Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Wednesday March 14 2007
City of Manchester Stadium
Just when you think things can't get any worse along come the champions.
City entertain Chelsea tonight desperate for the three points that would lift them clear of the drop zone.
Riddled by internal strife and supporter rebellion, City will take to the field looking to achieve what many see as an impossible task.
To the surprise of most observers, Stuart Pearce remains in charge for this fixture. It is difficult to see how he will manage to motivate the side for what has become a must win game for both his personal ambitions and for the good of the club.
Given that the team have failed to show up and, despite the manager`s arguments to the contrary, have looked a team divided for their last two fixtures it is hard to see beyond a Chelsea victory.
I hope I`m wrong. I hope all of the recent criticism has hit all at the club very hard and that they dig deep and rediscover that thing called professional pride. At the very least I hope we can put some pressure on the Chelsea goal and once more look like a team united in one common goal; namely playing to win the eleven remaining fixtures starting with this one tonight.
That will mean the manager setting up the team to win the game. Playing not to lose will backfire, Chelsea have too much talent. Tottenham showed that they can be pressured in defence but they also showed what happens when you sit back and let them attack. If City go into this game with the sole intent of nicking something they will lose.
Regardless of the result all of us here at Vital Manchester City ask just one thing from those attending tonight. Get behind the eleven players selected and show them where our loyalties lie. Save any demonstrations until after the game and direct them at the right targets. It is imperative that we support those selected regardless of how we feel about their recent performances. It is also important that we show that our expectations are not the problem at this club. Remember we all want the same thing; 3 points for Manchester City. the inquests can come later.
Under fire Stuart Pearce calls for the supporters to support the club.
'The fans are a massive part of this football club,
'They will be here long after the players and board have gone and the manager has been changed a million times.
'But the one thing they have to do is get behind the players. If the fans have any frustrations they should take them out on me.'
Expect a return for Dickov as Corradi finds himself out in the cold. Mpenza could push Dickov for a start but may well find himself on the bench once again as the manager looks for more aggression in front of goal.
I don't expect Pearce to change from his favoured 5-3-2 but it will leave his centre backs exposed if Chelsea start with two wingers.
Man City (from):
Weaver, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Ball, Trabelsi, Barton, Ireland, Beasley, Samaras, Corradi, Isaksson, Jihai, Dabo, Vassell, Hamann, Dickov, Sturridge, Mpenza, Miller.
Not the best week for Joey so far. Will feel he needs to deliver after his recent comments on the divisions within the squad.
Terry will return for Chelsea after missing the three games since he was concussed in the Carling Cup final.
Shevchenko is a doubt after pulling up in training yesterday.
Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Hedman, Ferreira, Geremi, Diarra, Carvalho, Essien, Terry, Bridge, A Cole, Lampard, Makelele, Ballack, Drogba, Shevchenko, Kalou, Wright-Phillips, Boulahrouz.
A tongue in cheek selection. If we are watching Cech then at least City are attacking.
City lost 3-0 on the opening day of the season at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea scoring through Terry, Lampard and Drogba.
Last season at Eastlands Chelsea were 1-0 winners, a late goal from Joe Cole sealing the points.
City have lost their last five, four of them in the Premiership, and go into this game fourth from bottom but six points clear of Charlton.
Chelsea are unbeaten in eleven games and a win tonight would move them within 6 points of the top of the table.
Alan Wiley ..... City have had their moments with Wiley refereeing but there are worse.
As much as I hate to say it I really cannot see beyond a big Chelsea win. City are struggling to manage attempts on goal let alone score and our defence is not good enough to keep Chelsea at bay. I expect a repeat of the opening day; 3-0 to Chelsea.
Boro (a) 17/03/07 3pm
Date:Wednesday March 14 2007
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