Manchester City, the 2013/14 English Champions, host Queens Park Rangers (QPR) at the Etihad Stadium in Matchweek 36 of the 2014/15 Barclays Premier League season, looking to make it four wins on the trot when Chris Ramsey’s men come to town this Sunday.
City, having relinquished their hard-earned crown to Chelsea, have little to play for, although they would want to finish second or third on the Premier League table, that will assure them of direct qualification into the group stages of next season’s UEFA Champions League.
The Londoners, on the other hand, have very little chance of avoiding relegation, as they need 9 points from their remaining fixtures and hope that the results elsewhere go their way. However, they first need to win at the Etihad this Sunday afternoon, to keep themselves in contention.
Will Ramsey come up with a tactical masterclass to outwit the tried and tested Manuel Pellegrini? Or, will the Citizens hand a hammering to the Rangers on their way into the Championship next season? Read on… to know more.
The Sky Blues have garnered plenty of delight over Sergio Aguero’s majestic goal scoring form that has seen the affable Argentine striker score 5 goals in his side’s last four games.
|Sergio Aguero is a special player, at least in the eyes of City supporters|
He scored a simply magnificent goal against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane last Sunday, taking his tally to 22 league goals for the season and put himself in pole position to win the Premier League golden boot.
Apart from their No.1 striker’s form, City, as a team, have not been coruscating by any stretch of imagination: their defense has been opened up on a number of occasions; they had to give sweat and blood to overcome Aston Villa at the Etihad; and last weekend it was Joe Hart, who saved the blushes for his side.
On another note, however, City have been able to win ugly, which is not unacceptable at this stage of the season.
The likes of Fernandinho, who earlier this week got selected for the Brazil national team to take part in the Copa America which begins in June, Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov, have stepped up their performance levels and been crucial to their side’s recent triumphs.
The rest of the team, which includes David Silva, Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis, have done well in patches, but the performances – unconvincing, lacking cohesion, exuding lethargy and not showing enough desperation – have epitomized the kind of season City have endured.
Looking beyond the negatives, however, a majority of the City supporters have liked Pellegrini setting his side up in the 4-2-3-1 system, which they believe suits their side more than the Chilean’s favored 4-4-2 does.
It remains to be seen if the former Malaga manager decides to play two strikers for Sunday’s game, which would not be goofy given that Wilfried Bony should have regained fitness and City, at the Etihad, are expected to dominate possession, unless they decide to let QPR have the ball and challenge them to break the home side down.
For their own good, the Citizens need to score that first goal early on in the game. The visitors, given the situation they are in at the moment, will show determination and desire to do themselves justice, so Pellegrini’s side cannot expect things to be easy.
It is difficult to anticipate what sort of a game it could turn out to be, as Ramsey’s men need to go for it and cannot afford to let City dictate terms to them.
However, having said that, an open game will favor the hosts and Pellegrini, who will be confident of outscoring their opponents, if they decide to come out and play fair.
Though you expect City to register a straightforward victory, I doubt them having it all their own way. QPR’s situation will make for an intriguing viewing and force the Citizens to not take things lightly, as they have a propensity to not be completely switched on in games of this kind.
The Londoners have endured another torrid campaign that has seen them struggle to win games away from Loftus Road, where they have been decent for a relegation-threatened outfit.
Performance wise, you got to say that the Rangers have not been as bad as their season’s away record suggests. It, however, is difficult to comprehend their tally of just 7 points from a possible 51 while playing away, and such a scandalous away record has no doubt contributed to their current situation.
Against the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool, away from home, they played a good brand of football and could have drawn those games if they had been focused after scoring the equalizer, but they simply haven’t managed to harness such opportunities.
Their season’s solitary positive so far, has been the goal scoring form of Charlie Austin, who has scored 17 league goals and rescued his side on many an occasion.
More impressively, 8 of Austin’s 17 goals have resulted in QPR winning as many as 13 points, which is almost half the tally of points they are on at the moment.
The likes of Leroy Fer and Joey Barton have done their bit to the team’s cause, but Ramsey, and Harry Redknapp before him, have been short on resources and not had enough players in their existent squad deliver the goods.
They come into this Sunday’s game on the back of winning just one – against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns – of their last six fixtures, but it is safe to say that they ought to throw the kitchen sink over these last three games and enjoy their time in the English top flight.
They also have not been fortunate with the kind of fixtures they have had to face during the run-in, and their Sunday’s opponents, if they are in the mood, will show them no mercy.
Ominously for them, City have recovered their home form and not lost at their own den in the last six league fixtures, a record they would want to hold onto by the end of this campaign.
There are ways in which QPR can make life disconcerting for the Sunday’s hosts, who have shown vulnerability in defending set-pieces and when they are up against really pacey sides, as Spurs showed last Sunday.
The visitors, though, cannot be solely intent on attacking, as they will have to defend for a majority of the game and stop the likes of Aguero, Silva and Fernandinho from finding their A-game.
From QPR’s perspective, they got to be at their best and hope that City have one of their bad days.
This should be an intriguing fixture from both sides’ perspective, with City wanting to finish this season on a positive note while also looking forward to the next season. Many a player in that squad is playing for his place and Pellegrini too, is looking to show the hierarchy that he deserves to be in his position when next season commences on the 8th of August. QPR, albeit will find it extremely difficult to topple the leading club in Manchester, can give it a real go and do justice to themselves.