CHELSEA v MAN CITY – Micah’s the man for Manuel’s Ministry of Defence

Manuel Pellegrini’s philosophy of attack being the surest form of defence will be severely tested when Manchester City face Chelsea in the ‘El Cashico’ clash in West London.

Stamford Bridge is a few tube station stops removed from Whitehall, but City’s ruling MP will have concerns about his ‘Ministry of Defence’ in the continuing absence of on-the-field leader Vincent Kompany.

Battle at the Bridge - Aguero and Pellegrini are looking to be 'offensive' at Chelsea

Battle at the Bridge – Aguero and Pellegrini are looking to be ‘offensive’ at Chelsea

With 20 Premier League goals already netted and top scorer Sergio Aguero in scintillating form, City will want to keep Jose Mourinho’s counter attacking side on the back foot, well away from a vulnerable Kompany-less defensive core.

Despite scoring eight and conceding just three in a trio of consecutive wins, a City side shorn of their skipper will do well not to succumb to opponents bristling with intent in the shape of Oscar, Hazard, Mata, Eto’o and even Torres.

The unfortunate Javi Garcia seems to incur the wrath of most City fans whenever Pellegrini hands him the poisoned chalice of filling in for the absent Captain Kompany.

London calling - Micah could do a capital job in City's defence

London calling – Micah could do a capital job in City’s defence

His shaky midweek display in Moscow should signal a defensive re-shuffle and a second start in London in just over a week for Micah Richards.

Micah’s omission from City’s 2-1 Champions League victory over CSKA raised many an eyebrow, after his impressive performance in the 3-1 win at West Ham. His natural pace and power would complement the poise and positional play of Matija Nastasic, in a balanced right foot-left foot partnership.

Pellegrini does have other options.

Lescott could replace Nastasic and retain the left-right balance with Richards. Alternatively the returning Jack Rodwell could win favour in the heart of City’s defence. Dedryk Boyata doesn’t appear a contender and Martin Demichelis is still coming back from injury.

Kompany asset - City are too reliant on their Captain to marshall the defence

Kompany asset – City are too reliant on their Captain to marshall the defence

City’s chances of recording only their second win away at Chelsea in 16 attempts could hinge on who Pellegrini chooses. It cannot be right that the absence of one man can so undermine a team, but sadly, that appears to be where City are at every time Kompany picks up an injury.

That said, City have won two away games on the bounce so a third at Chelsea and a fourth at Newcastle in the Capital One Cup would be quite sensational, especially in the absence of the ‘Belgian Boulder’.

The form book for this titanic struggle of the two PL favourites would suggest Mourinho could add to his imperious head-to-head record against Pellegrini. The self proclaimed ‘Special One, more latterly re-titled ‘Happy One’, lost only one of seven encounters in Spain.

There’s no love lost between the two men as Pellegrini takes on the despicable Mourinho – his successor at Real Madrid – after the Chilean was unceremoniously sacked, despite amassing a record La Liga points haul for the Santiago Bernabeu outfit.

Against the odds - Can Manuel Pellegrini inflict a first ever PL home defeat on Jose Mourinho?

Against the odds – Can Manuel Pellegrini inflict a first ever PL home defeat on Jose Mourinho?

The pernicious Portuguese coach – never one for keeping knives in the rack if given the opportunity to stab someone in the back – was quoted: “If ever I am sacked by Real Madrid I won’t be going to coach Malaga. I will go back to a big club in the Premier League.”

Fair enough, Jose has been true to his word, the irony being that Pellegrini’s success, in the face of adversity at Malaga, led to his appointment at City.

City have lost 10 times in the last 15 trips to Chelsea, often finding it a bridge too far, and it was a certain Wayne Bridge who was the focus of attention when City last bagged the points in February 2010.

Chelsea captain, John Terry had allegedly been playing – and scoring – away from home with Bridge’s girlfriend, when the two men were supposed to be best mates.

Any extra-curricular activity had nothing to do with on-field play as Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy bagged a brace each as City settled the account 4-2.

Last season found City in the ascendancy, winning five and drawing once in half-a-dozen encounters in five different cities against the West End boys.

Amazingly, Mourinho has yet to lose a home PL fixture, clocking up an impressive 64-game unbeaten run, comprising 50 wins and 14 draws in his two terms under Roman Abramovich.

Pellegrini brief - Gael Clichy could add speed to City's defence

Pellegrini brief – Gael Clichy could add speed to City’s defence

But that’s not to say Mourinho’s Chelsea are unbeatable on home soil – only last month they put in a faulty display against Basel, losing 2-1 to the Swiss side in the Champions League.

Maybe Manuel can triumph likewise, if City put in a towering performance?

If Garcia does drop to the bench for Richards, the only other change could see Clichy replace Kolarov at left back.

Both Royal Blue and Sky Blue managers appear to broadly favour a 4-2-3-1 formation with both teams awash with top class internationals. Could it be an Oscar winning performance for Chelsea or a sumptuous Silva service for City that garners the points?

Flying winger - Could Jesus Navas leave Ashley Cole trailing in his wake?

Flying winger – Could Jesus Navas leave Ashley Cole trailing in his wake?

The return of Ashley Cole will be a big boost for the hosts, but can the veteran England left back cope with Jesus Navas if the Spaniard flicks on the afterburners?

Aguero and David Luiz could renew Argentine-Brazilian hostilities, whereas John Terry might be less than all gold if Alvaro Negredo – The Beast – can feast on JT’s diminishing pace.

It’s a fascinating confrontation in every area of the pitch and the astute Mourinho has singled Yaya Toure out as City’s main man.

The Ivorian colossus has been consumed in a debate on racism since CSKA supporters spouted disgusting chants on Wednesday night – (NB: no ‘allegedly’ about it) – with Yaya urging a possible boycott of the 2018 World Cup tournament in Russia.

Main man - Mourinho has identified Yaya as a major influence for City

Main man – Mourinho has identified Yaya as a major influence for City

Mourinho has openly disagreed with any such suggestion, adding yet another ingredient to what is already a very spicy encounter.

A home win would take Chelsea four points clear of City, whereas a second PL away win of the season would put Pellegrini’s side two points ahead, but with a massive psychological advantage.

However, it’s far too early for either side to be cashing in any title winning chips, especially in a season shaping up to be much more than a two-horse race.

#TrustOurMP

 

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

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28 Comments

  1. October 26, 2013  8:42 am by Ian Barton Reply

    Good summary Dave, think we have plenty of options but getting Vinny back soon is vital. Wouldn't be surprised to see James Milner starting to see off the threat down the right, although Navas going the other way could keep Cole pegged back.

    • October 26, 2013  9:17 am by David Walker Reply

      Cheers Ian - we seem to have a wealth of options apart from at CB, where for some reason we just go to goo without Vinny - totally illogical!

  2. October 26, 2013  8:48 am by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Excellent piece again David summed up perfectly hopefully we will get the Silver service and the Towering Inferno from Negredo and if our in form Aguero will present plenty of goals but agree the defence is the key. Hopefully our MP will give us Pride in Battle

    • October 26, 2013  9:20 am by David Walker Reply

      It's the philosophy of 'we'll score more than you...' which can be very entertaining and, if achievable, will obviously be successful. History suggests however that titles are built from the back and a good solid defence. As things stand I just think we've lost focus on that aspect but the injuries have been a nightmare.

  3. October 26, 2013  8:55 am by Alan Baxter Reply

    Our second "six pointer" of the season. We're set up to play high up the pitch and press. Chelsea are tremendous on the break. Our well documented defensive frailties in Kompany's absence could maybe force a rethink in midfield. I think this will be the key area. Stop Mata, Hazard, and Lampard etc from roaming forward and starve them of the ball up front. So perhaps
    not as "pretty" tomorrow but hopefully effective.
    Yaya and Ferna to me are key. Maybe Milner?
    Thanks for the piece and good luck with that blogger thingy :-)

    • October 26, 2013  9:23 am by David Walker Reply

      Shame about the t-shirt & cuddly toy! Cheers Alan - yes it'd make sense to 'clog up' the midfield but overall we ARE better than Chelsea so we are well capable of a very very BIG win.

  4. October 26, 2013  9:15 am by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    Am I alone in absolutely detesting Jose Mourinho and everything he stands for?

    • October 26, 2013  9:27 am by David Walker Reply

      I 'sink' not. Jose does a lot of sinking in every interview - surprised he's stayed afloat for so long. AND BEFORE THE SELF RIGHTEOUS BUNCH SWOOP - it's a joke - Jose's English is much superior to my Portuguese!

      Mourinho is a 'winner' but it depends if folk have the stomach for the means to justify the ends. I prefer our MP. In essence you are not alone 5th - there's at least you & I.

  5. October 26, 2013  10:51 am by Kammy A Reply

    Good views Dave. I'm confident with the way we are attacking teams that we could to a 'job' on the Chelski. I just hope MP does put a strong defence on show, we can't afford to gamble with Garcia in the middle on this one even though he had a good game at the Hammers. The significance is huge for a win here, especially I feel we could go on to a long unbeaten run and have a significant mental

  6. October 26, 2013  10:52 am by Kammy A Reply

    Good views Dave. I'm confident with the way we are attacking teams that we could to a 'job' on the Chelski. I just hope MP does put a strong defence on show, we can't afford to gamble with Garcia in the middle on this one even though he had a good game at the Hammers. The significance is huge for a win here, especially I feel we could go on to a long unbeaten run and have a significant mental advantage over our opponents!

    • October 26, 2013  11:03 am by David Walker Reply

      It is a proverbial 6 pointer isn't it. That said, if we came away with a draw I would NOT be too disappointed especially with no Captain Kompany at the back.

  7. October 26, 2013  11:28 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    This will be a stern test for City and I'm already veering to the "be happy with a point" camp.

    Talk of Rodwell filling in instead of Garcia is just as strange as Garcia getting the nod ahead of natural defenders.

    Lescott might prefer to be on the left, but surely he can cope with being on the right?

    Hopefully it's not MP being belligerent in light of us all shaking our heads at Garcia's ongoing selection?

    I'm working, so it will be a tense afternoon listening on the radio, past history is not our side, however Chelsea haven't been that spectacular so far.

    Let's hope the sky blues can win it for MP.

    • October 26, 2013  6:41 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'm the one who coined #TrustOurMP BUT the ongoing selection of Javi as a makeshift CB does leave a mere fan like myself as somewhat bemused. A draw would be more than acceptable - a win to stick it up Mourinho would be delicious.

  8. October 26, 2013  11:53 am by carole Reply

    Great analysis as always David.

    But am I alone in thinking our defensive woes have nothing to do with WHO comprises our Back Four and more to do with the change from Zonal to man-marking which caused confusion and uncertainty even before the start of the season and which has continued ever since?

    IMO even rock-solid defenders like Zab and Clichy STILL seem unhappy with it. Neither have been at their best so far. Even WITH VK, we threw away the lead away at Villa Park.

    What I'm praying for tomorrow are as few Chelsea set-pieces as possible...

    • October 26, 2013  6:47 pm by David Walker Reply

      You're spot on - the switch from zonal to man-marking has undoubtedly caused consternation within the ranks. I hate to say it but one of the players who seems to have been negatively affected is Zaba.

      Absolutely love him as a player but he doesn't seem to be producing the level of performance of previous 2 seasons.

      New systems can take time but maybe this is taking longer than MP envisaged. If we can start shutting opponents down at dead ball situations we could win the title at a canter.

  9. October 26, 2013  12:51 pm by carol main Reply

    Maybe its a good thing that Micah didnt play at CSKA considering the state of the pitch, we wouldnt have wanted to risk another injury? I hated Mourinho even before he laughed at us in that CL interview but that certainly put the tin lid on for me, I cannot abide the man and was so glad the rumours of him coming to ours last season turned out to be just that. In the tradition of the scary movie (or worse the cybermen) I will be hiding behind a cushion watching this one Davy

    • October 26, 2013  6:49 pm by David Walker Reply

      I'll let you know if & when it's safe to come out from behind the soft furnishings. Hopefully City to edge it by the odd goal 2-1 or even 3-2?

  10. October 26, 2013  2:21 pm by Etta Reply

    Also not a fan of the scowling one!
    As always a top review David, I so want us to win tomorrow. Hoping he plays Milner and Micah, looking forward to when Demichelis starts playing!
    Good luck when the voting ends tomorrow! Would love it if you won!!!

    • October 26, 2013  6:52 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Mrs G - I'd take an #MCFC win over any personal recognition in the FBAs. My appreciation once again for reading & taking the time to comment again.

  11. October 26, 2013  3:22 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    Good piece again Dave, As I have said previously the defence is a concern without Vinny one man shouldnt make a difference yet it does. I agree with you put Micah in or Rodwell but for me not Lescott I just dont rate the guy he can be great for 80mins but then the mistake happens & its always costly. Its nothing personal just my opion.But hopefully we come away with 3 pts.

    • October 26, 2013  6:56 pm by David Walker Reply

      Joleon is an enigma. A PL champion & FA Cup winner JL never seems comfortable on the ball. It's the tool of his trade but it seems like a live grenade to JL.

      He is very capable at times but, yes,I share your concerns...

      Thanks #MCFCBLUEBROS!

  12. October 26, 2013  9:54 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Hope we win tomorrow, but I think we'll come away with a point. I'll be very happy to be proved wrong. I've got a feeling Demichelis will start at Chelsea, he's certainly in the squad that's made the trip. I'm not in the Mourinho fan club either!

    • October 27, 2013  5:22 am by David Walker Reply

      I was under the impression MD was still too ring rusty to be plunged back into the big time at The Bridge? A draw would be fine but then again I wonder if I am being too cautious/negative? All I do know is, a City win would see MP laying the gauntlet down to Arsenal,Liverpool, Spurs etc.

  13. October 27, 2013  12:42 am by susan richardson Reply

    Upbeat as usual. Hope Ya Ya is fired up to give Mourinho nightmares.

    • October 27, 2013  5:25 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Susan - upbeat, but just a hint of trepidation due to the frailties of City's defence.

  14. October 27, 2013  3:31 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Having just seen the team selection it appears MP has other ideas about the team selection .. Or maybe he knows something we don't .. Bringing Demechelis in for his debut is a massive call .. And no Lescott ? Richards on the bench and a start for Garcia .. Holding role ... Would take a point now on the basis of this team selection with no Kompany again .. Maybe MP has that in mind . We arrive with a point and will try to keep it . Sounds more like a Mourinho tactic .

    • October 27, 2013  9:03 pm by David Walker Reply

      Just seen this Simon, obviously after the event. We so deserved that point. I'm not a fan of Garcia but nonetheless MP had called it pretty well up until that horrible last minute of normal time. You can't legislate for individual errors. I still think we'll win the title - and oh boy do I get some sh*t on twitter for my views. It's really rather amusing but it's all about opinions. Thanks, as ever for reading and commenting - much appreciated.

  15. October 28, 2013  12:34 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    Thanks David always a great read , I tried to not let the result ruin my barby round the pool in Florida !! .. But it didn't taste as good after that and Harts mistake didn't look any better on Fox sports ! It was a such bad way to lose and we didn't deserve that , I know you are a great Hart fan but he has cost us a few points already this season , if we had a top quality back up then I think MP would drop him.. Lets see how Pants does at Newcastle . I don't think the title race is over , we lost at Chelsea the year we won it but I think we need to go on a 9/10 game winning run now. The bookies still agree with you at least .

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