Pellegrini plays numbers game – SPURS v MAN CITY

So, after 17 wins, two draws and 64 goals scored, Manchester City face up to the team who they soundly thrashed at the start of their auspicious run of form.

After a wretched 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on November 10, few could have envisaged that City, even with the array of talent within their ranks, would sustain such a rich seam of goal gluttony.

Shot Spurs - The Beast bagged a goal when it was Six & The City last November

Shot Spurs – The Beast bagged a goal when it was Six & The City last November

It was a low point, with a good percentage of City fans up in arms. The early season ratio of away day losses suggested a long hard winter might lie ahead.

Admittedly it’s still January and spring has yet to be sprung, but Manuel Pellegrini has done a superlative job, keeping the plates spinning on four fronts as City chase a highly unlikely quadruple.

God forbid City’s season should descend into a Greek wedding, with their lofty hopes and ambitions shattered like Athenian crockery. It could yet happen, and how sweet would it be for Tim Sherwood if it started with vengeance for his Spurs side, who were so utterly humiliated at the Etihad.

Nice viewing - The Etihad scoreboard says it all but any kind of win at White Hart Lane will suffice

Nice viewing – The Etihad scoreboard says it all but any kind of win at White Hart Lane will suffice

Of course they weren’t ‘his’ team at the time. Since taking over from Andre Villas Boas, the combative and pragmatic, Sherwood has remained unbeaten in his first half-a-dozen Premier League games, hoisting his rapidly heating up Hotspur’s into the Champions League qualification positions.

He’s also managed something that was beyond the compass of both AVB and City’s ex-boss, Roberto Mancini – he’s getting decent output and goals from the enigmatic Emmanuel Adebayor.

There was a time when just about every striker that ever flopped in a Manchester City shirt somehow returned, to haunt their former employer and score against the sky blues…even the likes of Lee Badbuy, sorry, Lee Bradbury, famous for his interpretation of something to do with a banjo and a cow’s backside.

Belgian Boulder - Kompany will need to block out the threat of Adebayor

Belgian Boulder – Kompany will need to block out the threat of Adebayor

How Adebayor, held in pretty low esteem by the vast majority of City fans for his languid/lazy style of play, would love to add his name to the roll call of the dishonourable who did the ‘dirty’ on City, in the name of a new employer.

A pumped up and inspirational Belgian Boulder by the name of Vincent Kompany, will be out to try and ensure there’s no Tango in Tottenham for the Togolese striker, renowned for ‘throwing some shapes’ in his goal dance celebrations.

Without Kompany, City’s defence is somewhat compromised, but with Alvaro Negredo and David Silva set to return and a raring to go Stevan Jovetic in the squad, Pellegrini will be confident the best form of defence will be occupying Spurs’ backline.

His gorgeous football philosophy of simply outscoring the opposition has served him, and City, supremely well so far. 63 goals scored in 22 PL outings, contrasts with Spurs’ relatively sparse 29.

Alvaro's return - Negredo is back in the City squad for the challenging encounter with Spurs

Alvaro’s return – Negredo is back in the City squad for the challenging encounter with Spurs

When it comes to goals conceded there’s little to choose between them, City having let 25 into their net, just one less than their White Hart Lane hosts. Had it not been for the 6-0 loss at the Etihad, Spurs would have the second best defensive record in the PL, with only North London neighbours, Arsenal bettering them at the back.

It all adds up to an intriguing encounter at a traditionally very unhappy hunting ground for City. One win in the last 10 – albeit a stunning 5-1, Edin Dzeko inspired spanking in 2011 – would not usually augur well.

Since Sherwood took over, Spurs are second only to City on present form, taking 16 of 18 points, whereas City have a full house of 18/18 and 21/21 if we go back to AVB’s last rites and Liverpool’s 5-0 demolition of the Lilywhites.

Merlin Magic - Silva should return at Tottenham

Merlin Magic – Silva should return at Tottenham

Thus far, Pellegrini has managed to rotate his squad to almost optimum levels, negotiating numerous Capital One and FA Cup ties, less demanding Champions League ties (if you can categorise an away trip to the reigning European Champions as such) and more manageable games against the English top flight’s lesser entities.

One look at the fixture list for February and March strongly suggests that the days of mass rotation are well and truly behind us. Spurs, Chelsea in PL and FA Cup, feisty Sunderland in the PL and Capital One Cup Final…and then there’s the rather considerable task of FC Barcelona and the much anticipated two-legged Champions League affair.

That little lot alone has to cast grave doubts on the viability of a quadruple, if only because of the sheer volume and intensity of fixtures…and that’s before the minor details of a trip to the ‘Theatre of Screams’ and the Emirates.

Let's go round again - is Pellegrini's rotation game coming to an end with City tough fixture schedule?

Let’s go round again – is Pellegrini’s rotation game coming to an end with City’s tough fixture schedule?

That said a fit, focused and free-scoring Manchester City are a match for just about anybody at the moment. Where else are you going to find a ‘spine’ of a team to eclipse Hart, Kompany, Yaya, Silva and Aguero?

Zabaleta, Fernandinho, Navas, Nasri, Negredo are all having stellar seasons and lest we forget the likes of Milner, Jovetic, Kolarov, Clichy and Dzeko who all have significant parts to play.

Here to assist - Navas is a principal goal supplier since joining City but he netted twice against Spurs

Here to assist – Navas is a principal goal supplier since joining City but he netted twice against Spurs

Pellegrini’s squad oozes class, flair and capability coupled to a never-say-die attitude that used to be the hallmark of the Dark Side down the road.

If – and with just three days remaining in the transfer window, if is such a big word – if, City can reinforce at centre back and possibly defensive midfield you’d be hard pressed to state a case to say the much vaunted ‘Quad’ was beyond City.

A lack of strength in depth at CB could be City’s undoing if anything were to befall Captain Kompany, so what price a £30m or £40m ‘investment’ to secure City’s greatest season ever?

Nasty job - Nastasic needs to rediscover his form of last season to help City go trophy crazy

Nasty job – Nastasic needs to rediscover his form of last season to help City go trophy crazy

If City don’t splash the cash it falls on the shoulders of the likes of Lescott, Nastasic, Demichelis and Garcia to drop anchor and secure the rear, whilst Manuel’s marauders inflict incalculable damage on the frontline.

Since that dark day in the Stadium of Light in November Manchester City FC have remained undefeated at 1st team, Under-21 and Under-18 level – 37 games in total with 34 wins and three draws.

If Pellegrini can guide his team to another 28 games without a loss – (not much to ask is it?) – it would extend the league and cup run to an incredible 47 – matches undefeated and ensure a minimum of three trophies won.

Big numbers - Another 28 games undefeated and another 100 goals should get the quad job done!

Big numbers – Another 28 games undefeated and another 100 goals should get the quad job done!

Such giddiness will count for nothing if Spurs manage to end what they started 66 days ago and deprive City of outright top spot by 22.00hrs Wednesday night.

 

#TrustOurMP

 

By David Walker

www.readbutneverred.com

@djwskyblu

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