The Tourés On Tour And Other Stories
January is almost upon us. This may signify the start of the New Year but for City it signifies the leaving of YaYa and Kolo Touré for the Afican Cup of Nations...which runs from 19 January to 10 February.
That doesn't seem like a long time but in terms of football it is a hell of a key period of absence where anything could happen and probably will.
YaYa and Kolo will depart from City after they have played in the third round FA Cup game against Watford on 5th January. YaYa is a power player but apart from the last game at Newcastle where he played a blinder he has been a little 'off'. Maybe he just needed that break through European suspension and could use a further break from the mental pressure of the Premier League. As an added bonus there is every possibility he will recover his form whilst in South Africa and furthermore, if the Ivory Coast win the ACN there could be all the positive thoughts and energies he is going to bring back with him.
Kolo has worked tremendously hard since recently being given a chance to shine and the type of experience he brings to a generally young squad will always be missed.
However, a big gap will be left in our midfield when Yaya goes. Can we fill it? So who've we got on board? Garcia and Rodwell (shriek). If we can integrate these two into the first team we MIGHT be in with a chance. I think Garcia seems to be the more fitting of the two and dare I say it, he seems to fit in a little better each time he plays. We can't really speak for Rodwell until he comes back from a lengthy injury (so I will leave an open verdict on young Jack for now).
James Milner and Gareth Barry will most certainly be needed in January. Providing no injuries occur with these two players our midfield should be covered. As long as Roberto Mancini does not choose an inappropriate squad in January/ February we should be able to turn out a good midfield display.
Moving on to defence and Micah Richards who will be welcomed with open arms when he returns. We can't afford to have any gaps in our defence now we have arrived at the no margin for error stage and when he comes back, which could be February, there shouldn't be be any.
Richards is one of the best defenders in the Premier League and to lose him in rich form like we did in October hit us hard.
The return of Micah and Yaya would be like maling two new signings.
What we need in our back four is stability and pace and when Richards is playing he gets tough when the pressure is on. A perfect example of when and where we needed him was at the derby when Wayne Rugney scored his first goal. If Richards had been there I would say 99.9% that that that trundling goal would not have happened as Rugney approached the goal from the area where Richards would otherwise have played. Richards' return will have a massive impact on the amount of goals we DON'T let in for the rest of the season. Of course he wont be able to jump into the breach as soon as he comes back as obviously he will have to get back on form but a couple of months playing time (say late February / early March when he is match fit) should be sufficient enough for him to make an impact (hopefully...positive thinking here)..hurry up back Micah.
Meanwhile, midfield matters again and the injury priority now is for Milly to be fit and ready in time for January as he is one mighty strong player to have in the midfield. Barry will be firing on all cylinders after his one match ban for swearing at referees the way Rugney does for the Stretfords in EVERY game. Garcia is already on improving form (let's just hope he doesnt get too giddy and injure himself again). That leaves Rodwell who I really hope he can start to make an impression and earn his keep soon, and one person who I think may be called upon to bolster the midfield is Scott Sinclair. As I mentioned in my last article he impressed me recently with his footwork, so lets hope he can impress even further and help us to stand our ground in January and February.
Of course we always have David Silva and the currently injured Samir Nasri to call upon but then again Silva can't be in every place at the same time even though he does give it a good go! Nasri is good, he's fast on his feet, maybe not so hot in the tackle but if he can keep running with that ball and get it out of any danger zones then Silva, Nastasic or Kompany can take over from there!
Looking at the January transfer window, there is still some speculation that Isco, who is quite a little superstar in La Liga for Malaga, may join our ranks as a much needed midfield reinforcer. This would be excellent for us as we are going to need all hands on deck from te turn of the year. Again the Daniele de Rossi rumour is still lingering and all I qm going to say on that is 'one can hope.'
If the rumours are true, Aleksander Kolarov may be taking a trip to Juventus, which again would leave a gap in the left full back position. Kolarov would be missed. He can be quite an impact player, alongside Edin Dzeko. I hope this is just a rumour and nothing more.
Then there's the MCFC Academy. Karim Rekik, is pushing hard for a centre back slot with Joleon Lescott. Competition for places at centre back can only be a good thing.
Looking ahead to Saturday and the visit of Reading. Even though Reading got smashed 5-2 by Arsenal at the Madejski Stadium on Monday night coupled with the fact that they have only gained nine points from 17 games and conceded a 'league-worst' 36 goals along the way, one should never take them for granted. All it takes is one well placed lucky goal from them and a lack of concentration from us and their confidence will rise. This was evident when they played the rags and scored 3 times. They also racked up 3 against Fulham. Whatever happens, we cannot afford to lose anymore games.
Come On City!
all times East Manchester
Sa 22Dec 15h00 Reading, The Etihad, PL
We 26Dec 15h00 Sunderland, Stadium of Light, PL
Sa 29Dec 15h00 Norwich, Carrow Road, PL
Tu 01Jan 15h00 Stoke, The Etihad, PL
Sa 05 Jan 15h00 Watford, The Etihad, FAC
Su 13Jan 16h00 Arsenal, The Emirates, PL
Sa 19Jan 15h00 Fulham, The Etihad, PL
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road