Johnny On The Spot - September Preview
This is when your blood pumps, Planet Blue! The protracted distraction of a Premier League summer transfer window throughout August is consigned to the rubbish bin forever and while La Liga's hysterical President Javier Tebas's world crumbles around him, torpedeoed by PSG and the strong possibility of City Football Group legal action coming his way, a deadly serious Pep Guardiola prepares his men for a deadly serious, hectic September…
Liverpool, The Etihad Stadium, Saturday 9th September 12h30 BST, PL
This is a proper heavyweight clash, book-ending the month with our mission to Chelsea. Games against title contenders that City as flat track bullies have developed a constant failure to win in recent seasons. Considering the reinforced strength of Premier League sides over the summer and how the opening weeks have shaped up, it is not at all way too early to call this a must win six pointer. Two ferocious attacking sides… Two shaky defences? (copyright all hacks and pundits) Well. With Vincent Kompany at the controls City have only conceded 4 goals in the past 7 league games. The fact that we are now shorn of his organisational skills due to an international duty calf injury for what Pep at his presser today suggested would be a short period, The Blues must find the keys to locking the back door without Vinny. This might be a good time to deploy Yaya Toure to calm the waters. For their defensive part, Liverpool have also shipped only 4 goals in their past 7 league games and boast 5 clean sheets. The biggest difference between the two teams as I see it right now is that whereas Liverpool have picked up where they left off last season in scoring freely, City have lost some of the edge that secured a third placed finish through 17 goals in the last 5 league games of the last campaign, but we do look grittier. As I suggested in my August Review, I don't think Pep's redesigned City have quite clicked yet and it will be very interesting to see how the squad emerge from the international break in the knowledge that the players are all here to stay at least until January! Some scribes are suggesting that Kevin De Bruyne sitting deeper in the early games is a sign that Pep has adopted a more cautious approach by design after last season's experience. All things considered I think this is too close to call. I would be thrilled with three points and boy would it ignite our season. For that to happen, we need to see more cohesion from City. I think this game could boil down to who holds the defensive line the better. I maintain that we have the tools to beat anybody, but I am sensing a draw and a potentially high scoring one at that.
City 2 Liverpool 2
Feyenoord, Polman Stadion, Wednesday 13th September 19h45 BST, CL
No way is this season's Champions League Group F an easy ride for Manchester City and here comes the first big test. Eredivisie league leaders Feyenoord have started the season in a rich vein of form. They take no prisoners, particularly at home and have won 32 of their last 45 games. Their superb stadium is a tough place to go and Giovanni van Bronckhorst will have his men fired up. If City can weather the initial storm and can impose themselves upon the game, they have a good chance of securing crucial away points. All the better if The Blues can keep the raucous home support in check. This is the ideal hostile atmosphere to utilise our imminent camouflage third kit… Early in the competition, I'm going with a second draw of the month.
Feyenoord 2 City 2
Watford, Vicarage Road, Saturday 16th September 15h00 BST, PL
It's a bit too early to guage Marco Silva's Watford just yet. The side finished the last campaign in appalling fashion, slumping to 6 straight defeats and have started this one erratically, to say the least. Bristol City beat the Hornets at Vicarage Road in the League Cup last month and I fully expect to see another solid City away win on the domestic road.
Watford 0 City 3
West Bromwich Albion, The Hawthorns, Wednesday 20th September 20h00 BST, LC
I wonder how El Gaffer will approach the League Cup competition this year? Last year we took a second string mix of the old and the new to the Swamp only to bow out of the campaign bluntly despite playing some lovely stuff. Shouty Tony Pulis will no doubt be fired up for this one as he always is when playing at home to City but much will depend upon who Pep elects to select. Considering our next opponents, we should set out to win and win with plenty to spare.
West Brom 0 City 2
Crystal Palace, The Etihad Stadium, Saturday 23rd September 15h00 BST, PL
Frank de Boer's very public disagreement with The Eagles hierarchy over how he has tried to impose the Ajax system upon a Sam Allardyce squad needs no introduction and there is a strong possibility that the Dutchman will be fired by the time the side heads north to face City if he cannot seal a dramatic turnaround in fortunes across their next three games. Whether it's himself or the lurking Dougie Freedman who sends the Londoners out at The Etihad, City should win comfortably.
City 4 Palace 0
Shakhtar Donetsk, The Etihad Stadium, Tuesday 26th September 19h45 BST, CL
Eight games into their season and Paulo Fonseca's Shakhtar are on fire. The Ukrainian Premier League leaders are in a rich vein of form. Uncompromising and difficult to break down, they provide another stern test of our Champions League credentials. I am hoping that City will have built up a strong head of steam by the time this game begins. Whatever happens between now and then I am banking on home advantage to see us through.
City 2 Shakhtar 0
Chelsea, Stamford Bridge, Saturday 30th September 17h30 BST, PL
There's something not right behind the scenes at the Premier League champions if you ask me but Antonio Conte appears to be getting his men back on track after an opening day defeat at home to Burnley. We could have and should have beaten Chelsea many more times than we have done in recent seasons and they will be taking us on after trips to Stoke and Atletico Madrid. This time around I think we will edge it.
Chelsea 1 City 2
Don't Miss JB's September Review and October Preview on VMC early next month!
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