As we often do here at TSF, we check in with our friends from other Premier League blogs in the family. Today is Bitter & Blue, our Manchester city supportive companions. Saul Garcia gives us the scoop on City’s next one transfer window, returned to the first half and shared his thoughts on the game.
TSF: 8 points ahead just after the halfway point, are you satisfied with the way Manchester City’s first 20 matches have gone?
B&B: Yes, I think all City fans will be very happy after these 20 matches. Despite all the talk that City didn’t have a forward, that hasn’t been a real issue. I think Pep Guardiola saw it as a challenge and that challenge helped put City at the top of the table.
TSF: What does the January transfer window look like for City? Do you expect big moves? Is the depth moving? Or for City to stand up?
B&B: I do not expect anything in January. Pep said so. Most of the windows have had movement, notably Laporte, but this year it looks like City will stand up and go all out this summer for a striker and maybe more.
TSF: Speaking of transfers, Jack Grealish had a relatively slow first half of the season? What is happening here?
B&B: It’s typical of City’s new recruits. Rodri and Joao Cancelo had similar issues, and they are now thriving. Adaptability could have been faster, but I have no doubt that Grealish will be a hit at City this spring. The injury issues have also shown up a bit, so I think we can give him a break for now.
TSF: Player safety, injuries and rotation have been a hot topic during this festive season. I haven’t seen Pep Guardiola talk too much about it, though. How did City deal with aircraft congestion. Having a second starting grade 11 surely helps, right?
B&B: Yes without a doubt, but keep in mind that City only have 17 senior players, less than most clubs and the injury virus has taken a toll on all clubs. that’s why Pep Guardiola is worth every penny, the young people who stepped in did a great job, especially Cole Palmer. Add in strict covid protocols and high vaccination rates and we see a city team avert this mostly covid catastrophe that has plagued so many teams. It is an organizational success.
TSF: How do you want Pep to organize City tomorrow?
B&B: A little different than usual given that Rodri will probably be out and Cancelo on the inside has recently suffered a terrible assault so this will have an impact on the starting XI. I see a similar team lining up, Ederson, Cancelo, DIas, Laporte, Ake or Zinchenko. In the midfield I see Gundogan, De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Above, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez. A more than good enough team.
TSF: Say Arsenal beat City tomorrow. What happened? What “weakness” did Arsenal exploit? Which Arsenal players have caused City the most problems?
B&B: Our full-backs or the lack of a defensive midfielder have appeared a few times this year and have hit us hard. City have struggled with quick wingers, and in Saka and Martinelli, Arsenal have that. Add to that that no one in the Prem knows Pep better than Arteta, even though he won’t be there, and Arsenal could pose several problems.
TSF: And a prognosis for the match?
B&B: That said, a rapidly expanding De Bruyne and three excellent players should be enough to cause damage to Arsenal. 2-1 City.
Many thanks to Saul and Bitter & Blue!