Three Questions for Manchester City with Bitter and Blue

Richard Heathcote

This week's three questions is with sonics097 from Bitter and Blue. Be sure to go back there to read the Q&A I did with them as well.

Is overconfidence something Fulham can exploit? City would seem to have all the confidence going into this fixture. I sat down with Bitter and Blue to discuss this match and the City season so far.

CC: City has looked like the best team in the world when playing at home. But when on the road, they have been totally different. The last two road games though (Leicester City and Bayern Munich) they've been much better. Which team do you expect to show up on Saturday and should Fulham feel they have any chance at all?

Bitter and Blue: I think we'll see a much better 'away' City on Saturday. Recent results away from home have been good and with that the team's confidence looks like it is growing. Aside from Jovetic, the new signings seem to have completed any sort of gelling process they needed at this point, and so things are looking smooth. I think one of the biggest keys to our last two away performances has been the superb performances of James Milner. I hope that Pellegrini starts him again as James can be the type of player to drive a team with his work rate in away matches. Fulham should feel that they have a chance though, provided they get their tactics right. There's two ways to stop City: hit us with a high press and clog the center of the pitch (which causes us to buckle and we can lose), or sit into a very, very tight defensive shell, restrict space, and use the counter effectively. In this case you'd be most likely playing for a draw, but Villa, Sunderland, and Cardiff worked this strategy well and came out with wins. I also think it's about timing; the longer a scoreless away match drags on, the more vulnerable and frustrated City get. If Fulham can come out full-throttle early on, it has the potential to be a very tricky match for City.

CC: With Aguero out, how confident do you feel that City can keep scoring goals? Is it going to be mainly Dzeko playing in his absence or is the team going to switch up formations and strategies?

B&B: I think City will get by okay without Aguero, but there's certainly less of a chance that we score as much as we have been doing. Without Aguero, City will be missing a predator in the box, that is for sure. But possibly more importantly, Alvaro Negredo loses his strike partner that he has developed a lot of chemistry with. How Negredo links with Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic remains to be seen, so I don't know what to expect there. Dzeko is highly inconsistent and hasn't played much with Negredo, while Jovetic is only just returning from a long injury spell so we won't know what to expect there in terms of fitness, match sharpness, and comfort with the other players in his new team. Given that Jovetic plays a more comparable style to Aguero than Dzeko does, it would seem that he would be a better natural fit for Negredo and Pellegrini's system overall. However, I'd expect Dzeko to get his chance up top first. If Pellegrini has an alternative tactic in mind this will be the first time we see it. With Pablo Zabaleta and Micah Richards also out with injuries, City don't have any natural RBs available so Pellegrini may opt for something a bit different to fit the personnel he's left with.

CC: What's your expectations for this season? Would you be satisfied with a the round of 16 in Champions League, a top four finish, and deep runs in both cup competitions? Or do you feel you need to win something this year?

B&B: I think City need to get back on track this season in terms of winning trophies. I think it's important for the club to grow a winning culture so trophies will be paramount to meeting that end. I'd certainly like to win the league title this year and I think it's definitely doable as Arsenal and Chelsea both look vulnerable and it's hard to see Liverpool being back into the title race just yet, though they are on fire at the moment. As for the Champions League, I think any City fan would have had the minimum set at advancing past the group stage. A deep run would be very nice but as City now have Barcelona ahead of them, I'm not sure too many fans will be upset with an exit at this point. However, I think City have the talent and manager to mount a serious run, despite the task ahead. With just Sunderland, West Ham, and United left in the Capital One Cup Cit we have to consider ourselves favorites in that competition so we should be aiming to win that one as well. I expect the club to do so, anyways.

Projected lineup, and score prediction

B&B: I expect City to line up with: Hart (I think he's going to be back), Milner, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy; Fernandinho, Toure, Silva, Nasri; Dzeko, Negredo. Given our injuries at the moment this could certainly look different on Saturday if Pellegrini opts for different tactics. I think City will win this one 3-0 but as mentioned above, opportunity is certainly there for Fulham.

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