team mates for the first time since leaving the Etihad last summer.

'He's top of the league...' - Joleon Lescott was a two-time Premier League champion at City. Courtesy @MCFC

‘He’s top of the league…’ – Joleon Lescott was a two-time Premier League champion at City. Courtesy @MCFC

He should receive a warm reception from the 3,000 strong travelling support and more than likely receive a yuletide rendition of his former ‘ditty’…however it doesn’t quite work so well when sitting at 15th place in the league table!

One ex-blue who could feature and won’t get the full peace and goodwill gig is Greek forward Georgios Samaras.

Centre of attention - James Milner has still to sign a new City contract. Courtesy@MCFC

Centre of attention – James Milner has still to sign a new City contract. Courtesy@MCFC

The ex-Celtic striker made disparaging comments and unfavourable comparisons between City and his Glaswegian employers when he left Manchester in 2008.

Having scored a paltry 8 goals in 54 league appearances, ‘Gorgeous George’ was more prolific in Scotland’s top tier with 52 in 155 games. That said, my Granny could score in the SPL…and she’s been dead since 1985.

Operating without any specialist forwards didn’t do City any harm last Saturday, so expect to see David Silva, Samir Nasri, James Milner and Yaya Toure in action in the Black Country, as well as the man of the moment – Jesus.

Silva lining - City will once again be without any strikers, but there could be goals from Merlin. Courtesy@MCFC

Silva lining – City will once again be without any strikers, but there could be goals from Merlin. Courtesy@MCFC

With the games coming just days apart, a fit again Jovetic is in contention for a return against Burnley, whereas the truly world class Pablo Zabaleta could rotate with Bacary Sagna at right back, to offset any tired limbs.

If City can bag the Boxing Day spoils and beat off a Baggies side that has registered only four PL home wins in the whole of 2014 – not just this season – they’ll be set fair to achieve their manager’s target of a 100% win ratio since November’s international break.

Rainy night at Queen's Park Rangers, but City weathered the storm and have come through as eight time winners. Courtesy@MCFC

Rainy night at Queen’s Park Rangers, but City weathered the storm and have come through as eight time winners. Courtesy@MCFC

Back in the wake of an incident packed 2-2 dogfight with QPR at a waterlogged Loftus Road, such an achievement seemed unlikely to say the least, but City have not only persevered, they’ve prospered despite the prolonged absences of Silva, Aguero, Dzeko, Kompany and Jovetic.

Yaya has been suspended from critical Champions League encounters and yet it’s been miles of smiles in the finest tradition of the ‘Carry On’ films – Carry on Winning is a hit with Sky Blue supporters and lovers of attacking football.

Coming soon? Jovetic could be back in 1st team contention for the Burnley game on the 28th. Courtesy@MCFC

Coming soon? Jovetic could be back in 1st team contention for the Burnley game on the 28th. Courtesy@MCFC

And as families up and down the country scoff tins of Quality Street and jars of Celebrations chocolates, City fans could have something even sweeter to savour if the club unwrap news of Super Frankie Lampard’s extended stay.

In a once unthinkable affair with Manchester City, after divorcing himself from his marriage with Chelsea, Lamps has been a revelation with his quality goals and performances, leading to plenty of on and off field celebrations.

Christmas cracker - Super Frankie Lampard could be staying at the Etihad for the duration of 2014/15. Courtesy@MCFC

Christmas cracker – Super Frankie Lampard could be staying at the Etihad for the duration of 2014/15. Courtesy@MCFC

How ironic if something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue proves to be the difference between Frank’s new flame and the self-confessed love of his football life, come May 24th, 2015. If City edge it there sure as hell won’t be any Terry’s All Gold on the menu! 

#TrustOur MP

By David Walker

 

COMPETITION WINNER

The Legends Stadium & Club Tour - we have a winner of two tickets worth £140.

The Legends Stadium & Club Tour – we have a winner of two tickets worth £140.

In conjunction with Manchester City Football Club, Read But Never Red has been running a competition to give one lucky City fan a superb Christmas surprise – TWO TICKETS for the MCFC Legends Stadium & Club Tour, worth £140.

We received dozens upon dozens of entries – the overwhelming majority of which correctly answered the question – how many first team games did Jeff Whitley play for City? Jeff, who is one of City’s brilliant line-up of Legends Tour hosts, made 133 League, Cup & Play-Off appearance.

The winning entry from RBNR reader, Ian Steggles, was drawn by City Business Development Executive David Smith, who has special responsibility for all club tours.

Picking a winner -  Man City Business Executive David Smith pulled the winner's name out of the lucky dip draw.

Picking a winner – Man City Business Executive David Smith pulled the winner’s name out of the lucky dip draw.

Congratulations Ian you’re in for a great experience and City will be in direct contact with you after the festive period.

And finally…sincere thanks you to all of you who – for whatever reasons – read RBNR, especially to those who take the time and effort to post comments, re-tweet, favourite, share or like the blog on social media.

As stated in City Square after the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace...

As stated in City Square after the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace…

Merry Christmas & A Happy Sky Blue New Year.

Dedicated to the memory of John Lovell Anderton, my Grandad and an avid Grimsby Town fan, born Christmas Day in 1900.  He introduced me to football on the terraces at Blundell Park and the war cry of ‘Up The Mariners’. More latterly, to a true blue Darren ‘Gio’ Giovannetti who is older, but probably none the wiser this very day.

 

  

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

18 Comments

  1. December 25, 2014  2:03 pm by Gil Riley Reply

    Brilliant David- thank you for taking time out of your Christmas day to pen that excellent piece! The quip about the Scottish PL and your Granny got a great belly laugh!

    • December 25, 2014  3:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      She always had an eye for goal did Nana! ;-)

  2. December 25, 2014  2:29 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Really enjoyable read David & Merry Xmas to you and all blues out there, sure we can get the max points over Xmas period so long as we keep our eye on the ball'bles' then top of the tree is their for the taking ( good eh ! ) oh well I'm Off now to continue putting stuff together for my two cherubs ... Bloody Santa delivers these gifts but he never puts them together ... He is a selfish sod , and he wears red & white!!! ... Git

  3. December 25, 2014  3:15 pm by pete lynch Reply

    Happy Christmas Dave. Great read. Hic....

    • December 25, 2014  3:53 pm by David Walker Reply

      Are you taking the pisch? Same to you Pete ;-)

  4. December 25, 2014  4:14 pm by Carl Reply

    Nice read Dave. Now go enjoy some turkey.

    • December 25, 2014  5:00 pm by David Walker Reply

      Yes boss! The Christmas dinner was fowl!

  5. December 25, 2014  4:34 pm by ian steggles Reply

    Thank you,thank you and thank you again! Xmas day has just doubled in joy!!! And yes there is a tear in my eye!

    • December 25, 2014  4:58 pm by David Walker Reply

      You're welcome Ian - thanks for entering the competition & hope you enjoy the Legends Tour...I've no doubt you will.

  6. December 25, 2014  5:20 pm by Richard Cooper Reply

    As said above, well done for doing your preview on Chrissy Day and loved your "man of the moment" comment.
    I think it will be an unchanged team and hopefully we have the tenacity and flair to collect the 3 points, as long as there is no complacency.
    All the best to you and yours David, and all contributors to your site who we know by name if not in person.
    Now back to the Black Magic and the bottles of half price Tesco red.

    • December 25, 2014  5:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      Some good old fashioned confectionary doing the rounds today - Quality Street, Celebrations, Terry's All Gold and now Black Magic. Thanks for finding the time to read and comment on this day. Here's hoping for a good Boxing Day bash just up the road from rural Worcestershire - a 25 mile doddle compared to the 120 mile each way for 'home' games.

  7. December 26, 2014  8:51 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    Oi - there's only one Gorgeous George round here... :-)

    • December 26, 2014  8:56 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

      By the way, I wouldn't mind a repeat of the score of my first ever MCFC Boxing Day game, at home vs Scunthorpe in 1963; City won 8-1, with both Matt Gray and Jimmy Murray getting hat tricks. Two days later on Saturday, Dec 28th, they played the return game and won 4-2!

      • December 26, 2014  9:19 am by David Walker Reply

        I suppose we could get by with two wins 12 goals scored and, if we absolutely must, 3 conceded. Wouldn't that be something for a 'one-man' team without any strikers! Do you have the phone numbers for Messrs Gray & Murray - emergency loan deals? ;-)

        • December 26, 2014  10:38 am by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

          Jimmy Murray died in 2008. Matt Gray (who is now 78) lives in South Africa. However, I understand that you can contact F. H. Lee, M. Summerbee, and R. W. Marsh on twitter :-)

          • December 26, 2014  11:17 am by David Walker

            Well 2 of the 3 - Buzzer gave it up after getting too much abuse. Strange how people feel free to abuse folk from behind the safety and anonymity of a keyboard - spineless and cowardly.

    • December 26, 2014  9:16 am by David Walker Reply

      That's a given! With Samaras I was being ironic ;-)

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