The 'Now' Official Stoke City FC v Manchester City FC Match Preview
Date: Saturday 24 March 2012
KO: 1730 hrs (ESPN)
Venue: Britannia Stadium
Referee: Howard Webb
Well, it was a Friday night and everyone left me, and Rocco the pooch, to a quiet evening. So what could I do other than look at the game and put a few words down. But before I start, can I say ‘What a comeback‘! I had to miss the game on Wednesday and was left to watch it on TV with a couple of like-minded Blues, thirty neutrals and one United fan who, for a short person, sure carries that chip on his shoulder well. It was a tense affair and once the Chelsea goal went in, it brought the worse out of, not the United fan, but the rest of the congregation. I couldn’t believe my ears when ‘Come on you Chav’s/Rentboys’ came from the cheap seats at the back. When I hear people willing them on it just showed me how far we had come. Weren’t we once everyone’s favourite second team?Did You See That Sergio, Did You See It?
Anyway, with a few choice words it all went quiet and we went on to win the game in a manner that can only be described as ‘inspiring’. Carlos Tevez comes off the bench, (yes, he made it this time) closely followed by Edin Dzeko, and we take the game by the horns and turn it around. But the fans, oh those City fans, must’ve been heard all the way over at Old Trafford, it was amazing. Even through the 60 inch you felt as though you were there, singing and shouting, lifting the roof off the recently re-named Etihad stadium. It was awesome, and well done to all those who attended, just please make sure it happens next time and the time after. City’s 12th man can play a major part in the run-in and if we can throw a bit of hostility in there for the away teams, more’s the better.Ooooooh, watch your ball there Carlos!I Quite Like The Stokie’s
Onto the game then. Next up is Stoke, a club that I seem to have an affinity for. I’m not sure why, it could be the Gillingham link or it may have something to do with an old roomy who used to travel the length and breadth of the country to see a game. Strangely, he’d forsake his weekend with his Mrs to get to the match, how he got away with it I’ll never know. Either way, they feel like a similar club to ours and have now cemented their selves as Premier league regulars. Away though, on a cold wet night in winter, my feelings may change. Luckily, the weather report is favourable and the dwindling winter months give me that glimmer of hope, not to mention that it’s an early evening kick-off. The signs bode well (fingers crossed).So, How’ve We Both Been Doing?
It’s been a long season for Stoke so far, 46games played (same as us) until this point and I’d suggest that the Europa has taken a lot out of them. They are currently sitting 12th in the league on joint points with Everton and Sunderland, both teams that have beat us away from home this season. Recently, they’ve had a nasty run of games with Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs away, and after us they’ve got it a lot easier with Wigan, Wolves and Villa. Their last 6 have brought in 7 points with wins over Norwich and Swansea at home and a very respectable draw away to Spurs . The problem for them going into this game is that they’ll have had to play 3 games in 7 days, and against quality opposition, it can’t be good.
City though, who are battling for the league, seem to be coming out of the daze and realising what they’ve got to do. After a similar game toll as Stoke, we now see ourselves sat proudly in second place only a point behind the current champions of England. The last 2 results against Lisbon and Chelsea have shown real guile and it’s as if we’ve woken up and smelled the coffee. Being top, although a joy, doesn’t seem to suit us, just like it’s not suited us for many of the previous seasons where we’ve set a decent pace but dropped off as soon as the New Year comes along; not so bad this season though. Our away form has been predictably unpredictable and it’s this that needs to be improved if we are to mount a serious challenge, one that could see us crowned Champions for the first time in …....….. errrrrr, .............. how many years?'These Guy's Had What It Takes'
Saying that, looking deeper at the away games, we’re not actually as bad as you think. We’ve picked up 7 points from 12, whilst winning all of our home games (is that a new Premier League record?). Those numbers make impressive reading and it’s only the form of the 12 times Premier League champions that makes it pale into insignificance. Whether it be their good play or the fact that teams are beaten before they start has no significance, they are winning games and that’s the only thing that we will see at the end of the season; who’ll finish top?Tactics
What will we see? Since Mancini has come in we’ve ensured that no team gets anything over us in the first 20. This annoys me sometimes as it doesn’t give the players any urgency to show who they are. Many a time we’ve seen our players getting in good positions but not have the drive to put the ball in the back of the net, as if they’ve not quite switched on yet; still in a training session. Mancini has to set them up from the start against Stoke and go for the early goal to let them know who they are playing. If we get that then the likelihood is that they will be more focused on their forthcoming games and leave us to fight it out for the league.'Penny For Them, Roberto'
Stoke, on the other hand, will probably revert to their old tactics of lumping the ball up hoping for their lone man to get a hold and allow their 5 man midfield to push forward. In the reverse fixture, we seen a striker in the form of Cameron Jerome playing so deep that when he actually got past the half-way line his nose began to bleed. They gave us so much respect that day it was unbelieveable, I reckon they'd already nominated the person they wanted to swap shirts with on the way to the match, it was that apparent. Maybe this game will be different but, by Pulis’ comments, I wouldn’t bet on it.Ones To Watch
StokeYou can feck off with that shit, Lurch!
When I was a kid, playing in the under 16’s (and below) we had a fella who stood at 6 foot 1 and was built like a brick shithouse (had a fight with him once, kicked his arse). He was the dogs, near enough won everything in the box and if he didn’t he’d just barge people out of the way and put the ball in the back of the net. In the first instance, Crouch reminds me a little of that player and with Shotton or Delap's throw-in’s, we could have real problems. He does have a good touch as well so I’m hoping our improvised defensive system will be up for the challenge.City‘You say I want United to win every game? Not by the hair on my …………’
Who do you pick when you‘ve got Tevez back in the fold, just too hard to choose. However, the qualities that came out at Chelsea point me towards Nasri, and what better player to watch knowing he has the ability and skill to walk through teams. He’s not quite settled in yet but if you know anything about football, you know this guy is class. Can he do it on a regular basis; Stoke away must be the one where he needs to prove, surely?PredictionDirty Little Double - Tevez' Brace Secures Victory
Why am I so confident of winning this; I’m not sure? Is it Pulis’ comments where he once again talks about our 1st, 2nd or 3rd team and the money we‘ve spent, or was it our tumultuous victory over Chelsea; who knows? Things seem to have changed though and we’re now in a position where every last one of us knows what we have to do. Every player knowing that if they want to be classed as the new Premier League Champions, then they’ll have to give 100%. This is what’s needed, eeeez really, really important.
On top of that, Stoke are in a position where they’re playing their 3rd game in 7 days and when they’ve finished this game, they could be on for a 3 game winning streak against those around them; do they really want to all-out against us? Nobody takes these games lightly though, they have qualities in their own right but unless Taggart has given Pulis a personal call with a decent glass of Chablis on the go then I think we will take it by 2 goals.Stoke 0 – 2 Mighty Blues
Argentinean DoubleCome On City. The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Blue!