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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Manchester City FC vs. Sunderland AFC

The City Of Manchester Stadium

Saturday 19th December 2009

15h00 GMT

VMC Preview: The Blues v The Black Cats

Alarm Bells Ring - Are you listening? The dreadful no show at Spurs has hit City fans hard as the hacks enjoy an early Christmas City flogging. Sunderland next. Eastlands expects

Vital Quotes:

Mark Hughes:

'We're back at home after two difficult fixtures away and we've got to get back to the level we produced against Chelsea. We're more than capable of doing that. We've just come through a period in which we`ve beaten Arsenal and Chelsea, and also shown great spirit and courage in difficult circumstances against Bolton to come back three times. Whether that had a negative impact on what we were able to produce at Tottenham, who knows? We've picked the bones out, but sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say: 'We weren't good enough on the night.'

Steve Bruce:

'Myself and Mark played for an unbelievable club that has an unbelievable mentality. But..with myself and Mark at the start of it, it took years to win trophies. Will he be given time...? who knows with football these days?

'I still believe we are making decent progress. It is going to take time. But there are decent signs there. We are not getting beaten badly. It is the odd goal here and there.'

Gareth Barry:

'There was a lot of hurt players in there and the lads were really at each other's throats. It's not just the defeat, it's the way we've lost - we've lost a lot of pride. A few words were said in the dressing room and we want to put things right.'

Nedum Onuoha:

'We won't let our heads drop after Wednesday. With the character and the winners that we've got in the team, I don't think we're going to lose a game and crumble. We have to make sure we do the little things that make a big difference. Tottenham is already behind us, we can't change that result - we just have to be positive for the games to come.'

Phil Bardsley:

'We believe in ourselves and I think we can get something. I was talking to one of the City players a little while back, and he was saying it felt like there were a lot of foreign players there now. They are throwing a lot of money around and the owners want to win things at any cost.

'At the same time you have to have a good atmosphere in the dressing room if you are going to be successful. That is something for them to sort out maybe. We just have to concentrate on us tomorrow because we have been on a disappointing run.'

Manchester City FC Team News:

City are looking tight for options going into the busy Christmas phase and have shipped some nasty injuries which will extend into January's crucial fixtures.

Johnson is of course out for the season. Bridge and Lescott are out for 5-6 weeks and SWP is rated doubtful.

Nigel De Jong serves a one match ban for accumulated bookings but Craig Bellamy returns to lead the charge, if anything warranting the Captain's armband of late.

Player to watch: Santa Cruz or Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor has been woeful at times and generally dreary since returning from suspension earlier in the season. He drifts aimlessly from wing to wing, drops far too deep and gave Spurs' centre backs their easiest game of the season on Wednesday.

The big man is coming in for increasing stick and if anything merits dropping to the bench. City need a big target man to give them options and right now there is little to choose between Ade and Santa Cruz for impact. But will Sparky be prepared to start with the Paraguayan and risk upsetting an alledged ego that our Gooner visitors have warned us about?

Sunderland AFC Team News:

Gordon and Ferdinand are out for The Black Cats and Zenden and Turner are both doubtful.

Cana is suspended for the trip to Manchester.

Player to watch: Lee Cattermole

Cattermole is likely to make his first start in two months following a ligament injury. Catts first league goal came for Middlesbrough in a win at City and how the young tough tackling midfielder would love to get The Mackems going again. After his quotes this week, Gareth Barry had better be on his game.

Match Facts & Stats

City's 3-0 defeat at Tottenham was only the second time in 16 league games that The Blues have failed to score.

Sunderland have lost all of their last four league games.

City have shipped 13 goals in the last six games.

City have won the last 3 games with Sunderland at Eastlands and all of the last 8 league games against them.

VMC Link: Once A Blue Meets Vital Sunderland

VMC Forum Link: MATCHDAY THREAD: Man City v Sunderland - Saturday Dec 19 - KO 3PM UK Time

Ref Watch:

A Marriner, West Midlands. Yellow card mentalist Marriner takes charge of his first City game of the season and his third with the Mackems. He oversaw The Cats one away win of the season at Bolton. He's handled the big guns a few times this season and has a far from card shy reputation. Current season record: Games:14, Yellow Cards:54, Red Cards:5

Match Prediction:

Nothing other than a convincing City win is going to appease the growing unrest that is building across Planet Blue. Anything less and the sports hacks who have been forced to hold back until now upon savaging Mark Hughes due to a long 'drawn out' unbeaten run will up their campaign to see the City boss sacked. No two ways about it, the stakes are higher now and The Blues must deliver consistent wins. But to do that, Sparky has to be prepared to change things boldly when it ain't going right. He is overly cautious far too often, but at the end of the day, this Christmas period will be all about who of his players wants it the most. We'll know for sure who is on board for the long haul by Saturday night. I demand a response and I sense we'll get it, but for that to happen, the majority of City's players must change their attitudes. Defeat would see all hell break loose. Johnny On The Spot: CITY 3 Sunderland 0

Next Fixtures:

H: Stoke, Sat 26 Dec 15h00 GMT
A: Wolves, Mon 28 Dec 19h45 GMT
A: Middlesbrough, FAC3 Sat 2 Jan 15h00 GMT
H: the rags, LCSF, Wed 6 Jan 19h45 GMT

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The journalist

Writer: Johnny Baguette Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 18 2009

Time: 2:55PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Most must win fixture o date. If we don't serious questions are going to be asked and serious consequences given out. I'm sure we can win and as the players have said, we have had a major talking down, they are up for it!!
Once a Blue
Report Abuse
18/12/2009 17:47:00 Add comments if you agree or disagree!
Report Abuse
18/12/2009 18:10:00

Good luck tomorrow Gaz! No sorry, worst of luck. Stuff Christmas spirit!
Johnny Baguette
Report Abuse
18/12/2009 18:34:00

Sacked that useless ***** of a manager yet? Maybe after another flogging, Darren Bent to score a hatrick against your dodgy defence.
Report Abuse
18/12/2009 23:56:00

A lot of non Manchester City fans would love us to get rid of our manager, that would set us back several matches and leave us with nothing to play for until next season. It takes time for a new person to settle in bring in his own backroom staff and then sign the players he wants and Hughes has just about got rid of the previous managers buys and we will have to start again and then how long do the impatient ones give him. Not long I suspect.
Buzz Lightyear
Report Abuse
19/12/2009 11:46:00

It matters not what we do today, this week has been a nightmare and the sooner we get to the January sales the batter.
Buzz Lightyear
Report Abuse
19/12/2009 11:47:00

tergehauge... hahaha... darren bent will only ever score a hatrick if the pitch is covered in beech balls. serious the guy is pants. yes im a spurs fan and i obviously will say this but the guy offers very little to the team other that the odd tap in and deflected shots. he will get more than 20 goals this season thats for sure but thats all he cares about, not a team player. maybe kenwyn will get the best out of him tho
Report Abuse
19/12/2009 13:53:00


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