CC: I pegged City to win the title this year, and still think they are the favorites to do so. How confident are the supporters right now? Are you more worried about Chelsea or Liverpool?
Bitter and Blue: It's been a truly wild season. If you asked me this question a week ago, I'd have probably had a slightly more pessimistic tune. But, Villa pulled out a surprising win over Chelsea and now the City supporters are starting to feel a bit more confident. As a Cit y supporter, I'd like to think that we are the current favorites, but the margins are so small that we could be having a different discussion after a few more matches. I think City have the best squad, but we easily have the worst remaining fixture list.
What worries me most about Chelsea is their injury record. One of our writers (the awesome shuddertothink, definitely check his statistical work out) wrote this piece a few days ago which shows how Chelsea have fared much better in the health department over the other title contenders. Arsenal seem to be fading and have chronic injury issues and City have had injuries at key moments to key players (Aguero, Fernandinho, Kompany, Nastasic). If Chelsea's most important players remain healthy, as they have been all season, they will always be in it. Liverpool's advantage is their schedule. It's quite a nice run-in for them, and I fully expect them to take all 3 points against City at Anfield, too. Their defense is shaky, but that midfield and attack are frightening. Suarez plays like a shark that smells blood in the water and Sturridge just can't stop scoring.
CC: FFP is in the news again with Richard Scudamore saying they will destroy clubs in the Championship. Given that the rules seem mostly designed from stopping anyone from pulling a Manchester City again, what do you think of the rules? Do you think it will ever be possible for a club to rise from their station if they go into effect?
B&B: I'm not a fan of FFP, but my view has less to do with being a City fan and more to do with the desire for the old guard in European football to be knocked off their perch. It's hard to see a team pulling a City or a PSG under FFP, but it's equally unlikely to imagine a mid-table team ever challenging for top honors regularly either. FFP won't just stop teams from inheriting the good fortunes of rich, foreign investors, but it will put a clamp on teams who don't make as much money or make a few bad moves in the transfer market. In Spain, for example, the TV money is so unevenly distributed that the gap between Real + Barca and the rest of the league will only continue to grow. Atletico are up there at the moment but do we really see that lasting beyond the current squad of players? In England, rich clubs aside, Spurs are the only team that have really made a push to break into the Champions League from mid-table, and even they struggle to get there. They've had to spend to even attempt it, though. It's simply realistically impossible for a team to challenge the top clubs without spending money in the modern age. United and Arsenal make too much money and FFP will just lock everything in place. Part of the reason why I became a City fan living in the States in the first place was because I didn't want to support the same old boring clubs that are always at the top. I didn't imagine we would one day become one of the richest clubs in the world, but I knew there was more to the Premier League than those same 4-5 teams. So from that rebellious point of view, I very much dislike FFP, but I'm also by no means an expert on the subject. That being said, who knows how strictly it will be enforced, too. I suppose we will find out soon.
PS- an additional point- how is it possible to abide by FFP for clubs that yo-yo between the Premier League and the Championship? Fulham might be in this position soon, and I can't imagine they will be too happy with having to meet these regulations while getting vastly different sums of revenue between leagues, as well. Just seems like too much of a mess to me.
CC: How bad do you expect to pummel Fulham this weekend? If I curl up into a ball and yell, "Not in the face!" Will you go easier on us?
B&B: Unfortunately for Fulham fans, I think this one could be quite bad. Then again, they did get a huge moral boost in beating Newcastle so perhaps they can ride some of that momentum into this match. The game seems to be the type where City annihilate their opponents at home and that's sort of how I see this one ending up. I think it may not be toooooo bad because Pellegrini will likely have an eye on the Manchester derby next week, so if City take a comfortable lead, I think the foot will come off the gas.