Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Saturday September 26 2009
The City Of Manchester Stadium
Monday 28th September 2009
And so begins a sequence of six league games that could well define City's season. All winnable and crucial to The Citizens target of getting in amongst the 'Big Four' this season...
Sparky Press Conference comments to follow...
'I don't envy anybody. We are not a club who can spend £20m on a player but we are solid. We have stability and can look forward with a positive attitude. I am working on a project. I see the big picture. It is just a matter of time before we start picking up points with consistency.'
'West Ham is a big game for us to win after the derby result. It is an opportunity for three points to keep us high in the table. It's not impossible to finish in the top four, but it's not easy - the Premier League is very combative. We have good quality players, but we need to play very well to be in the top four."
"We don't fear them. We know they have got a lot more ability in their team than last season. Craig Bellamy is on fire and we know what he is capable of. I think it will be a good game to play in. They play football and so do we. May the best team win."
Roque Santa Cruz:
"I don't think people realise how excited I am about making my debut - I just can't wait to do it. I think I'm in good shape to be involved in the West Ham game. Everything is looking positive with the knee; it has dealt with the stress I have been giving it. Now I need to get my match fitness. Maybe it is a good time for me to come into the team but I don't want Ade to be out of the selection - I would like to be fighting with him for the position. Everybody at the club is supporting him."
Sparky pack shuffle likely with Martin Petrov and Vladimir Weiss coming into contention for a start.
Stephen Ireland is doubtful having had to spend a night in hospital following a whack on the head in the Fulham League Cup win.
Also doubtful, Micah Richards who has a shoulder knock.
Definitely out: Vincent Kompany, Robinho, Onuoha and Benjani.
Emmanuel Adebayor serves the last of his 3 game ban for violent conduct pending the outcome of his charge for Thierry Henry style improper conduct.
Michael Johnson and Roque Santa Cruz imminent.
Santa Cruz is coming to town. Okay, about 6 weeks late but Mark Hughes' much pursued, much coveted centre forward is likely to be on the bench for this one and assured of a run out. He was under enough pressure to deliver before his knee surgery rehabilitation and will know he has a lot of Sparky faith to repay.
That said, he can be sure of a warm Eastlands welcome.
It's far from an ideal situation for Zola right now. Matthew Upson and Jack Collison, Kieron Dyer and Luis Jimenez are all knacked and doubtful. Luis Boa Morte and Dean Ashton are definitely out.
We can expect to see a similar side to the one knocked out of the League Cup at Bolton last week.
The lively ex Livorno striker Diamanti is no mug and quickly finding his feet in the English top flight.
He can be lethal from set pieces and is a long range shot specialist whom Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong will need to close down.
On fire ex Hammer Craig Bellamy needs 2 goals for 100 in league competition. In his last 9 games against former club's he's hit 5 goals.
City's last goalless draw? 50 games ago! A goalless draw is 10-1.
The Blues haven't lost at home to West Ham in 6 years.
This is West Ham's worst start to a season since their 2002/03 relegation season.
**CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE VITAL MANCHESTER CITY FORUM MATCH DAY THREAD**
C J Foy (Merseyside) Foy's star is rising and he was rewarded with the FA Community Shield at the start of the season. He's a reasonable card flourisher by the looks of it. 2008-2009 Record: Games: 36 Yellow Cards: 117 Red Cards: 3 Something of a City specialist and last season reffing The Blues as follows: Sunderland 0 - 3 Man City West Brom 2 - 1 Man City Man City 2 - 0 Aston Villa Man Utd 2 - 0 Man City
West Ham might well be in the relegation zone going into this one but have plenty of spirit. They must not be underestimated as Liverpool found out last week. There's been a mutual respect between West Ham and City fans down the years borne out of similar histories and on pitch applause given to a relegated travelling Blue Army in the 80's. We can expect a good atmosphere for the ESPN cameras. Back to the game and City should have that bit extra required to reassert themselves near the top of the league. Johnny On The Spot: CITY 2 West Ham 0
A, Aston Villa, Mon 5 Oct 2000 BST
A, Wigan Atheltic, Sun 18 Oct 1600 BST
H, Fulham, Sun 25 Oct 1600 BST
H, Scunthorpe Uninted, League Cup, TBC
Date:Saturday September 26 2009
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