Johnny On The Spot - November Preview
October's exercise in consolidating City`s standing in 3 competitions more than went to plan. Here comes a tricky November…
Napoli, Stadio San Paulo, Wednesday 1st November 20h45 CET, CL Group F
November spawned a monster? Manchester City-Napoli Part One last month was a belter of a game and we can expect similar thrills and spills for tonight's sequel. The challenge this game represents for Pep Guardiola's men is immense. Not only are the Serie A leaders one hell of a force to be reckoned with in their infrequently demented stadium, no English side has ever won there. The Blues in our fledgling Champions League campaign, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have all failed across the past 7 years. Daunting, and I would suggest the toughest assignment of any English club in Europe this season to date. It is however worth heeding the lavish praise afforded to City by shrewd Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri. This astute tactician doesn't do mind games and calls it as he sees it. The lazier hacks and pundits still float the idea that City have a fragile defence but Sarri perceives things differently of a Manchester side that has only conceded 12 goals in 21 matches. 'Nobody else has dealt with our pressing the way they did' he said this week of City's recent energy sapping 2-1 victory in town. I think the case for the defence will be absolute tonight. The one that performs the better will edge a tie which Napoli must win. I foresee for City, if everyone stays focused, the securing of a more than satisfactory point.
Napoli 2 City 2
Arsenal, The Etihad Stadium, Sunday 5th November 14h15 GMT, PL
In purely human terms, watching the grand Arsenal social experiment across recent seasons has been utterly absorbing. Not so much the flash-dash-splash of their erratic football, moreso the rabid squabbling and in house finger pointing alternating with proclamations of joy that come in and out like the tide with every setback or sparkling win. If you though the tension of an Arsehole Whinger presser was fraught, then the wonderful soap opera that is Arsenal Fan TV is a gift that keeps on giving. I am convinced that the affable guy who runs the show is a psychiatrist and we welcome the AFTV team to Manchester with open arms. But that's as far as any sympathy goes. There is a bitterly entitled air that often surfaces around Arsenal that I really don't like and hope to goodness never materialises at Manchester City. Of late, the Gunners have been steadily building up a head of steam across three competitions and as ever under Wenger have some fine footballers who on any given day can hurt you. Yet there remains a clear and present mental fragility within his squad to exploit. If City score early I can see us dishing out an overdue pasting, payback for our last domestic defeat over 6 months ago at Wembley.
City 3 Arsenal 0
Leicester City, King Power Stadium, Saturday 18th November 15h00 GMT, PL
New manager syndrome might yet play a part in what I reckon will be one of our more difficult contests this month. The straight faced, defence first Claude Puel is now at the controls of the self-harm Foxes and it is highly likely that he will be drilling some far from exciting tactical nous into a squad that has lost direction since an unlikely and never to be repeated title triumph a couple of seasons ago. City are certain to drop points here and there at some stage of the campaign and I have a nagging feeling that Puel might yet divise a way to peg Pep's swashbucklers back.
Leicester 1 City 1
Feyenoord, The Etihad Stadium, Tuesday 21st November 19h45 GMT, CL Group F
It's all gone horribly wrong for the previously imperious Feyenoord after City thrashed them in their own backyard in September. They have slid down the Eredivisie at an alarming rate and shipped 2 more Champions League defeats. With only one Dutch Cup and league win to their name since that harrowing defeat to The Blues, much of course will depend upon what happens on the night of Group F's Match Day Four as to how the two sides line up, but in all honesty, I cannot see past another stroll in the park for City.
City 4 Feyenoord 0
Huddersfield Town, The John Smith`s Stadium, Sunday 26th November 16h00 GMT, PL
David Wagner has done a terrific job with Huddersfield, there is no doubt, but at the time of writing I would stop short of declaring them one of the success stories of the season to date, despite the Manchester United Free Press declaring them world beaters after the rags afforded The Terriers their first win in 2 months. They are a combative side, particularly on home turf with ex Blue Aaron Mooy the pick of the bunch, but they are too limited in key areas. I predict a patient City win.
Huddersfield 0 City 2
Southampton, The Etihad Stadium, Wednesday 29th November 20h00 GMT, PL
Mauricio Pellegrino's Southampton are an oddball mid-table side. Their typically attritional draws and narrow defeats exemplify the turgidity that prevails in a lot of Premier League fixtures. Three odd goal wins by the end of October are nothing to write home about and they will come into this one having this month faced uncompromising Burnley then the two unpredictable MerseySlide teams. City to win handsomely.
City 4 Southampton 0
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