X-Factor or X-rated? LEICESTER CITY v MAN CITY

With silverware in sight will it be a case of all change once again when Manchester City, fresh from beating Bayern Munich and annihilating Arsenal, come into this Capital One Cup quarter final?

As City build momentum in their drive to sit aloft the Premier League on New Year’s Day, Manuel Pellegrini is likely to be ringing the changes at the King Power Stadium, for what promises to be a bit of a ding-dong with Leicester City.

Pragmatic - Pellegrini wants to win every game...in style

Pragmatic – Pellegrini wants to win every game…in style

X-Factor winner Sam Bailey will be adding her vocals to a vociferous home support, hoping Nigel Pearson’s Championship challenging Foxes can somehow stop the Sky Blues, who have triumphed in all four of their away cup fixtures this season.

City’s cup successes at Newcastle, Plzen, CSKA Moscow and that sensational comeback victory in the Allianz Arena, is in stark contrast with their fitful league form away from Fortress Etihad.

Four defeats and two draws in eight PL away days will be a source of some encouragement for Leicester, as will the statistic that shows in the past five seasons no less than six non-Premier League teams have reached the semi finals.

For the PL ‘big boys’ it’s a question of priorities and Pellegrini’s are firmly set on both the Premier League and the Champions League. That said, if a game’s worth playing it’s worth winning and, even with wholesale changes, the men from Manchester will still start as favourites.

Last time out Pellegrini made eight changes…and ended up beating the European Champions after being 2-0 down inside 12 minutes – not too shabby.

Comeback trail - Will a good performance tonight see Joe Hart back in City's Premier League line-up?

Comeback trail – Will a good performance tonight see Joe Hart back in City’s Premier League line-up?

Joe Hart will return in goal after a trio of more than competent performances in the Champions League and Capital One Cup, following his highly publicised axing from City’s Premier League First XI.

Romanian giant, Costel Pantilimon has played well enough in seven consecutive PL games conceding at the rate of one per game, principally due to Arsenal putting three past him last Saturday lunchtime.

Opinions are divided as to if, and when, Hart should be restored to the number one spot. Indeed, there is constant speculation as to whether Pellegrini will be active in the transfer market in January or the summer, to bring in a permanent replacement for the England goalkeeper.

Hopefully that won’t materialise, albeit Hart would benefit from a strong challenger for his job to help him achieve the form that so impressed in City’s title winning campaign in 2011/12.

Pellegrini has a plethora of players from which to assemble a team capable of reaching the semi finals and, at the same time, keeping his preferred options fresh for Fulham.

Captain Kolarov - Will Aleks lead City against Leicester after last week's stunning success in Munich?

Captain Kolarov – Will Aleks lead City against Leicester after last week’s stunning success in Munich?

Likely changes would see Aleksander Kolarov, Joleon Lescott, Dedryk Boyata, Jack Rodwell, Javi Garcia, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic, James Milner and even Marcos Lopes start the game.

If that were the case the Leicester team could look over at a Manchester City bench that would frighten the life out of  even the cream of Europe, with the likes of  Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany, David Silva, Samir Nasri, Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Pablo Zabaleta possibly being held in reserve, if needed.

When Pellegrini succeeded Roberto Mancini in the summer he was very publicly told that City had an expectation of five trophies in five years. Well silverware is silverware, but five Capital One Cups in isolation – or whatever they are called every third season, Carling, Worthington, Rumbelows, Milk etc – would hardly go down a storm in Abu Dhabi.

Praying for health and goalscoring happiness -Stevan Jovetic is back in contention

Praying for health and goalscoring happiness -Stevan Jovetic is back in contention

Clearly that is not the expectation and Pellegrini has quietly and meticulously instilled his playing style and philosophies into the mindset of his players. His mantra of City playing in the same fashion, irrespective of personnel, is very encouraging if you’re of the sky blue persuasion.It is reflective of the ‘holistic’ approach that so many of City’s detractors sought to ridicule when Mancini was replaced. City teams, from the kids to the first team will adopt a pattern of play – a signature style – to help players progress in a stable and consistent fashion.

It’s not unique, neither is it rocket science. It’s the template on which Barcelona and Bayern Munich – giants both, among European football’s elite – have built their dynastic success. How ironic that City have just beaten one of them and intend to beat the other, as they strive for Champions League Final glory in Lisbon next May.

But first things first – it’s not ‘L’ for Lisbon it’s ‘L’ for Leicester and Manchester City don’t want one ‘L’ of an embarrassment in an X-rated horror show.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

 

The MCFC Official Supporters Club, East Midlands Branch are playing host to up to 650 travelling City fans at two locations prior to tonight’s game, namely the Black Horse Pub at 65 Narrow Lane, Aylestone in the earlier part of the afternoon, and then later at the Old Aylestone Social Club in Middlehurst Street, also in Aylestone.

For my sins I have one extra ticket available for tonight’s match but it would require collection from North Worcestershire and. given the timing at a reduced price below that of face value. If interested tweet me @djwskyblu

5 Comments

  1. December 17, 2013  8:51 am by Guvnor Reply

    Great read, but don't go to the Walkers stadium, it is now called the Npower stadium. x
    You can also if you want mention that your branch are entertaining tonight in Aylestone Leicester.

    • December 17, 2013  12:08 pm by David Walker Reply

      We're both as bad as each other - it's the King Power Stadium! References to MCFC Supporters Clob East Midlands Branch playing host to travelling MCFC support duly added as a footnote. Cheers Dave.

  2. December 17, 2013  12:10 pm by Graham Ward Reply

    Plenty of changes tonight, but we'll still have a very competitive XI and bench for this game. I've also seen rumours that Leicester may make changes to their side as well, reasoning that getting out of the Championship is their priority. We'll see, but a 2-0 win for City is my feeling tonight.
    I think you summed it up perfectly, David....silverware is silverware, that's certainly my thought.

    • December 17, 2013  12:28 pm by David Walker Reply

      As ever thanks for taking the time to read and effort to comment. #MCFCBLUEBROS

  3. December 21, 2013  9:07 am by Mole Rocks Reply

    MP wants to win his first trophy as quick as possible, so was pleased to see a very strong side put out.

    As ever the away fans did us proud, great reading the praise from the Leicester fans.

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