This was another match I watched on the steam radio. This time though it was a nail biter. We started with that most glorious of professional footballing incompetences, the injury during warm-up. Let us at this point remind ourselves that one of the main objectives of a warm-up in any physical activity is to get the muscles in a state of readiness for action. You do a warm-up to prevent injury. Footballers do warm-ups, athletes do warm ups, ballerinas do warm ups and musicians do warm ups (at least the serious ones do). Even a decrepit old goat like me does warm ups before playing anything tricky on the piano. But you do also have to follow some rules about relaxation and not striving too much or you can easily do more harm than good. Dzeko managed to injure himself in the warm up. Brilliant.
So with a few minutes to go our three main strikers, because unsurprisingly the fragile Jovetic was also injured, were all unavailable for selection and City yet again had to put our talented but as yet lightweight youngster Pozo into the fray from the start. Zabaleta then replaced Pozo on the bench.
City seemed to have overall control which we expected but Leicester were undaunted and through Vardy they gave our defence a good work-out. Eventually Nasri found himself able to put a cross in for Lampard standing about two metres from goal in the six yard box. Judging by the lack of Leicester players willing to mark him or even stand anywhere near him, Frank must have suffered a sudden attack of leprosy. So untroubled by defenders Lampard deftly guided the ball into the net for 0-1. Lampard a mid-field player never known for his speed, has now equalled the scoring exploits of 175 goals in the Premier League by Arsenal’s incredibly quick and superbly talented Thierry Henri . That’s ridiculous isn’t it? Perhaps not. It means that quickness of thought trumps fleetness of foot.
There’s no point in discussing any of the further action because this was one of those largely dull games where Leicester demonstrated the usual critical weakness of clubs who find themselves near the bottom of any league: they can’t take advantage of the scoring positions they create. Leicester currently just don’t know how to score against a reasonable defence but otherwise put up a good show against the Premier League Champions. The last time Leicester scored more than two goals was when they played the Red Lion at home and won 5-3. I did say “reasonable defence” though. City saw the game out and although the City fans could be heard singing throughout the game, I have no doubt they too were relieved to hear the final whistle.
So what to do about our lack of strikers? The pundits say they would be flabbergasted If City didn’t buy a striker in the January window but before that opens we have several games close together. For what it’s worth here’s my solution:
We clearly need a physical presence up front. We need someone we don’t necessarily rely upon to track back much but has the strength to repel the bullying advances of the average premier league centre back. Ideally someone with good skills but built by that man who specialised in the construction of the famous brick out-house. That person does need to have a reasonable scoring record too otherwise we’d fall into the reputation trap which so beset Chelsea last year when their forwards (like Torres) who ought to have been able to score twenty or thirty a season but just couldn’t.
We have such a person on our books: Ya Ya Touré.
I would play him right up front, Pozo just behind (which is his best position anyway) with Fernando and Fernandinho in the defensive midfield positions as they did so successfully against Roma. Defensively, the injury to Kompany isn’t as much of a problem as we’ve been managing without him for some time anyway. I’d choose between the Nasri/Silva and Nasri/Navas paring at different stages of the game while Silva finds his top form and bring in the reliable Frank Lampard when necessary.
Overall though I’m not too bothered. We have the talent and enough in-form players to have a good run over the Christmas period when Chelsea have to play Stoke, Southampton and Spurs away from Stamford Bridge.
Who knows? – it might be City who are on top of the table at the turn of the year and just as significantly some of the airheads masquerading as knowledgeable football T.V. pundits might begin to recognise that we aren’t and have never been a one-man team.