Premier League Stats
The Head-to-Head record in the Premier League reads in our favour overall with us having won 11 times against them (out of the 20 times that the two have played each other) compared to their seven wins; and the remaining two were draws.
We have won four out of the the last five Recent Meetings (in the Premier League) with their only win being that 2-5 win at the Etihad last season, that included three penalties. We have also lost the Community Shield to them only a few weeks ago, but not sure how much can be read into that given we played a well below-par side and their win still needed a last minute penalty from an individual mistake. If we look back even further than the five league games or that Community Shield and include all competitions, City have won nine out of last 12 (and their three wins include the afore mentioned two).
The most relevant bit in the Form Guide below are the three fixtures from this season and like us they have also won two and lost one. The one stat that stands out in the Season So Far section below (albeit they also cover cover just the three games each) is the amount of goals they have conceded, so their defence isn't as solid as it has been over the last two seasons. Also worth looking at the disparity in chances created by both teams.
Before & After
The International Break before this fixture is more of an issue for us than them, because while most of our players are away with their international teams, most of theirs would get rest and some extra time with their manager for coaching as well.
Both teams are in Europe post this game, but we don't play till Wednesday (and Thursday for them) so that should be plenty of time for recovery and not directly affect either manager's team selection but still the International Break before and European ties after are something to keep an eye on.
Here are the before and after games for both clubs:
Sat 28 Aug | 3:00pm | Norwich City (A) - PL
Mon 30 Aug - Fri 10 Sept | International Break
Sat 11 Sept | 3:00pm | City (H) - PL
Thu 16 Sept | 8:00pm | Napoli (H) - EL
Sat 28 Aug | 12:30pm | Arsenal (H) - PL
Mon 30 Aug - Fri 10 Sept | International Break
Sat 11 Sept | 3:00pm | Leicester City (A) - PL
Wed 15 Sept | 8:00pm | RB Leipzig (H) - CL
What's gone on?
Lots have happened in the past week or so ... and not just on the field. Some would actually argue that nothing actually happened (yes, transfers-wise) but let me try and debunk a few of the myths that I have seen flying around on social media (and on this forum as well).
Let's go in chronological order ... Messi first then ... well, we tried everything to sign him last season when he himself was disenfranchised at Barcelona and had gone ahead and asked us (Pep and the ex-Barca boys) to put a deal together to bring him to City. We did all that, and in the end he simply went back on his word that he had given us and citing oh, but my kids and wife cried when I told them and didn't want to move so I will just stick it here and let's see again next season - and this wasn't the first time he backed off us after having hinted at wanting to move ... and so that was that, it was one too many times and City was never going to go back to him as he rightly pissed off everyone at City (all inclusive of Pep, Txiki, Ferran, Khaldoon and the Sheikh himself). So this time when he became available finally, we didn't go for him not because we were chasing Grealish or Kane but because we told him to F-off after last season, plus we didn't want to end up in an Alves situation where the wife would prefer Paris over Manchester at the last minute (not that anyone can blame her on that front) but that was the end of that.
Kane next ... very similar to Messi last season, he came to us, wanting to join us, gave us signals and I'm sure he or his representatives (which is very much the immediate family in his case) told us he wanted out of there and was going to do everything from their end to make the move ... but when pressure was applied at that end, they caved in rather too softly and folded completely. No other way to describe it and Pep's remark at the last press conference wishing him well for the rest of his career in London pretty much spells it out that even if he is now available for free or a cut-down price next season, we won't be going back for him.
Ronaldo was the last of the three big-wigs our fans got way too excited over unconfirmed reports this summer ... I think this one went the way Sanchez transfer went. Totally agent-led, he was offered to us and we didn't go looking for him. At least Sanchez was one player that had fit in our style and system, which this one didn't even fit us in this case. The reds on the other (out)side of town got spooked and went in big time (purely for the fear of another fans backlash against the Glazers) and got him instead by pushing the buttons be it via Fergie or other ex-players and his friends (and of course paying way over the top in both transfer and salary terms that we were ever linked with) and are now tricked into thinking that they have somehow won something in signing that. Well, we all know how Sanchez's career went there and I don't expect any different with this one either ...
Actually all three of them are going to fail this season ... and I will tell you why.
Kane knows inside that he (or his reps) messed up and this was his last big chance ... that is bound to eat him up inside and will affect his performances this season, especially whenever he meets up with his English mates on international breaks and they tell him about how they're scoring and winning for fun at the best-run club in the world. The squad that he'd look at every week around him at Spurs isn't any better to produce any extraordinary results and have a fourth or fifth choice mediocre manager at helm as well (who frankly got sacked by even Wolves). And looking forward to Europa Conference League games on Thursdays is hardly going to get anyone's spirits (or anything else) up - my prediction: he is going to have a poorer season than last few in terms of goals and assists.
The other two unarguably have been the best of their generation and can even be called best of all time. But their problems this season won't be their own ... they are at the twilight of their respective careers and on their own can't carry teams anymore. Don't get me wrong, they both will do just that in an odd game here or there but to carry the whole club over a whole season is all together a different task ... the issues they'd face are named Ole and Poch. Neither of the coach has actually won anything or shown any managerial master-class that'd put them in the same bracket as some of the others around (like Pep, Klopp, Tuchel, Conte or Ancelotti). And not just tactics but to add to that fiascos are the egos those two clubs have collected in one place, which are simply unmanageable by those two rookie managers. Just sit back and enjoy the ride ... For starters, if anyone thinks Cavani would simply step aside for CR7 starting with that no. 7 (that the later even uses in his initials for marketing everywhere), just wait and see ...
I'm not saying that we have dodged a couple of bullets here and should either of the three ended up at City, Pep and the rest around the new signing (in the team on field, and the club off it) would have made the move a success ... but I am just not sure where they are now can do just that.
So all those wanting Pep out and Txiki out and Board out and Owners out (yes, seen all of those opinions expressed), please calm down and remember this ... there is zero debate to be had that we have the best owners in the world football at present, we have the absolute best and professional board and management at helm, and we have the best manager in the world in charge ... if you disagree, name the better people in charge anywhere!
Shall we talk on-field now?
A 5-0 against Norwich followed by another 5-0 against Arsenal have helped in forgetting that first game of the season against Spurs. The Champions look champions again and Pep has worked his magic on individual players once again. It's all visible out there ... be it in Jesus on the right wing, or Torres' movement up front ... be it Laporte's newfound resilience and passion or Rodri involving himself in moving our game forward a bit more. And all this is happening without Foden and De Bruyne being involved on the pitch. Trust in Pep to make it all work like he did last season or how he has actually always done throughout his career at City, and even before that.
Ole in the Premier League or Poch in the Champions League aren't too much of a worry for me this season ... neither are the Klopp's hyped up one-season wonders over at the Merseyside. It's Chelsea that I fear as far as our Premier League crown is concerned. In Tuchel they have a tactician who has enough strength and depth in that squad that can rival us, and they have just proven their worth in holding off Liverpool despite going down to ten men in the first-half itself on the weekend. But then that club could very well sack the manager half-way through the campaign on the back of one or two bad weeks, so who knows ...
The only thing that is factually correct in all the off-field and on-field review above is that Pep and our boys are Champions and have proved it over and over again, so let's ALL get behind them this season, especially as we all are back in stadiums as well and play our part, whether we have a Striker or not!
Oh, and there's that fella called Delap to look forward to, who will no doubt be getting his first few sprinkled chances here and there ... just like Foden did all those years ago!
What's to come!
When this (stupid) international break is over ... and before the next one comes, we play seven games ... four in the Premier League, two in the Champions League and one in the City Trophy (Carabao Cup). That cup tie dissects these into two clear halves, and no doubt all eyes will be on the three that come after ... Chelsea (A), PSG (A) and Liverpool (A) within a week or so ... yes, if we manage to win those three, we'd pretty much be favourites to go all the way on all fronts this season again, but let's not forget the first three games that come before the Wycombe tie.
And those starts here with Leicester away ... before facing Leipzig and Southampton at home. Despite what the stats or recent records show against Leicester, they do seem to give us a hard game every time we play them, so all those times that we have won against them, the stats only state the result and not how hard fought those games were. Reason isn't them just having decent enough players, but Brendan Rodgers is proving his credentials as a manager and seem to be improving year on year. The days of him being in charge of Liverpool seem too far in the past already and is possibly the best British coach out there today.
But obviously he is no Pep ... and I don't foresee him or his team posing a bigger challenge than what any injuries on international break could pose for us. We are still suffering from the last time our players went away with their national sides (Foden and De Bruyne's cases in point) and that's the main reason I dread these breaks every time they come around ... well that, and the fact that I miss watching City for almost two weeks.
We have found our rhythm again and the team is getting that match-fitness and sharpness back as the season gets going. It's been a slow one-game-a-week start as it always is but after the break, it changes gears quickly with fixtures coming thick and fast. With Champions League and Carabao Cup returning to fill the mid-weeks alongside the league games on weekends ... these extra fixtures generally benefit us greatly with that squad rotation which ensures that everyone gets involved and the general happiness of the squad goes up a notch. I expect no different this time around, but the first game after the break is always tricky, not just due to any knocks or injuries players can pick up but because their routines change; the training regimes change, the styles of play change, the teams they play in and other players around them change and when they all get back there's usually only a session or two before the next game comes around. So here's hoping that our players come back without any knocks and without being run into ground (by having played all three games for their national teams) ... and when they return, they quickly find their current mojo back.
Oh, and this fixture not being picked by either Sky or BT does surprise me a little, especially when they have chosen to show Palace v Spurs and Everton v Burnley ahead of this one. I guess they are simply keeping our ties (quota) for the later part of the season, and this gives us fans a rare away game at the traditional 3pm kick-off on Saturday ...
Too early to call ... if this game was in a few days or even on the next weekend, I'd expect Pep to not make too many changes or even go with the same team again ... but with this international break, everything now depends on who plays how much while away, how far and away they travel to and if anyone comes back with any knocks or injuries.
Only good thing that I can write about this international break is that both Foden and De Bruyne have not been called up by either England or Belgium. And depending on where they are in terms of their recoveries, we could see them both involved against Leicester. As per original timelines given, both are slotted to come back after this international break and because the Champions League returns in the mid-week post this fixture (where we could see them both return to the starting XI), I think we'd see them get some minutes here if not the starts.
As I said it's all too early to predict, with too many variables ... Not just what the international break could throw at us, but the return of two games per week instead of one would see us rotate a lot more from game to game as well, to keep everyone fresh and to keep everyone involved (read: happy). With that in mind, there is a possibility that we might see Stones ease back into the team alongside Dias, while Dias and Laporte then return for the Champions League game mid-week. Similarly Torres up front and Jesus on the right could be kept for that Leipzig game and Mahrez and Sterling could instead get starts here against Leicester. Keeping the same theme in mind, Rodri, Walker and Cancelo (at LB) could be kept for mid-week, meaning Fernandinho. Zinchenko and Cancelo (at RB - and moving into midfield) could be the way to go against Leicester.
Oh, too many uncertainties to predict ... only one thing is for certain ... we'd see our boys in the lovely away kit again!
They always seem to score against us, but that is another myth and 'seem' is the keyword in there. We have kept clean sheets on our last two visits to the King Power, and have beaten them 1-0 and 2-0. So with us getting in a bit of a rhythm, expecting that trend to continue ...
Leicester City 0 - 3 Manchester City