West Ham v City
With tomorrow's match fast approaching and Tevez and Kolarov set for a weekend off, who would you select for this match?
There are starting to be a number of automatic choices now for City as far as Premier League clashes go and I suspect tomorrow is no exception.
In goal, there really is no opposition to Joe Hart, and there seems little hope of Given upsetting that one.
Mancini is starting to give Richards second and third and fourth chances, but in the absence of Kolarov it is Boateng for me at right back and Zabaleta at left back. That combination should keep a clamp on the flanks so that the magnificent Vincent Kompany can keep the door locked in the centre.
I expect him to be partnered by Lescott, although Mancini could opt for Boateng in the centre, Lescott on the left and Zaba on the right. I think the back four in whatever permutation will come from those four.
Up front I expect to see Balotelli with Silva in just behind, leaving the usual permutations for the remaining positions. I can't see Mancini starting with two wide players so we will have de Jong in there to combat Scott Parker who is having a great season almost single-handed for the Hammers, Barry trying to make the play down the left and also covering for whoever plays at left back. Yoyo will get the nod especially as he is improving quickly and showing signs of dominating in midfield. This leaves Milner and Johnson competing for the remaining place.
I think Milner will get the green light more for his combative qualities, but he will need his high-octane output if selected.
This will leave City quite narrow but there is an option for Johnson either from the start or after the hour to add width. Indeed Roberto could go with him leaving Milner on the bench ready for when we tighten the game up late on.
West Ham for their part need to take us on tomorrow. They don't really have the personnel to play for a 0-0 draw by governing the edge of the box. Green and Upson always look shaky to me and I expect Mario to be on the scoresheet tomorrow. Parker will do his best for them as always, but by tea-time there could be calls for Avram Grant's head.
City should in all fairness prove to be too strong for the Irons and if they play the type of football we have started to see in matches like Fulham and Bolton then we could end the day not too far from top of the league.
It is a long way from the old Maine Road days when one or the other of these teams were going up or going down and the fans used to shake hands across the segregation netting!