Date:Saturday December 4 2010
Saturday, 4th December
The league's form side Bolton Wanderers, reinvented under Owen Coyle visit Eastlands on Saturday only three points shy of City. Both sides are unbeaten in their last five games.
'The lads showed a lot of desire and quality last weekend to fight back so that was pleasing, but we can't afford to wait so late to get back in the game this weekend. We will have to look to make a big start and take it from there.
'Manchester City are a team that are growing and I think that they are getting better and they put in another accomplished performance on Wednesday night against Salzburg.
'Roberto (Mancini) made a few changes and I imagine there will be some more for our game as well, so they will be fresh. They have strength in depth and real quality and whatever team they name will be full of world-class players.
'There is no doubt that they are going to be a big threat this year, but what we have to do is make sure that on Saturday we are at our best. We have to go there and show that we can play football as well and that we have plenty of very good players at our club who can cause Manchester City problems.
'Martin was in the team and doing very well and then he too got injured. Matty Taylor came in and took his chance and Martin has had be very patient, playing well whenever he has come off the bench.
'He is obviously going back to his former club and one that he was outstanding for, but there are a number of players in contention and we will have to look at everything, give balance and look to pick the best team available.'
*Quotes from Mancini to come*
Yaya Toure is expected to return to the starting line-up after missing the last two games with a severe migrane. I predict that Yaya will return in that slightly advanced midfield role, getting the nod ahead of Milner despite he impressing in midweek. Mario Balotelli was substituted after scoring his second against Salzburg with a hamstring niggle but is expected to start up front alongside the rested Carlos Tevez.
The only real selection headache is who should play at right back. I would like to see Zabaleta start there because of the form he`s in, his defensive solidity (which will be useful against the returning Rigsby) and his attacking craft. However, I expect Mancini to hand the start to Micah Richards after Boateng's workout on Wednesday night.
Therefore, I expect the team to be the following:
Probable City Team:
2) Richards - 28) K Toure - 4) Kompany - 13) Kolarov
4) De Jong - 42) Y Toure - 18) Barry
21) Silva - 32) Tevez - 45) Balotelli
There`s never a dull moment with this kid. Every game he plays in seems to show both his strengths and flaws - he scores goals whilst throwing an unconvincing dive in the box into the mix. And only yesterday he was involved in a training ground case of handbags with Boateng, which is nothing as that type of thing happens every day at work but nevertheless. It`s clear for all to see - Balotelli is sublimely talented; he has the world as his feet but you can't help but notice that he knows he's good through his arrogant approach. Don't kid me, I love the guy. I think he's great but controversy seems to follow him around like a bad smell. Hopefully he can let his football do the talking and continue from where he left off against Salzburg - terrorizing Bolton's one-paced defence with his pace.
Owen Coyle has a few injury concerns ahead of today's game. Form midfielder Stuart Holden is set to have a late fitness test but is deemed unlikely to make it, meaning Mark Davies is likely to continue in central midfield. Rigsby is likely to get a start due to his previous ties with City - I'm sure he'll be hungry to make a point against his former employers.
Here's what I expect Bolton to line up like:
Probable Bolton Team:
8) Ricketts - 5) Cahill - 12) Knight - 4) Robinson
7) Lee - 16) M Davies - 10) Rigsby
9) Elmander - 14) K Davies
Johan Elmander has stolen the headlines at Bolton this season for his brilliant displays and goal scoring talent. But the canny Kevin Davies deserves similar acknowledgement. He makes Bolton tick as they use him as a focal point to build their attacks around. Davies holds up the ball whilst bringing into the game the arriving Elmander and the likes of Holden, Davies and Lee. Davies is actually a better technical player than many will give him credit for - he can pick a pass very well and has set the Swede up on a few occasions this season. Vincent Kompany must attempt to dominate the aerial battle with Davies as Toure is not the strongest in the air.
Manchester City and Bolton have met 120 times in all competitions, with City leading by 49 wins to 45.
City won this fixture 2-0 last season with goals from Tevez (pen) and Adebayor.
City have failed to score a home Premier League goal in 4 hours, 45 minutes.
However, City are unbeaten in five league matches, winning two and drawing three.
Joe Hart has kept seven clean sheets this season. Only Chelsea's Petr Cech (eight) has kept more.
Bolton are unbeaten in five league matches, winning three and drawing two.
Bolton have not kept a clean sheet since a 0-0 draw with Fulham on the opening day of the season.
This should be a great game. Bolton play sharp, passing football whilst City have started to attack with more fluency in recent games. The key for me is to nullify Kevin Davies and be first to every second ball, yes de Jong I'm looking to you! If we can do both those things then I think we can overpower Bolton in the final third and expose their lack of pace at the back with Balotelli and Tevez's pace. I'm expecting a pretty open game which sees Bolton get their fair share of chances. However, our clinical finishing up front should see us through. Match Prediction: MCFC 3 - 2 Bolton.
Saturday, 11th December v West Ham @ 15:00 (A)
Thursday, 16th December v Juventus @ 19:00 (A) - EUROPE
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Date:Saturday December 4 2010
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