In a week that has highlighted the insignificance of football it would be wrong not to start by looking at the symbolic importance of Tuesday night’s friendly at Wembley.
After last Friday’s dreadful attacks in Paris, the show of unity and defiance between England and France really highlighted the cultural importance football has in society, bringing together two nations in a show of strength and togetherness after facing adversity straight in the face.
The result, the performance, irrelevant, it was a night when freedom and integrity won out.
One result that did matter was Ireland’s victory over Bosnia on Monday night and it was great to see Robbie Brady, and in particular, Wes Hoolahan, qualify for the European Championships next summer.
After scoring in the first leg, Brady was moved to left back – a position I’ve not enjoyed seeing him in this season – but he was fantastic.
It will be interesting to see what Alex Neil does with him and Martin Olsson, whose Sweden side also qualified for the Euros, as City travel to Chelsea tomorrow.
Much has been made of City’s defensive approach in recent weeks and despite Chelsea’s struggles, I fully expect Neil to set up to frustrate.
I know it will be said that City should attack a ‘fragile’ Chelsea but if we can sit deep and frustrate – as we did at Manchester City – opportunities will arise.
With Russell Martin returning from suspension, Neil could revert to five at the back with wing-backs from Brady, Olsson, Andre Wisdom or Steven Whittaker.
Having looked more solid at recent weeks, I’d stick with four at the back but as with Swansea, be more responsible in midfield with either Gary O’Neil or Youssouf Mulumbu starting alongside Alex Tettey.
Don’t be fooled by Chelsea’s poor start, it will be a difficult match and anything City can get will be a bonus. That said, if we defend, and counter well, we’ve got a chance.