VMC Preview: City v West Brom, Team Predictions
Saturday, 5th February
Today's game; against the team with the worst defensive record in division, represents the perfect chance to get back to winning-ways after a poor run of form and a hugely frustrating draw at Birmingham. Despite having a shaky back line, Di Matteo persists in playing good football and supplying Odemwingie with amble support. West Brom's attacking inclinations should suit City game plan as we look to throw numbers forward.
Manchester City Team News:
Nigel de Jong, the team's most important player faces a crucial fitness text to determine whether his ankle has healed sufficiently in time for today's game. His half-time substitution at St.Andrews was not because of his horrific clash of heads with Micah Richards, but because of an ankle caught in the turf. Micah Richards on the other hand came off a lot worse after the accidental collision. He was stretchered off the pitch unconscious and thankfully has recovered quicker than expected. But despite his quikc recovery, he will miss the game as a precaution.
Mario Balotelli's knee rehab is going well and the striker is on course to meet his return date, hopedfully making an appearance in the Manchester derby. Yaya Toure has reportedly recovered from his illness meaning he should replace Milner in midfield. Boateng should start at right back in Richards' absence whilst Hart has been backed by Mancini to continue in goal.
City's Probable Team:
17) Boateng - 28) Kolo - 4) Kompany - 13) Kolarov
34) de Jong - 42) Yaya - 18) Barry
32) Tevez - 10) Dzeko - 21) Silva
Player to watch: Joe Hart
The young goalkeeper received Mancini's full backing yesterday when he insisted that Joe is 'his keeper' and he will not be changing him. His recent performances have been way below-par with his mistakes being heavily criticised by the media. City haven't kept a clean sheet in a month now and are struggling desperately to defend from set pieces. Joe is a confident lad and will be eager to right his wrongs and make a real difference in goal. I'm sure he'll return to his best in the coming weeks.
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
West Brom have been boosted by news that their leading marksman, Peter Odemwingie is fit to play after shaking off an ankle injury pikced up earlier in the week. The Nigerian should occupy the lone strikers with role with deep support from Brunt and Thomas. Graham Dorrans, Gonzalo Jara and Marek Cech will all need to require late fitness tests to see whether they will be able to participate.
West Brom's Probable Team:
36) Jara - 30) Tamas - 3) Olsson - 20) Shorey
14) Thomas - 21) Mulumnu - 33) Scharner - 11) Brunt - 7) Morrison
Player to watch: Chris Brunt
Whilst Odemwingie has taken the plaudits for his goal scoring, the contribution from Brunt has been priceless. This season he has switched from a winger to a more complete, all-round midfielder. His passing has been impressive whilst his application and composure make him a good box-to-box player.
Match Facts & Stats
Roberto Mancini is yet to lose a Premier League match against a side managed by a fellow Italian. He has two wins against Carlo Ancelotti, one versus Roberto Di Matteo and a draw against Gianfranco Zola.
This match is City's fourth successive league game against Midlands opposition. They conceded three times against Wolves, twice versus Birmingham and once against Aston Villa.
Edin Deko is seeking a first league goal for City at the fourth attempt. It took him four Bundesliga games to score for former club Wolfsburg, after which he scored 66 goals in the following 108 league games.
If selected, Carlos Tevez will be playing on his 27th birthday. City have never lost in any of the 24 league games in which Tevez has scored; in fact they have won 22 of them.
If they concede against City they will equal an unwanted Premier League club record of 23 games without a clean sheet. The Baggies also have the worst defensive record in the top flight, having let in 45 goals.
West Brom became only the fifth Premier League side to concede twice in eight successive matches in midweek, and the first since Bradford during the 2000/01 season.
As previously mentioned, this game represents the perfect opportunity to put things right and attack a defensively naive team. However, that being said this, will be not be a walk in the park - West Brom area decent side who have some good players and will cause us problems. With this game being a 'must win', it would also be nice to keep a clean sheet though. Dzeko is beginning to settle and is starting to look more at ease with the English style of play. Dzeko is 'made for the English league' and has already shown flashes of brilliance in his short spell at City. He should now start to convert chances into goals and this will be helped even moreso by the return of Yaya Toure. In conclusion, I think City will definitely win this one; if we don't then we are in big trouble and have put ourselves in a perilous position. I'm not expecting fireworks from this match due to our form but we should definitely win this. Or at least I hope! Match Prediction: City 2 - 0 WBA.
Saturday, 12th February. The Manchester derby @ 12:45 (A - The Swamp)
Tuesday, 15th February v FC Aris @ 17:00 (Europa - A)