Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Saturday January 6 2007
City make the short journey to Sheffield for this season's FA Cup 3rd round tie. In an inspired piece of planning by the South Yorkshire authorities the game has been moved from Saturday to Sunday to avoid a clash with the Sheffield United v Swansea tie.
An understandable decision perhaps if you wish to avoid two cup ties in the same City on the same day, but did any consideration go into which game would be played on which day?
City have sold 6200 tickets for their game at Wednesday and the fixture has been moved to a day when there are NO trains running between Manchester and Sheffield. Inspired thinking.
On to the game and City go into this tie on the back of three successive Premiership wins. The football may not have been vintage during that time, but wins are wins and hopefully that is breeding confidence in the squad.
Wednesday themselves are currently on a good run of form. They hover just a few places from the play offs after struggling to maintain their Championship status last season. The Owls are managed by Brian Laws who, strangely enough, was the opposition manager in last season's third round tie where the blues triumphed 3-1.
City reached the quarter finals of this competition last season, only to surrender meekly 2-0 to eventual runners up, West Ham, at Eastlands.
This season's only cup encounter to date ended in relative humiliation with a 2-1 defeat at Chesterfield in the Carling Cup. You feel that the team will have to perform somewhat better if they wish to progress in this competition.
Stuart Pearce tells the offical club website that he believes City will have to fight hard for anything at Hillsborough.
"We`ve ended up getting a draw against probably the form side in the country over the last two months.
"We`re desperate to have a run in the cup because we saw what happened and how it ignited last year - but one thing`s for sure Sheffield Wednesday will have something to say about that so we are going to have to be on our toes.
"On paper people will be looking at it and saying there could be possible upset there. So we are going to have to make sure we are ready for a cup-tie in the truest sense.
"I think it`s going to be a fantastic occasion and our fans will go there in anticipation and hopefully we`ll get the result we want, but we`re going to have to put some sweat and blood on your shirt to get that result."
Wednesday will have veteran keeper Mark Crossley in goal after his loan from Fulham was extended.
Madjid Bougherra is suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season and Wayne Andrews is unavailable after returning to Coventry after a successful loan spell.
8 goals from midfield already this season identifies the youngster as a threat to be taken seriously
City are still without the suspended Joey Barton but could welcome back long term absentees Sun Jihai and Trevor Sinclair.
Steven Ireland may well start which could mean a move back to right back for Micah Richards.
The American is finally starting to impress and could shine if given a start out wide in a 4-4-2 formation.
City's last visit to Hillsborough saw the blues record a memorable 6-2 win under the management of Kevin Keegan.
This is only the third time the blues have been drawn against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup, but the first time in 77 years. City have never been knocked out of the competition by Wednesday.
Graham Poll .... Any optimism you may have had should have diluted the instant you read this man's name. Another inept display at Disneyland Trafford saw Poll avoid awarding City a clear penalty, allow an offside goal against us and send yet another City player off.
A tough cup tie that may well go back to Eastlands, 1-1.
Bolton Wanderers (a) Sat 13/01/2007
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Date:Saturday January 6 2007
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