This week's EPL match pits the Toffees against the Sky Blues from up north. Once again Nayir from Bitter and Blue graciously answered some of our questions.
RBM: As it stands, City is tied with Chelsea at the top of the table. Do you see them Successfully defending their title at the end of the season?
It's almost too close to call but I'll tip City. What can I say? I'm a sucker for my sky blues. That, and, Chelsea enjoyed a near fairy tale first 3 months of the season and I can't see them getting back to those ways. Not that they don't have the ability, but injuries will crop up, certain players will hit patches of poor form, and bounces won't go their way; that's just football. I think we've only seen glimpses of City's best because key players have been in and out of the squad all season. And we've won 2 of the last 3 titles, so this is a battle-hardened squad.
The January transfer window is now open. Is there any particular player(s) that you believe could play a role down the stretch in helping your team hoist the trohpy again? Any Everton players in particular?
I don't see City making any moves other than the possibility of Bony, who seems set for the Etihad. Should a move for him fall through then someone else will be targeted, and Benteke and Mandzukic have led that sector of the rumor mill. Whichever player does arrive, I wouldn't expect a significant impact as they still wouldn't be first choice striker, but it will definitely help patch up some holes in the depth department. Aguero and Jovetic have a long history of injuries and Dzeko has been getting hurt this year as well. We can't afford to head into the home stretch of the EPL and CL with the possibility of having zero fit strikers.
Sergio Aguero has been out of commission for over a month now and the most recent news has him targeting the January 18th match against Arsenal as a return. Who has stood up and taken his place and how would you rate their performance?
It's been largely striker by committee since his absence. Dzeko started a game or two but then got hurt, Jovetic as well and now he is back, we saw young 18 year old Jose Angel Pozo out there a few times (playing out of position) and we also saw James Milner play utility man and set up as a sort of false 9, a la what Barcelona have done in the past. No one has really stood out much, however. Pozo was clearly out of his league which is understandable, and Jovetic's form has been streaky. Milner performed about as well as you could expect an English midfielder to be at striker. But, the squad's attack did seem to flow better in general with Milner up top, with the return of David Silva in the hole behind him a key as well.
Matija Nastasic was the club's young player of the year two seasons ago. Now rumors have him heading out the door as he has fallen out of favor with Manuel Pellegrini. What could have happened to cause Pellegrini to lose faith in the young Serb?
It's honestly a mystery that no City fan can figure out. We do know that his last 1+ year has been plagued by injury, but even still he seems nowhere near making the substitutes' bench on most nights. It certainly doesn't help that Martin Demichelis has been largely a great success for City since making his move from Malaga, but even still, Nastasic doesn't seem to be in Pellegrini's plans at all. We all wish he would stay and make it back into the squad, but it doesn't seem likely at this point.
Several months ago it was thought that Frank Lampard had signed with Major League Soccer's NYCFC (also controlled by City's owner, Sheikh Mansour) and that he was to be on loan in Manchester for the start of the EPL campaign. On New Year's Eve, it was announced that his loan spell was extended to the end of the season. How much of an impact has Frank Lampard had on the club's success this year and was it a wise move to extend the loan deal?
He's surprisingly had a huge impact and as such it was very wise to extend his deal from a footballing standpoint. From a PR standpoint it's a complete nightmare but that's another discussion for another time. Yaya Toure is now off at the African Cup so there is a hole in the midfield and having Lampard stick around is huge for that matter itself. We play Chelsea at the end of the month too, so that will make for some more interesting headlines...
Do you have a prediction for the upcoming match? Are there one or two key players from each club that stick out as potential difference makers?
I can't really see City losing this one. I've no idea what the score will be but I'll go with 3-0 to City. We're just in great form at the moment while Everton aren't. Silva is the obvious candidate to the be playmaker for City, but Gael Clichy could quietly be another. The Frenchman has been in wonderful form in both defense and attack over the last month, and much of City's success lately has come down his left flank thanks to his contributions. For Everton, the center of the park should be the point of emphasis with Toure out of this match. City should have the advantage elsewhere in the final two thirds of the pitch, but the middle of the park could be taken by the Toffees.
Thanks again to Nayir for taking the time to answer our questions. Looking forward to a great match.