As we often do here at TSF, we check in with our friends from the other Premier League blogs in the family. Today, it’s Bitter & Blue, our Manchester City supporting mates. Saul Garcia give us the inside scoop on City’s upcoming transfer window, looked back at the first half, and shared his thoughts on the match.
TSF: 8 points clear just beyond the halfway point, are you happy with how the first 20 matches have gone for Manchester City?
B&B: Yes, I think all City fans will be very happy after those 20 matches. For all the talk that City had no striker it hasn’t bee a real issues. I think Pep Guardiola has seen it as a challenge and that challenge has helped get City top of the table.
TSF: What does the January transfer window look like for City? Do you expect any big moves? Depth moves? Or for City to stand pat?
B&B: I expect nothing in January. Pep has said as much. Most windows have had some movement, Laporte notable among them, but this year it seems City will stand pat and go all out in the summer for a striker and maybe more.
TSF: Speaking of transfers, Jack Grealish had a relatively slow first half of the season? What’s going on there?
B&B: It’s typical for new City signings. Rodri and Joao Cancelo had similar issues, and they are now thriving. Adaptability could have been quicker, but I have no doubt Grealish will be a success at City as early as this Spring. Injury issues also showed a little so I think we can cut him a break for now.
TSF: Player safety, injuries, and rotation have been a hot topic this festive period. I haven’t seen too much from Pep Guardiola talking about it, however. How has City handled the fixture congestion. Surely having a second starting-quality 11 helps, right?
B&B: Yea without a doubt, though do keep in mind City only have 17 senior players, fewer than most clubs and the injury bug has impacted all clubs. it’s why Pep Guardiola is worth every penny, the youngsters that have stepped in have done a tremendous job, notably Cole Palmer. Add stringent covid protocols and high vaccine rates and we see a City team avoiding this covid disaster for the most part that has plagued so many teams. It’s an organizational success.
TSF: How do you expect Pep to set City up tomorrow?
B&B: A bit different than usual considering Rodri will probably be out and Cancelo while in, has suffered a terrible assault recently, so it will impact the starting XI. I do see a similar team lining up, Ederson, Cancelo, DIas, Laporte, Ake or Zinchenko. In Midfield, I see Gundogan, De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Up top, 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 gave City the most trouble?
B&B: Our fullbacks or lack of defensive midfielder have come up a few times this year and bit us back hard. City have struggled with pacy wingers, and in Saka and Martinelli, Arsenal have that. Add to that no one in the Prem knows Pep better than Arteta, even if he won’t be there, and Arsenal could cause several problems.
TSF: And a prediction for the match?
B&B: That said a surging De Bruyne and three excellent players up top should be enough to cause Arsenal damage. 2-1 City.
Thanks so much to Saul and to Bitter & Blue!