Good Kompany, medication and a comfort blanket – WBA v MAN CITY

Manchester City head to the Hawthorns tonight needing to lift the dark clouds hanging over their away form once they leave the nigh on impregnable Fortress Etihad.

It’ll be an extremely black night in the Black Country for Manuel Pellegrini’s perplexing underperforming players if they somehow succumb to a fifth defeat in seven matches on the road.

Kit Manager Les Chapman could be key, needing to ensure he’s packed travel sickness tablets and a big warm ‘comfort blanket’ along with all the shirts, shorts, socks and boots, as City take on the unpredictable West Bromwich Albion.

Bad Kompany - City could welcome back the Belgian Boulder at WBA

Bad Kompany – City could welcome back the Belgian Boulder at WBA

City, like anybody who feels vulnerable, will undoubtedly benefit if they don’t feel isolated, so some re-assuring company would be most welcome. A quick change of a consonant and the Premier League favourites may have just that, with the anticipated return of Captain Fantastic, Vincent Kompany.

The ‘Belgian Boulder’ – the rock on which City have built the PL’s meanest defence over the past three seasons – should be back to shore up a back line that has been conceding at the rate of just under a goal per game, since Vinny limped out of action 10 games ago against Everton.

A Kompany-less City have won eight and lost two of the matches in his absence – not the worst statistics in the world by any stretch – but most folk agree the Sky Blues would be at least four points better off had he been playing.

A win tonight, with the assistance of the Commander-In-Chief of City’s ground forces, could be a significant turning point in the season. Imperious at home, if City were half as good in their opponent’s backyard, they would be clear at the top of the Prem.

Instead they languish six points behind leaders Arsenal. The better news is that they are scoring at the rate of more than four goals per game and threatening to tear up the table, gobbling up the Gooners’ advantage and welcoming in the New Year at the pinnacle of the PL.

Awayday blues - Pellegrini must get his team winning away from the Etihad

Awayday blues – Pellegrini must get his team winning away from the Etihad

The boing boing Baggies are always a tough prospect, especially at the ground that sits as the highest above sea level venue in the country.

Hopefully City won’t require any altitude tablets tonight, but few among City’s fanatical support will complain if the team hits dizzy heights in three away games on the trot in the Midlands, Southampton and Bayern Munich.

Surprisingly, for those who have bad memories of pathetic City capitulations in the hotbed of the Hawthorns, the Baggies have failed to beat the Blues since December 2008 and, in the process, scored just one goal in six PL match-ups.

Under Steve Clarke, Albion have shown themselves more than capable of  competing with the top teams; beating Manure at The Swamp, forcing a draw with Arsenal and being cruelly denied a memorable away win at Chelsea by the diving cheat Ramires and the Muppet of a referee, the reprobate Andre Marriner.

Points giveaway - City would be top of the league but for erratic away mistakes

Points giveaway – City would be top of the league but for erratic away mistakes

Surely, surely Pellegrini will not underestimate ANY team on their own turf, not after the horror outcomes of Cardiff, Villa and Sunderland. Those are three defeats that quite simply should not have happened and City should have taken nine points. The loss at Chelsea should have been an equitable draw.

The City boss is still on his own learning curve in English football in tandem with his players coming to terms with the demands, requirements and tactical approach of their South American leader.

The flurry of December fixtures – three away in the PL, plus visits to Bavaria and Leicester in cup competitions, as well as crunch home fixtures against Arsenal, Liverpool and Palace – could well define City’s whole season.

Kompany’s anticipated return and Matija Nastasic overcoming an ankle injury in a fortnight, could soon present Pellegrini with a luxury not so afforded him – a settled back four.

Back to his best - Pablo Zabaleta is leading City's charge up the table

Back to his best – Pablo Zabaleta is leading City’s charge up the table

Full backs Zabaleta and Clichy are markedly better than Richards and Kolarov this time out – a worry because it owes more to the decline of the ‘reserves’ rather than the unbridled excellence of the first choice pairing.

If that can be achieved Pellegrini needs to show his hand and unequivocally endorse either Hart or Pantilimon in goal…unless Iker Casillas is actually to swap Madrid for Manchester. Personally, I want Joe back in goal asap – he’s a class act who suffered a dip in form.

Home is where the Hart is -  but Joe is destined to be on the bench against WBA

Home is where the Hart is – but Joe is destined to be on the bench against WBA

As for the boys at the sharp end, Aguero and Negredo have 16 PL goals between them so far – one more than Albion’s whole team.

Aguero was visibly disappointed to be substituted in the 3-0 win over Swansea, having to depart play without putting his name on the score sheet. Always a good sign, it illustrates Sergio’s insatiable appetite for goals and more goals.

As for the Beastly Alvaro, if he keeps up his levels of performance he will prove to be a £22m bargain. His telepathic link play with fellow Spaniard and former Sevilla team mate, Jesus Navas, is obvious to see, whilst his understanding with Sergio is a joy to behold.

Silva is still missing but likely be back in contention for the last Champions League Group D fixture. Merlin is a creative wizard but the emergence of Samir Nasri has finally given Pellegrini options and alternative playmaker permutations.

 

Twin Terror - Aguero and Negredo will want to maintain their goals to games ratio at WBA

Twin Terror – Aguero and Negredo will want to maintain their goals to games ratio at WBA

The Baggies away will be a chance for Yaya Toure to show his critics that he is actually ‘up’ for games against so-called lesser opponents. His dreadful display at Sunderland was replaced by a superlative showing against Spurs. He just needs to put on a performance every game.

City’s Ivorian stand-in skipper exerts enormous influence, both positive and negative, depending on his mood or mode of play. His blossoming midfield understanding with the unsung Fernandinho is a partnership every bit as important as the strike duo of Aguero and Negredo.

Up for it - Yaya could be the key to a City win tonight

Up for it – Yaya could be the key to a City win tonight

A win tonight is hugely desirable but Albion are the division’s draw specialists, so City might be faced with the proposition of either a point gained or two points lost.

God forbid they head up back the M6 pointless after a fifth away defeat – Pellegrini’s preparations or the player’s failure to execute the Chilean’s match strategy, will be subject to microscopic scrutiny and distasteful dissection. 

Let’s hope the men in white coats are not required for any post match post mortems.

 

#TrustOurMP

 

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

 

18 Comments

  1. December 4, 2013  12:32 pm by Mole Rocks Reply

    We keep saying it, however this is a crucial game. We need a good win to stay in the hunt with Arsenal.

    I had hoped to watch the match in my lucky pub just to make sure we won, unfortunately the game is not being televised!

    Of course I except no responsibility if City do stumble at the Hawthorns hurdle.

    Kompany will be ring rusty, however MP will seem to be forced to use him, just to stabilise the team.

    Again to repeat ourselves, why we are so reliant on one player, escapes me?

    I believe we have the squad to beat WBA, lets hope the players believe it too!

    Come on City!!

    • December 4, 2013  4:10 pm by David Walker Reply

      Certainly hope you're right Carl. We cannot afford to lose tonight - there's no reason why we shouldn't win!

  2. December 4, 2013  12:35 pm by Phil Taylor Reply

    sums it all up perfectly. Always a pleasure to read your pieces Dave, keep up the good work and lets have 3 more points to savour tonight.

    • December 4, 2013  5:26 pm by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Phil - I'll let you know how we've faired later on tonight if you are unable to get any updates.

  3. December 4, 2013  12:39 pm by Eileen Fullen Reply

    Agree with everything David we will need a solid performance from all our players tonight. Home or Away we have to be ruthless we must come away with 3 points-great to see Komps back

  4. December 4, 2013  12:45 pm by Chris Jones Reply

    Good article - agree with most points but for me this season Clichy has been largely disappointing whilst Kolarov has actually been very good. I'd prefer the latter to start purely because he offers more coming forwards and he hasn't made any defensive blunders either, unlike Clichy this season.

    • December 4, 2013  5:29 pm by David Walker Reply

      Fiar comment although I never like AK as a last line of defence. Clichy does have to up his game but on his day I think he's superior to Aleks - apart from his crossing and shooting...which just leaves the minor matter of defending!

  5. December 4, 2013  1:29 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    We know its a huge 3 points at stake tonight , if we win then then pressure lifts for the next away game and I see us winning both , I think 4 points is minimum requirement which sets us up for Arsenal. I know we need Vinny back but I don't think it would be wise to rush him back tonight, when he's come back from injury before its taken him a couple of games to get back to his best & we can't even afford to wait for him to find his rhythm . This really is sqeeky bum time and will shape our destiny . I would go with the same back 4 and trust in Pants who has conceded one goal in 7 games. As good as he is, Away at the Hawthorns on a cold Wed night is not the time to
    bring back Joe . A nervy CITY 1 nil . ( Aguero back on the score sheet )

    • December 4, 2013  5:31 pm by David Walker Reply

      Good points as ever Simon - yes I'd take 1-0 but given I'm off to the Hawtrhorns and could do without the stress can we have 3-0 please in first 20 mins ;-)

  6. December 4, 2013  1:32 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    This will be a tough one to face tonight, I think. Kompany to certainly return to the defence, with Lescott as his partner if Pellegrini is true to his views on a natural right/left foot unit. 2-1 to City.

    • December 4, 2013  5:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      It'd be good to see VK back but we're all pinning so much on him and he's bounds to be a bit rusty after 10 games out. Fingers crossed for the win in a tight game.

  7. December 4, 2013  2:18 pm by GeorgeInIsrael Reply

    I hope that unless the match situation needs something else, Kompany is only brought on for about the last 15-20 minutes. He needs to be eased back in gently.

    • December 4, 2013  5:34 pm by David Walker Reply

      Excellent observation George when so many supporters - myself included - are perhaps expecting too much too soon. A win and a clean bill of health would be 'ckin brilliant!

  8. December 4, 2013  4:07 pm by carole Reply

    The last time we were at the Hawthorns we won 2-1, coming from behind with 10 men after Milner got a red for bringing down Shane Long.. Seem to recall WBA were riding high at the time and were unbeaten at home. It was a brilliant battling performance by us with a man short and a well=-deserved win.
    Once again the nippy Long is in fine form so I hope Pelle DOES use VK from the start and gives Demichellis a rest. He hasn't got the legs to keep up with Long. Let's hope our high line doesn't cost us because WBA will be doing what Chelsea did...lofting long balls over our defence.
    Our 2 late goals came from Dzeko....wouldn't be surprised if he gets a run out tonight to give Negredo a rest!

    PS By the way David, I have always understood that Negredo cost us £16.4M! It was Jovetic who cost us £22M..Cheers!

  9. December 4, 2013  5:37 pm by David Walker Reply

    If my financials are incorrect I bow to your greater knowledge and acknowledge The Beast as an even bigger bargain. I would however start him over Edin everyday of the week. I am sick to death of Dzeko's sulks - he's pathetic and needs to man up or ship out.

  10. December 4, 2013  8:00 pm by Simon Dear Reply

    If I've just heard right .. Dzeko is going to have to man up !. . Bloody hell ....

    • December 5, 2013  1:30 am by David Walker Reply

      What? No taxi for Dzeko? His case is just slightly less curious than Javi Garcia's. Are these two in possession of incriminating photos of MP? Perhaps they're holding his pet hamster 'Chico' for ransom? If I had my way if anybody was daft enough to pay us £30m for the pair, then they're gone.

      Sorry that should have read £30.00 - thirty whole English pounds -

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