VMC Preview: City v Sunderland, Probable Teams
Sunday 3rd April
After a two week International break it's back to business for Mancini and his men...
Manchester City Team News:
Mancini has a defensive crisis ahead of today`s crucial game with Sunderland. Both Boateng and Richards are out for considerable periods whilst Pablo Zabaleta cancelled his flight back to Manchester after news his father had fallen ill once again, all our thoughts are with him at this tough time.
Our fortunes are slightly brighter in attack thankfully, Johnson and Tevez have benefitted from the international break, using the time for rehab. Both Balotelli and Yaya didn`t appear for their countries and should also be fresh for the encounter. Therefore, here is the team I expect to see:
City`s Probable Team:
38) Boyata - 4) Kompany - 19) Lescott - 13) Kolarov
34) de Jong - 42) Yaya - 18) Barry
21) Silva - 32) Tevez - 45) Balotelli
Player to watch: Carlos Tevez
City's over reliance on el Apache has been brought up on a number of occasions. With the rise and rise of Silva the reliance has reduced slightly but the fact remains, when Carlos Tevez has a barren spell, so do Manchester City. It's been a while since Tevez has scored, but after a two week break, and handed the opportunity of leading the line once again, all is in place for our captain to start ramming them home once again.
Sunderland Team News:
Frazier Campbell is set to make his long-awaited return from a serious injury, taking up a place on the bench at Eastlands. Danny Welbeck should start again after his brilliant goal for the U21`s and his full England debut in the week. Asamoah Gyan will be high on confidence after giving Lescott the run-around at Wembley and should lead the Black Cats` attack.
Sunderland`s Probable Team:
29) Ferdinand - 5) Mensah - 19) Bramble - 2) Bardsley
10) Henderson - 6) Cattermole - 11) Muntari
28) Sessegnon - 33) Gyan - 17) Welbeck
Player to watch: Asamoah Gyan
Gyan will be on Cloud 9 after his goal at Wembley in front of 20,000 adoring Ghanians. The frontman has adapted quickly to Premier League life and has been prolific in front of goal with 9 netted this season. Joleon Lescott knows all about Gyan, and will have to be doubly aware of his trickery after he was left for dead earlier in the week.
Match Facts & Stats
City won this corresponding fixture last season 4-3 but it was not enough to save then-manager Mark Hughes, whose sacking was announced just two hours after the game.
City have won all six times they have hosted Sunderland in the Premier League.
City have taken 16 out of 18 points from their last six home matches. However, they have won just one of their last four league games.
he Black Cats are winless in six league matches, losing five and drawing one.
Just seven different players have scored a league goal for Sunderland this season, the fewest in the Premier League.
This weekends favourable results have increased the onus on City to pull away from the chasing pack. A win today would move us ahead of Chelsea into third with a 6 point advantage over Spurs (admittedly they have a game in hand). It is time for some of the players to step up to the plate and justify the money invested into them and the faith from the fans; I'm looking at Balotelli and Yaya in particular. Richards will be sorely missed at left back but Boyata is sound cover and we must ensure that he does not get targeted. Sunderland are certainly not going to roll over, they are still in contention for a 7th place finish and are a very good side. The likes of Gyan, Welbeck and Muntari will all have to be closely monitored. However, I think we will have enough. The international break should have helped us hugely and the rest granted to key players could prove decisive over the next couple of games. It's time to show Spurs what we're really made of. Match Prediction: MCFC 2 - 1 Sunderland.
Monday 11th April v Liverpool @ 20:00 (A)
Saturday 16th April v United, FA Cup Semi (Wembley)