So on the back of Sunday’s excellent win at Stamford Bridge we return home for another challenge.
Welcome Manchester City eight points clear, unbeaten in the league and the highest goal scorers. I know it’s bit like trying to match their “full house” with “three of a kind” but we are unbeaten in nine games and field the Premierships joint meanest defence. Statistics don’t always paint the true picture and perhaps they have got in the way of the reality of recent results, particularly at home? The last two games saw us drop four points with draws, against Norwich and then Swansea, add to this similar results against Sunderland and The Mancs and perhaps we’ve could be forgiven for thinking that like a harassed parent whose kids are playing up he just wants to get away from home for a while!
Whatever the case they when you are in a situation with around a third of the season gone and where your performances in your own back yard are worse than they are on the road attention is bound to be focused on it, prompting the predictable” home improvement” headlines. Kenny therefore found himself having to address this in the pre mach press conference.
“The home form could be better, but the performances, apart from the second half against Sunderland, have been excellent. It is just a question of putting something on the end of the movement they have had. Some day we will do that”
I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think there is too much wrong with the way we are playing at home, we are creating stacks of chances, we just need to be patient. One can only speculate on the reasons for indifferent L4 form. Perhaps the players are under less pressure on the road, less weighed down by expectations of a demanding crowd. Anfield, gratifyingly, is never quick to turn on it’s players if things are going wrong however could the occasion, the nerves and the fact that the team is still bedding down play it’s part?. Then there are the visitors, is it any coincidence that we seem to underperform against newly promoted teams. Anfield, despite our recent form over the years, is still one of a handful of grounds that the new clubs look forward to visiting so perhaps we have to put up teams over performing and rising to the occasion? The obvious argument to that is hat we should still be professional and good enough to deal with it, for example do the Mancs have a similar problem when the new boys visit Old Trafford?
Today’s opponents have proved that at home there are no such problems and their 6-1 win at Old Trafford also suggests they are far from shy on their travels even though the recent defeat in Naples was a blow to Manchester City’s Champions League hopes. One gets the feeling that it won’t be long before they progress further in this tournament. It has been a story of significant improvement every season best exemplified by the last campaign when they qualified for the tournament for the first time and the won a trophy for the first time in ages From the side that used to regularly roll over home and away they visit us today, arguably as favourites to win. People will sniffily scoff and pour scorn that all this has been achieved on the back of massive losses which have been underwritten by their owners as if other club’s fans never complain about lack of investment in their team. City fans have been the butt of so much ridicule and misfortune over the last two or three decades it’s hard to begrudge them the clear enjoyment they are experiencing at the moment, if only because this brasses off their neighbours!
Prediction? Perhaps Manchester will be smarting from Naples but whatever the case we need to start hard and fast and put them on the back foot. One wonders how Kenny will play this? Will he keep the same side that did so well last Sunday or make changes? Chances will come however they need to be taken as the odds and stats point to City also scoring. The defence especially will need to be on it’s guard even though it’s a home game and I wonder if we’ll play an extra man in midfield, from the start at least? Whatever he case I see no reason why we can’t build on Sunday, every player that was interviewed after the game, whilst welcoming the win, also stressed the need to improve at home. This suggests the desire is there and with Newcastle and The Mancs drawing we have a good opportunity to make ground. 2-1 to us.