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Who Should Start vs. West Ham United

City tries to recover after their no good, very bad trip to Russia

Laurence Griffiths

I'm typing this at work so I got to be fast here. I feel strongly about this lineup and especially this formation.

We still preface this exercise by stating unequivocally that Pellegrini is better at this than you and better at this than me. But for the love of christ, Tuesday hurt like a mother. I was so shocked, I didn't put up a five thoughts, partly because better analysis was available in the comments section in the PMT (nice job,Sonics097) and partly because how many ways can you say the following:

  • Yaya is playing phantom defense and Silva is doing less than that, therefore...
  • Fernando or Fernandinho is left with all of the defensive duties in midfield which...
  • is wonderful news for teams that choose to counterattack City (like, you know, everybody) leading to...
  • everybody and their mother questioning Manuel Pellegrini for staying with a 4-4-2 and two weak defensive mids (Yaya and Silva) supposedly to protect a 2-0 lead.
Yes, City got screwed by the ref and not just on the Doumbia dive. Dzeko got tripped in the first half; that was a PK. But even with the ref's awful judgment, City should have won that match going away and instead, they gave it away; awful marking, awful passing and godawful effort.

People, I am worried. West Ham is playing some damn good football. I suspect Chelsea is going to wax the rags something fierce which means tomorrow is the latest must-win match for us because if we don't win, we'll be 9-10 points behind Chelsea after 9 weeks making it exceedingly difficult to overtake them. There's always the FA and Cap One Cups.

Samir Nasri (miss that guy) is out and Lampard is questionable. Here's the lineup.

GK--Joe Hart.

LB--Aleksander Kolarov. He brings more to the table offensively than Gael and in this formation, we'll need some offense from the back.

CB--Vincent Kompany. That's two matches in a row where the Captain has been less than spectacular. He's still my POY.

CB--Eliaquim Mangala. Sort of fell asleep on the first CSKA goal which is alarming. He was terrific against Chelsea in an enormously important match. I haven't seen that kind of effort since.

RB--Pablo Zabaleta. Like Kolarov, with the formation I'm proposing, we'll need our best offensive RB and that's Pablo.

CDM--Fernando. He's currently enduring a before and after season; before the injury, he was a wall. Since then, more like a leaky wall. Perhaps with more help in the center, we'll see more of what we saw previously.

CDM--Fernandinho. I wrote he's been our most consistent all-around central midfielder and that certainly didn't change after Tuesday's match.

RM--James Milner. There is a risk in starting him game after game; like other Citizens listed above, his fine form from earlier this season is starting to tail off. That said, in this particular lineup, his width and overall solid defensive work will be necessary components if we're to win tomorrow.

CAM--Yaya Toure. Forget the defense, big man. You've got two central mids behind you along with Milner. The absolute center of the 4-2-3-1 will have free reign from distance, passing to attacking outside backs, making runs upfield or whatever he needs to do with his primary responsibility in this formation--attack.

LM--David Silva. Like Yaya, there is no need to concentrate so much on defense here with the two central mids we have. Merlyn can feel free to drift to the center of the pitch and work his magic without too much fear of repercussion. I doubt seriously he'll ever have as poor a passing match as he did this past Tuesday.

ST--Sergio Aguero. He's played a ton of minutes, yes, but he's also in the form of his young life and he'll have any number of fine passers behind him. He should certainly expect to be subbed out before the final whistle blows.

So a 4-2-3-1 with a lot of muscle, a ton of defensive presence, two of our best offensive players looking to get back in form are being relieved of defensive duties and we still have the best striker in England. I like this. I'm still scattered as hell from this past Tuesday but this is a formation I can live with.

Prediction: City 2-0.