The football continues, despite Tottenham Hotspur being knocked out of the Capital One Cup, thereby depriving the club of all potential glory for the season. Instead of sending everyone on a long holiday, Spurs are instead rewarded by being forced to welcome current table-toppers Manchester City to White Hart Lane. Lovely, right?
So, I sat down with Nayir Chowdhury of SB Nation's Manchester City blog, Bitter and Blue, to discuss what it's like to be a team that wins things and why they are intent on ruining English treasure and Tim Sherwood disliker Fabian Delph.
Also, on the off chance that you're interested, I answered some questions for them, in which I didn't really say anything too interesting.
Cartilage Free Captain: City are off to a pretty great start to the season, how does it feel given the disappointment surriounding last season's campaign?
Bitter & Blue: It feels pretty great, but we're wary of the job left ahead. Last year was hugely disappointing but in reality it wasn't a great failure given we were still second place, despite playing subpar for most of the season. Just picking up that poor form a little bit plus Chelsea not having a perfect season again was going to mean a shift at the top, though we didn't expect it to be so drastic in such little time this season. Overall, it's been a great, refreshing start for City fans.
CFC: Seriously, can you believe you're top of the table even though you keep starting Jesus Navas?
B&B: It seems like every year there's a player that splits opinion down the middle in the City fanbase, and right now it's firmly Navas. It's pretty astounding to see how poor his crossing stats are, but I think some of the arguments against him are invalid personally. Sure, he could do better with his final ball, but I disagree with the notion that 'Player X' would do better than him in that regard, given Navas' blistering pace is what creates most of those opportunities in the first place. And perhaps more importantly, he is by far the best defender amongst our midfielders and it is most likely this which keeps him in the team. I think with everyone healthy he'll be on the bench with Sterling-Silva-KDB the preferred trio, but Navas will still have his importance for us. But, a good bench player is most likely his niche in a title-winning team. His finishing, I will say, is pretty damn bad.
CFC: Over under 300, the number of Premier League minutes will Fabian Delph actually get to play this season?
B&B: I think the next few matches will shape the outlook for Delph. He hasn't been healthy for about a month, but neither has Fernando. Now Fernando is back, and we'll see how much Pellegrini trusts him coming off of last year's poor campaign. Delph will certainly pass 300 minutes, but whether he is 3rd or 4th choice CM, we will see. Personally, I'd like to see him play over Fernando because he's more of a two-way player, and is probably our most energetic CM- something we sorely lacked last season.
CFC: Manuel Pellegrini seems to be perpetually on the hot seat, even when results are good. Is he going to be the manager at City after this season or are the likes of Pep and Klopp going to be too tempting for the City bosses?
B&B: I think he's still going to be here. I'd bet Klopp ends up at Liverpool, and I really don't see Pep coming to City. It'd have to take a total collapse at Bayern for that to happen. With those two out of the picture I'm not sure who else the management would be looking at. Patrick Vieira could very well be the next candidate, as he has been managing our youth and reserve teams for years now. It would make sense, though we haven't seen him cut his chops with the first team yet. But all in all, I think we'll have at least one more year of The Engineer.
CFC: It seemed like, coming into the season, everyone had Chelsea pegged as the easy title favorites. Now they're floundering and instead it's City and United who are challenging for the top. What are your expectations for City in the League?
B&B: I expected us to put together a strong title run. We've plugged most of the holes that plagued us last season: a pacey, creative winger (Sterling), a 'crack' as Pellegrini calls them (KDB), and a stud CB (Otamendi). With these pieces in place + last season's disappointment it seemed like a deep run would be inevitable. And, as City fans and fans of the Premier League, we've seen in recent years how difficult it is to repeat as champions so Chelsea's decline coming off of last year's near perfect campaign also seemed to be in the cards. Mourinho might be a good manager, but he's not a Ferguson, as much as it pains me to give that praise. Given where we sit after 6 rounds, I'll be pretty disappointed if we don't win the title from this position.
CFC: Would City consider attempting to win a Champions League game once in a while? You know, just to mix things up. (Seriously, if the Premier League loses that 4th Champions League spot and Spurs finish 4th that season, I'm blaming you guys.)
B&B: Shhh, let's not talk about the Champions League. It's pretty remarkable to see how we struggle to put together the same form domestically and on the continent, but hey at least England is going down with us! Seriously though, I would absolutely hate to see England lose that 4th CL spot (unless Arsenal finished 4th). We've got a seemingly favorable game with Borussia Mochedenspellcheck coming up next week given they have a grand total of zero points in the Bundesliga this season and look terrible, but knowing us I'm sure we'll donate them a point, or three.
CFC: Alright, I suppose we can talk about the game now, given recent history, are you at all nervous about this fixture?
B&B: Always a bit nervous about Spurs away, albeit not as much as some other away fixtures. For whatever reason (Aguero) we seem to handle you guys pretty well, but I wouldn't want to catch you on one of your good days. The first goal will be really important in this one.
CFC: Finally, give us a prediction.
B&B: I'm going to go with a 2-1 City win. Spurs attack will probably be the best City's faced so far (what's up Chelsea?), and I wouldn't be surprised at to see a goal get past our so-far good defense. I think we'll overwhelm you guys in our attacking third though, with Sterling and KDB causing tons of problems and Navas doing 'stuff' down the right side. Silva is hurt so he won't be featuring for us unfortunately. All in all I expect a pretty good match, and am looking forward to it.
Thanks to Nayir for answering my questions (all the dumb ones came from Ben Daniels and Skipjack). If you're interested in following Nayir on Twitter he can be found at @nchowdhury07. Likewise, Bitter and Blue can be followed at @Bitter_and_Blue.