On song or off key? Chelsea v Man City

There’s a fat lady in London SW 6 preparing to break into song tonight.

If the obese vocalist is moved to belt out a chorus in the wake of a Chelsea win, it’ll mean Jose Mourinho’s team will have to hit some seriously bum notes to allow Manchester City back into title contention.

No laughing matter - Team spirit is high but City need to come out fighting this evening. Courtesy@MCFC

No laughing matter – Team spirit is high but City need to come out fighting this evening. Courtesy@MCFC

In the lyrics of another football-loving singer, Elton John, ‘Saturday night’s alright for fighting…’ and, metaphorically speaking, that’s precisely what Manuel Pellegrini’s men must do.

Of course, the one man who would take the lyrics literally will be missing from Mourinho’s line-up. Diego Costa is banned after his appeal against a charge of violent conduct charge was dismissed by the FA.

A player even more influential than bad boy and top scorer Dirty Diego, could also be absent from the Chelsea team, with Cesc Fabregas nursing a delicate hamstring.

Still out in Africa - Yaya will be missing tonight, but City have beaten Bayern Munich & Roma this season without the giant Ivorian. Courtesy@MCFC

Still out in Africa – Yaya will be missing tonight, but City have beaten Bayern Munich & Roma this season without the giant Ivorian. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s more than City could have wished for prior to the Londoners’ eventful League Cup semi final clash with Liverpool, the instigator and executioner of so many of Chelsea’s goal this season, being out of this titanic top of the table tussle.

City could counter that they too will be without key players. Yaya Toure and new striker Wilfried Bony are still with the Ivory Coast in the incredibly drab African Cup of Nations Tournament, and doubts persist over Samir Nasri and Eliaquim Mangala.

The irony with Mangala is that he made a sensational debut in the reverse fixture, looking like a world-beater in the 1-1 draw at the Etihad.   His form has fluctuated in the intervening period, and it’s by no means certain he’d get the nod ahead of Martin Demichelis, if passed fit.

Youth or experience? Martin Demichelis could get the nod over Eliaquim Mangala for City this evening. Courtesy@MCFC

Youth or experience? Martin Demichelis could get the nod over Eliaquim Mangala for City this evening. Courtesy@MCFC

It’s a given that Vincent Kompany will start at the centre of the City defence, but the City skipper is under serious scrutiny after some sub-standard performances.

The well worn phrase that ‘form is temporary and class is permanent’ is very true, but there’s never been a better time to recapture the form that has made City’s Captain Fantastic one of the world’s outstanding defenders.

In contrast, Kompany’s opposite number at Chelsea, John Terry, is having something of a renaissance period.

Captain's performance required - Vincent Kompany needs to step up and lead by example. Courtesy@MCFC

Captain’s performance required – Vincent Kompany needs to step up and lead by example. Courtesy@MCFC

Widely reviled for his off-the-field activities, including racial slurs and infidelities, the thoroughly dislikeable ‘JT’ is a vital element in a resolute Chelsea team who, until recent tonkings by Tottenham and Bradford City, were very tight at the back – just how Terry likes it.

Chelsea have the best home defensive record in the league, with only three goals going past the impressive Courtois, and none conceded in eight out of 10 fixtures.

The January jitters has seen City concede eight goals in five games and not a clean sheet in sight. It’s coincided with a mini-drought at the other end of the field, a situation Sergio Aguero will be desperate to correct today.

In from the cold - a Sergio sizzler will do nicely for City tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

In from the cold – a Sergio sizzler will do nicely for City tonight. Courtesy@MCFC

City are the only team to score in every Premier League away game this season, with an average of 2.27 per match – a league high. A score line of Chelsea 0 Manchester City 2.27 would be very well received!

Another factor in City’s favour is they remain unbeaten away from the Etihad in all competitions since late October, winning five and drawing two, scoring 16 and conceding five.

So, it’s the best home defence against the finest away attack at 17.30 hrs today – what’s going to give?

It promises to be an emotional time for Frank Lampard as he does what he probably thought would never happen in a million years – play at Stamford Bridge against his beloved Chelsea.

Mixed emotions - Super Frankie Lampard returns to Chelsea today, but in sky blue not royal blue. Courtesy@MCFC

Mixed emotions – Super Frankie Lampard returns to Chelsea today, but in sky blue not royal blue. Courtesy@MCFC

Pellegrini will probably hold Super Frank in reserve, just as he did when the ex-England veteran came on to score the equaliser, ensuring City and Chelsea shared the spoils back in September.

Ever the consummate professional, City will be hoping the return to ‘The Bridge’ won’t be too much for Frank, after all, he is only human. Will he be greeted with respect and admiration or treated with disdain and contempt?

Whatever the outcome and the environment, ‘Lamps’ will be under the spotlight.

If he adds to his tally of seven goals in 22 appearances and emerges on the winning side, Frank will be as popular in seven months at City as he ever was in 13 years with Chelsea.

Respect - Lampard declined to celebrate his goal against his former club back in September.Courtesy@MCFC

Respect – Lampard declined to celebrate his goal against his former club back in September.Courtesy@MCFC

Key to tonight’s outcome will be Chelsea’s ability to contain the man who makes Manchester City tick – David Silva. Both Middlesbrough and Arsenal have sought to smother the life out of City’s midfield magician in recent games and, in Nemanja Matic, Mourinho has one of the best defensive midfielders in the league.

At this stage of the campaign City fans could be forgiven for thinking ‘if only’ – if only Pellegrini had gone shopping in different parts of Portugal – Lisbon rather than Porto – and bought the Serbian from Benfica rather than Fernando.

Show us what you're made of - Fernando needs to prove Pellegrini was right to spend £12m on his move from Porto. Courtesy@MCFC

Show us what you’re made of – Fernando needs to prove Pellegrini was right to spend £12m on his move from Porto. Courtesy@MCFC

If City are to win – and they are more than capable of doing so – they need other players to step up and ease the burden placed upon Merlin.

If Nasri doesn’t make it will Pellegrini consider starting with Lampard?

City crave creativity and are far too reliant on Silva, but if Sergio has a sizzler he could run rings around Terry and Cahill. If Branislav Ivanovic is missing it will further weaken the pretenders to City’s crown.

Flying wizard - Merlin is magical but David Silva's team mates need to up City's output in the creativity stakes. Courtesy@MCFC

Flying wizard – Merlin is magical but David Silva’s team mates need to up City’s output in the creativity stakes. Courtesy@MCFC

Whoever lines up in various shades of blue it promises to be an intense affair. To succeed City must play at a tempo that has been woefully absent in 2015.

At times Pellegrini’s men have looked lethargic, ‘leggy’, even, dare it be said, lazy – not tracking back, failing to press opponents and leaving yawning gaps of space which the opposition have exploited.

In times gone by, the days of ‘Typical City’ when the men from Maine Road were adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at any given moment, it was said that fans always loved a ‘tryer’ – a player who, though lacking in ability, gave it his all.

On song or off key? Pellegrini takes his team to Stamford Bridge tonight for a titanic tussle with his old foe Mourinho's Chelsea. Courtesy@MCFC

On song or off key? Pellegrini takes his team to Stamford Bridge tonight for a titanic tussle with his old foe Mourinho’s Chelsea. Courtesy@MCFC

As Champions of England, there is an abundance of ability in the ranks of Manchester City circa 2015. If City can engineer a compatible work ethic tonight – one that matches the intent and gusto of the terrace chant ‘We’ll Fight ‘Till the End’ – that fat ‘cockney’ songbird could be choking on her lyrics!

 

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

 

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

14 Comments

  1. January 31, 2015  9:07 am by Ian Barton Reply

    Top read again mate. Recent history shows us to be at our best when our backs are to the wall, if we can shake of our lethargy & over confidence then 3 points beckon. #Fightilltheend

    • January 31, 2015  10:29 am by David Walker Reply

      Couldn't agree more your Lordship! ;-)

  2. January 31, 2015  9:16 am by guy Burke Reply

    Have been confident of at least a draw all week and have no reason to change my mind now , i have heard a lot experts say Maureen will use the absence of costa and possibly fabregas to galvanise the rest of his team with his Ferguson like siege mentality? I am not 100% convinced of this, as i have said previously the Portuguese pikey is still in a slump which started at madrid , most real fans couldn't wait to see the back of him yet the uk media seems to not be aware of this ? Of course by FT tonight he could be making me look a total idiot(not for the first time)the proof of the pudding.........

    • January 31, 2015  10:32 am by David Walker Reply

      You won't be alone GB - I think we can get a win tonight - we were the better team at the Etihad, before and after Zaba was harshly dismissed.

  3. January 31, 2015  9:24 am by pete lynch Reply

    Shaping up to be a cracker David. Great piece, JT line hilarious!

    • January 31, 2015  10:34 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Pete - good old JT, he loves the craic - or something that sounds similar ;-) Let's show Chelski why we are Champions and deservedly so. 2-1 City.

  4. January 31, 2015  9:53 am by Toby Teasdale Reply

    Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do TODAY!!! - Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield.

    Good luck City.

    • January 31, 2015  10:37 am by David Walker Reply

      Indeed TT no MANYANA syndrome from Manuel and the boys. We just need to have the belief, the conviction and the willingness to work our rocks off.

  5. January 31, 2015  11:01 am by Fifthcolumnblue Reply

    hate to say this, but if we lose this, the knives really will be out for Manuel. TBH, with our form going into this game highly questionable, I'm not optimistic. Then again, Typical City says we'll go out and stuff them!

    I actually hope Fabregas does start against us, as his dodgy hamstring should reduce his effectiveness, but I am delighted Stamper Costa won't be joining us - can you imagine his studs raking into the shins of Silva or Aguero? Doesn't bear thinking about!

    Here's hoping Clattenburg doesn't have a howler (our record under him is actually quite good) and make a mess of things

    Hope and pray for a victory to avoid the froth and foam of the haters, but as per usual, will be watching this one from the safety of the space behind my sofa! CTID

    • January 31, 2015  11:12 am by David Walker Reply

      Get yea out from behind the safety of the settee No 5! This one could go either way but, deluded as I am, I think we can come away with the points.

  6. January 31, 2015  11:46 am by Doug Henshaw Reply

    Great read again Dave especially the Terry bit cant stand him personally. Hopefully we will get something from the game today but if we dont i for one refuse to admitted its over although it will make it tougher. I just hope are form is better than the last two games. The knives are already out for MP couldn't believe the reaction from some city fans at the Etihad last sat wanting him sacked but lose today & the pressure will ramp up just hope the owners hold there nerve. #comeoncityyyyyyyy

    • January 31, 2015  2:24 pm by David Walker Reply

      For any City 'fans'calling for Pellegrini to be sacked I would ask - who would you have replace him? I'll hold my hands up and say if Pep Guardiola wanted a a move to England from Bayern this summer or in 2016 it would make sense for City to go for him. Other than that who would make a profound difference at the Etihad? Even if we don't win a trophy this year, if Pep stays put I'd give MP the final year of his three year contract to win more silverware.

      I must confess to being bemused that MP was given a brief of five trophies in five years...he was only ever given a three year contract. Patrick Vieira is serving his time with the EDS at City and will eventually come into the reckoning, but Pep would always be the favourite with the CFA set up and ex-Barca hierarchy. Anyway onto more immediate matters, let's beat one man who will NEVER be City's manager - the Snide One. Cheers Doug.

  7. January 31, 2015  3:41 pm by James HouseOlogy Reply

    Perfect game for us to turn things round, as Mr Barton has said when were underdogs when it seems all have us ready to fail, with chelski fans already eyeing up being 8pts clear by the final whistle goes.... This is when we are at our best... Albeit having Yaya and Bony on board would've made me feel more comfortable... Great read sir!!! Let's hope your next report is not a 3rd loss.on a bounce and City firmly back in the title race!!!

    • January 31, 2015  5:18 pm by David Walker Reply

      I hope such things don't come in threes! The only 3 we're interested in is the points tonight!

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