Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Friday August 21 2009
City of Manchester Stadium
Saturday 22nd August
1500 Eastlands Time
The stage is set. The game is a sell out. Two sides take the field in East Manchester feeling pretty chipper. City, having cunningly beaten Barcelona at a packed Nou Camp and Wolves having robustly dispatched Wigan in Pie land.
Mark Hughes speaking from downtown Barca:
'Wolves was always going to be a big crowd ... I'm sure they'll be swinging from the rafters after this.'
And from Manchester:
"Our aim to always play entertaining football; that is how the squad is built and that is what we will be trying to do. We have a lot of quality in the final third and we want to replicate our home form of last season."
'I don't think that expecting them (City) to win the league when they have just bought a team is realistic.
'They might make a push for it. But I just don't think it is realistic to expect them to win the league when others have got a settled team.'
'Mark Hughes' job is no harder than mine. He has a place where he is expected to finish and I have a place where I am expected to finish. Mine is 17th and up and their's is sixth and up. I have got the players to finish 17th and up, he has got the players to finish sixth and up so why does it make his job any harder than mine?'
Robinho, Emmanuel Adebayor and Wayne Bridge have all been carrying small injuries and were rested from playing in the +44c heat of the Nou Camp. Pablo Zabaleta has a calf strain.
Carlos Tevez got a solid hour's run out leading the line so outside of Crocky Santa Cruz, Hughes should have a full armoury at his disposal.
The boy Adebayor really put in a shift with overtime in the win at Ewood Park last week. He led by example not only up front, but tracking back and defending as part of a unit. Something City lacked badly last season. He's sure to be right in amongst it tomorrow.
Wolves main men Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Foley should still be out with hamstring and knee ligament problems respectively. The Old Gold went into the win at Wigan with a fair number of other knocks so it will be interesting to see who Big Mick has at his disposal.
Keogh put in a virtuoso performance at Wigan on Tuesday, working hard as a lone striker. We can expect hime to play a similar role at Eastlands.
City have won a massive 27 points from the last 10 home games at Eastlands.
The Blues didn't draw a single home game throughout last season.
Wolves away form isn't bad at all. They were the only Championship side to win more than 10 games on the road last season.
The last meeting:
10th April 2004: City 3 Wolves 3
Lee Mason, Lancashire: 2008-2009 Record: Games: 34, Yellow Cards: 132 Red Cards: 8 City games reffed last season: Middlesboro 2 City 0, City 1 Wigan 0
This has got to be a home banker if ever there was one. The momentum at City is unprecedented both on and off the park in modern times. There is sure to be a terrific atmosphere on Saturday and despite Wolves best efforts, I predict that if they fall behind early they'll be pasted. Johnny On The Spot: City 4 Wolves 0.
Thu 27 Aug, 8pm Laandaarn time: Crystal Palace v CITY, Carling Cup.
Sun 30 Aug, 1.30pm Sailors Time: Portsmouth v CITY, Premier League.
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Date:Friday August 21 2009
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