Fruit & nut on the menu – QPR v Man City

A fixture that could once have been regarded as easy as picking low hanging fruit, is now a potential banana skin for Premier League Champions Manchester City.

Invariably where there’s fruit there’s often a nut, and one Joseph Barton, pseudo philosopher, tweeter extraordinaire and England footballer of 12 minutes standing, will be present as QPR take on City at Loftus Road.

Nutter - Joey kicks off on that famous day in May 2012 when Barton saw red and City tasted glory.

Nutter – Joey kicks off on that famous day in May 2012 when Barton saw red and City tasted glory.

Joey’s sole senior international appearance came as a 78th minute substitute, replacing City’s now very own Super Frankie Lampard, during a 1-0 defeat to Spain in February 2007.

One can only imagine Roy Hodgson’s relief when Joey renounced his retirement from international football on July 14th, 2014, declaring his availability for England once more.

Maybe Roy himself has to imagine how he might have felt – did Hodgson or anybody else actually know or care that Barton had deigned to don the shirt bearing the Three Lions, if selected?

The Scouse scally was a City player back in the day of his England ‘pomp’, so what irony that Lampard, the man he replaced, the man who played 106 times, scoring 26 goals for his country, could be opposing him in midfield.

England expects...nothing from Barton!

England expects…nothing from Barton!

Lampard can provide much needed leadership on the field if he returns from a thigh strain that has seen him miss the last five games, especially with skipper Vincent Kompany out injured.

The influential captain joins the even more influential David Silva on the sidelines, as City try and sustain their defence of the Premier League title.

Elation at a fourth consecutive Manchester derby win evaporated midweek, when City succumbed in pathetic style against CSKA in the Champions League.

Crocked Kompany - Vincent misses the vital match with QPR. Courtesy@MCFC

Crocked Kompany – Vincent misses the vital match with QPR. Courtesy@MCFC

Conversely, QPR were in freefall a few weeks ago, roundly ridiculed and written off after an insipid 4-0 hammering at Manure. But sterling performances against Liverpool and Chelsea when Redknapp’s men narrowly lost, plus a 2-0 home win over Aston Villa, has instilled belief and determination.

However, Rio Ferdinand is suspended after being an unutterable tw*t on Twitter. Camelface’s absence is a big blow to City, even more than that of missing Kompany and Silva.

Dodgy ‘Arry will probably turn to City old boys Richard Dunne and Nedum Onouha to repel the invaders from the north. Dunninho will be up against the league’s hottest striker, Sergio Aguero.

Aguero anguish - Sergio will want to get the goals flowing again after CSKA. Courtesy@MCFC

Aguero anguish – Sergio will want to get the goals flowing again after CSKA. Courtesy@MCFC

Quicksilver Sergio, has scored 10 PL goals this season, the same as Richard’s record-breaking career haul of 10 own goals in the league.

For all his foibles, Dunne is still highly regarded by City’s rank and file supporters. He is unmatched as City’s player of the season for four consecutive years, during 48 months of comparative famine before the present day feast under Sheikh Mansour’s stewardship.

Gael Clichy is, like Dunne, a Jekyll & Hyde performer, outstanding against Manchester United after Aleksander Kolarov injured himself in the warm up, but dire against CSKA.

Super Frankie - Thumbs up on the fitness front. Courtesy@MCFC

Super Frankie – Thumbs up on the fitness front. Courtesy@MCFC

Clichy can count himself lucky that Serb AK47 is out for a month. He gets a chance of immediate redemption in the confined space of the smallest pitch in the PL.

Martin Demichelis might have a sense of déjà vu in Kompany’s absence. Last season City were coming off the back of another Champions League disappointment in Barcelona, when Captain Fantastic was sent off at Hull.

Demi – much maligned at the time – stepped up and never looked back and has since gone on to play in a World Cup Final and establish himself as a favourite with the City fans.

Eliaquim Mangala will likely form the centre back pairing and hope to get back to his superb debut display against Chelsea. The 23-year old French defender has had problems adjusting to the intensity of the PL…now is as good a time as any to do just that.

Class act - Demichelis is a cult figure with the City faithful and deputy skipper material. Courtesy@MCFC

Class act – Demichelis is a cult figure with the City faithful and deputy skipper material. Courtesy@MCFC

Yaya will – if selected (!) – take the armband, but for all of the pros and cons surrounding the Ivorian, he absolutely is not the stuff of which captain’s are made.

Manuel Pellegrini would be well advised to give the leadership duties to Zabaleta, Lampard even Demichelis.

If City go in with the attitude shown in two indifferent overall displays against CSKA, they could easily come undone in this claustrophobic space of West London.

Rangers may well have conceded the most goals (20) in the PL so far, and be third lowest scorers with (9), but in Charlie Austin and Eduardo Vargas, Redknapp has strikers who can punish City’s wobbly defence.

Let's see more of this - Manuel Pellegrini smile time. Courtesy@MCFC

Let’s see more of this – Manuel Pellegrini smile time. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini has been submerged in negativity since that cold night in Moscow on October 21st, but a fourth away win of the season could see City close up on Chelsea who play in the lunchtime kick-off at Liverpool.

The under-fire Chilean needs to keep his legendary ‘cool’, take a pragmatic approach and ensure his team fight for the right to play the expansive, attacking game for which they are renowned.

Days of old - Tevez and Barton point the figure as City swept to the title in 2012.

Days of old – Tevez and Barton point the figure as City swept to the title in 2012.

City haven’t been reduced to being ‘Dogs of War’ but they definitely need to add bite to their midfield play and when a QPR player is tackled, he bloomin’ well stays tackled.

Another City slip up would see Pellegrini and his team right in the jam, and their hopes and dreams of retaining the Premier League crown sliding away.



By David Walker @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu




  1. November 7, 2014  7:26 pm by DOUGLAS HENSHAW Reply

    I really hope MP can win back my trust because its at an all time low at the moment David. We need to win & we need to restore some pride I just hope you are writing about a brilliant win & a brilliant performance. Good piece as always Dave. Hope MP & the team realise how much they have hurt the fans & left us open to ridicule from opposing fans & the media who have been having a field day.

    • November 8, 2014  12:53 am by David Walker Reply

      We have to take the rough with the smooth, there was a time when was it was the rough with the VERY rough! Our players have to give 100% and be seen to give 100% - perception is reality and we need to play like the champions we are.

  2. November 7, 2014  7:41 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    I seemed to have been one of the few blues that didn't think it was a good idea to vent our dismay against UEFA on such an important night , not that I don't think they stink to high heaven , I just don't think creating such a negative atmosphere is ever going to help the team, surprise surprise were one down after the first attack .
    Having seen through the ages the detrimental impact the crowd has on a team I wasn't surprised . no doubt we will be at it agsin against Bayern.
    Now don't thnk I'm making excuses for such an inept display but we never started well and set the tone.
    I will reserve judgment on MP & this blues team until 15-20 games in & see where we are , forget qualification in the knockout stages of the UCL , a slightly resurgent QPR will be a big enough test for us & one we must win to keep on the coat tales of Chelsea. Lets hope MP gets his section right. But with Kompany & Silva out and miss firing Yaya the only player in our so called best spine of the team is Aguero. Thankfully he can win a game on his own and probably will have to for us to have a chance of taking all three points.

    • November 8, 2014  12:51 am by David Walker Reply

      A win at QPR is vital, even more so if Chelsea beat Brenda's bunch. At least the international break should eat up the clock and help City's injured players back to first team action against Swansea and Bayern. I, like most City fans, despise UEFA and it's warped values. Like Noel Gallagher, I'd rather win the PL over the CL. We should - should - have a squad capable of battling through against QPR and either keeping in touch, or closing the gap on Chelsea...we'd bloody better!

  3. November 7, 2014  8:29 pm by Gary Derbyshire Reply

    Great piece, David, and I think there's more than a few players who need to stand up and be counted tomorrow. Without Vinny and Big Dave at QPR, 2 of our most reliable and inspirational players, this already stern test becomes even sterner. Normally I'd more than fancy our chances but performances of late haven't been great and this could be a potential banana skin, similar even to the west ham game a few weeks ago. If we play to our full capacity we should travel home happy and 3 points better off. Wether that happens or not us another question! Big performances required, from the seemingly undroppable Yaya Toure especially, as anything other than a win could potentially spell the end of our title ambitions, that's if Chelsea take maximum points from Brenda's boys and go 9 points clear of us. Ever the optimist though, I think we'll brush QPR aside and go on a momentous unbeaten run and surge to the title with games to spare (gulp!)! My last point, with Wednesdays game still haunting me, is our MP too stubborn to try another formation other than 4-4-2? My feelings are he is and if our season fizzles out, he's going to be in big trouble. I don't think it's time to be calling for his head just yet big he needs to start shaking things up, maybe ruffle a few feathers in order to get our stuttering season back on track. #TrustOurMP

    • November 8, 2014  12:45 am by David Walker Reply

      Despite my CSKA Moscow post match piece I have not given up on Manuel, not by a long way. Even if we go out of Champions League, all will be foprgivgen if we can retain the Premier League. That said, Manchester City as a holistic entity have to sort themselves out in Europe. Next time out will be our fifth attempt, we can't play the novice card any longer and, if we do retain the title (not easy) we will be in Pot 1, so even if it were a Group of Death, we would be perceived as the Grim Reeper!

  4. November 8, 2014  11:17 am by carole Reply

    Think Nasri could be important for us today in the absence of Silva...he's been hampered by injury for a while, still doesn't look 100% match-fit and is yet to regain his best form, but at his best his creativity matches anyone in the Premier League.. Hope he gets a start....he and Yaya usually play extremely well together.

    • November 8, 2014  12:54 pm by David Walker Reply

      Surprised he didn't start against CSKA. Hope you're right, we need to start putting teams away like the Champions we are.

  5. November 8, 2014  1:11 pm by Toby Teasdale Reply

    "I, like most City fans, despise UEFA and its warped values. Like Noel Gallagher, I'd rather win the PL over the CL."…..

    Touché David. However, I don’t think our owners have invested north of £2bn, just to have the best team in England. Just as they intend Etihad to become the world’s best airline, they have invested in City to create the best football team on the planet.

    Maybe part of our problem is that Europe’s ‘out of our comfort zone’. Could it be that we (team, management and supporters) have become complacent, lack ambition and have excuses ready too early! Yes, we’ve had groups of death; squad limits; fines and bum (if not downright corrupt officials). Yet we have shot ourselves in the foot too often and on occasions just given up.

    Who would have heard of Ricky Hatton, had he not become world champion? If we think soccer officials are bad, compared to officials of the noble art, they are angels. Didn’t stop Hatton though did it?

    As the chorus line in Alan Parker’s wonderful ‘Bugsy Malone’ goes, “If you haven’t got it, then you may as well quit”. Having taken the Sheikh's money, we should seek deliver.

    • November 8, 2014  1:43 pm by David Walker Reply

      No argument here TT - I want City to be champions of England & Europe rather have to do a trade off.

  6. November 8, 2014  2:43 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Today could be a tough one, and I write as Chelsea have won at Liverpool. They keep getting those type of results, whatever we may think of them. Only a win will do now.

    • November 8, 2014  3:55 pm by David Walker Reply

      Absolutely. Chelsea are relentless at present BUT they will falter at some stage. We have to be right there when they do.

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