Arsenal have dropped points in three of their last five Premier League matches. The primary rivals won on Sunday closing the game to three points but having played one extra match. Referee apologies that come with no recourse. 100 allegations of financial breaches from the league levied at Manchester City. All of that, and more, as the top two clubs in England, prepare to face off for the first time in the Premier League this season.
For the second time in a few weeks with talked with Saul Garcia from SB Nation’s Bitter & Blue with a focus on the Premier League and the financial charges this time around.
TSF: Obviously, we could spend an entire Q&A article or a series of articles, discussing the Premier League’s 100 charges levied against Manchester City. Give us an overview of the general sense from the Bitter & Blue team after reading through the charges put forth by the league.
B&B: The sense over at BnB is one of curiosity. Both in the timing, breadth of charges, and even in the variety of charges. The Premier League did not have everything buttoned up and while some charges are serious and contain merit to investigate others were not so and it will make for a really interesting scope as we follow this trial over the next few years.
TSF: There is still so much left to unfold with these charges, but if you looked into your crystal ball what do you believe the outcome will be? What, if any, penalties will City receive?
B&B: The scope of the charges is what could be most serious and as many in the media have pointed out. The consequences could be really severe, but I believe the Premier League and City will settle this one. That way no one wins or loses. Either a huge fine, probably the biggest ever, or some sort of self-imposed charges would be the most likely outcome.
TSF: Since the takeover, Manchester City have won the Premier League six times and finished second four times, while the UEFA Champions League win eludes the club. How much do you believe Pep and the fans want another league title vs. the importance of winning the Champions League?
B&B: Well, I would say City fans want both. Given that is why Erling Haaland was brought in, the UCL, City have needed a true killer mentality to close out those moments where the club has faltered before as we saw in the Real Madrid clash most recently. That does not mean we give up on the Prem though, the charges have indulged a ’siege mentality’ in Pep and the team and they will use this to their advantage. City want both and Guardiola and the players have made that clear.
TSF: Despite Haaland’s prolific scoring returns, how much do City miss Jesus in their attack?
B&B: A decent amount. Jesus, to his credit, was perhaps more complete than Haaland, but that is why Pep works so diligently with Erling and as we saw this past game, he can add more than goals to the club. Jesus can really spread the opposing side and since Pep played him all over he was a Swiss knife for the club that they failed to replace.
TSF: Give us your predicted starting XI for the league fixture and a final scoreline.
B&B: Ederson / Ake-Dias-Laporte-Walker / Rodri-Bernardo Silva-De Bruyne / Grealish-Haaland-Mahrez
Final score: City win 2-1.
Thanks again to Saul Garcia and Bitter and Blue for talking with us.