Johnny On The Spot - February Preview
#MINDTHEGAP. February dawns to the sound of everyone associated with Premier League Commanders-in-Chief Manchester City debating the standard of English referees as quicksilver City forwards line up to be scythed down in a continuing series of unsanctioned fouls. Is this symptomatic of a form of inverted totalitarianism engulfing the FA and FL in the wider conspirational scheme of David Gill's alleged puppetry or is it merely that the refs are rubbish guesswork merchants and not fit enough to keep up with the City speedsters? We've got 5 more big games imminent this month, 4 of them on the road and if the horror tackles dished out to Blues by the likes of Alli, Kane, Bennett, Dann, Cook, Puncheon, Murphy, McClean and Phillips across the past 2 months continue, then surely sooner or later one of these chancers has got to be sent off…
Burnley, Turf Moor, Saturday 3rd February 12h30 GMT, PL 2017-18 Match Number 37
Don't be under any illusions Blues and ignore the public title defeatism of the Stretford Galacticos' Maureen. There is still a long way to go in this campaign and we are shipping injuries. City down their breakfasts and head deeper into Lancashire to start the Valentines month with a loveless half past high noon showdown with Sean Dyche's uncompromising Burnley. It's a measure of the Premier League's predictable unpredictability that the Clarets will kick off in 7th place, 15 points off the top four whilst being 12 points off the bottom 3 clubs. It's to their credit that so many better resourced clubs lie in their wake behind them. That said, the trajectory has been generally downwards for Dyche and his men in 2018. They haven't won a football game since 2 narrow home wins over Watford and Stoke in early December and during a wretched run have lost all their home games since then as well as having been thrashed out of the FA Cup by City. Cast your eyes across Burnley's results and they read like a binary numbers spreadsheet. They don't score many and they don't concede many. The City juggernaut enters this game in free scoring, albeit profligate form. If Raz Sterling starts nailing the gilt edged chances somebody is going to get a severe pasting. Pep Guardiola's game management is everything in this injury ravaged phase so I am banking on a professional 0-2 away win in keeping with Burnley's narrow 'defence first' squeaks although an overdue rout would be more than welcome!
Burnley 0 City 2
Leicester City, Etihad Stadium, Saturday 10th February 17h30 GMT, PL 2017-18 Match Number 38
This has been a frustratingly erratic season for Leicester City to date much to the immense chagrin of Le Boss Claude Puel. The pattern of an all too brief mini run of wins breaks down into a rash of draws and defeats repeatedly as we have just witnessed at Everton. Factor in Riyad Mahrez's latest show of mardarsery and the Foxes will be arriving from the midlands an unsteady ship depending upon how they handle resurgent Swansea this weekend. The key factor for the Blues this month is that despite the brevity of 28 days, City are actually going to benefit from 5 to 7 days preparation between games three times in a row. Something to savour and benefit from before the next big push. I think we'll manage this one well enough and have too much for Leicester. Looking to Aymeric Laporte to pocket Steptoe Vardy.
City 3 Leicester 0
FC Basel, Saint Yakob Park, Tuesday 13th February 19h45 GMT, Champions League R16 1st Leg 2017-18 Match Number 39
Let's be careful out there. Raphael Wicky's men are in a rich vein of form and hot on the Young Boys trail in the Swiss League which sounds awful. They are tuning sides for fun of late and secured their Round of 16 progress with a hard fought victory over the rags ahead of their winter break that ends early this month. And that is where I believe they will come unstuck. Very often sides on the continent full of momentum exit such a pause with cold feet and struggle to get going. The City juggernaut provides the 3rd game of the second half of their season and present a stern test. The Blues to get the job done in straight forward style.
FC Basel 0 City 3
Wigan, DW Stadium, Monday 19th February 19h55 GMT, FA Cup R5 2017-18 Match Number 40
Make no mistake, this will NOT be the cakewalk some are predicting. The League One flyers and erstwhile City nemesis have absolutely nothing to lose and the Blues have a Wembley cup final looming large in our season's next instalment. Pep will surely rotate his effective but will be mindful of the speed and physicality that the lower league likes of Bristol and Wolves have pestered us with already in this campaign. Wigan will be no different a proposition. It will be interesting to see how the big gobbed Devante Cole fairs against us. His comments upon leaving City suggest he will have a point to prove. I expect a close encounter of the third division kind, hopefully without extra time and penalties.
Wigan 1 City 2
Arsenal, Wembley Stadium, Sunday 25th February 17h30 GMT, League Cup Final 2017-18 Match Number 41
Here we go. Part One of the Laandaarn Taarn double header with the bitterest group of entitled anti-City foamers that we have encountered since HH Sheikh Mansour came to town and rapidly didn't get bored almost 10 years ago. Such is the venom that Arsehole Whinger harbours for Manchester City that he has even taken this season to expressing arslikhan toward the Stretford transfer champions and how the debt laden monolith in their shabby, creaking old ground who once dominated the market unopposed, go admirably about their business. Incredulous nonsense of course but neatly side stepping the fact that his own club are loaded and only a continual nosedive interspersed with rapidly evaporating revivals has forced them to spend this winter. I fully expect a feisty, entertaining contest in which City will prevail with the added incentive of oweing Arsenal one following their former superstar's defeat of us in last year's FA Cup semi-final. It could go either way, however. Not on the pitch but on the social experiment that is Dr. Robbie's ArsenalFan TV. Meltdown or Marvelling. There will be no in-betweens and I predict the former.
Arsenal 1 City 3
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