Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Friday March 16 2007
City travel to Boro in desperate need of the three points on offer. Both the team and the manager are fighting for their lives and Saturday`s fixture could be significant for both.
After an improved performance on Wednesday night, expectations of a performance are perhaps a little higher than they were earlier in the week. However the lack of penetration and goal scoring nous remains a major concern for all that follow City.
Samaras` tame effort in the 94th minute of the Chelsea game was the blues first shot on target in two games. The manager really needs to address this lack of chances; at least if we are creating we stand a chance of scoring.
I would like to see a more attacking formation that would perhaps see the dropping of Stevie Ireland and the team reverting to 4-4-2. However, if nothing else, Pearce is stubborn and is likely to stick with his defensive minded 5-4-1 formation with Mpenza starting up front on his own.
Three points in this game will ease the crisis surrounding the club and drag Boro back into the mix. However City results at the Riverside are every bit as rare as at Old Trafford or Arsenal so it will be tough. Let`s hope the crestfallen manager drags some inspiration from somewhere and goes for the win.
Stuart Pearce believes City will stay up despite their poor form in front of goal.
'We have said over a of period of time that we have struggled to get goals, but I was impressed by (Emile) Mpenza's debut and though he played well holding it up and competing.
'I think if we play with that spirit and endeavour we will get the victories we need to stay in this league, no problem.'
Middlesbrough may look to rest keuy players ahead of Monday's cup replay.
One of those strikers that always scores against City.
Much as it would be nice to see an attacking formation it is likely that Pearce will stick with the eleven who started against Chelsea.
Sturridge could return to the bench.
Looked OK on Wednesday and given more support could threaten the Boro defence.
City ended one of their hoodoos when they beat Boro 1-0 at Eastlands earlier in the season but have still failed to win at Boro in 30 years.
Last season saw the teams play out a dull New Years Eve 0-0 draw.
City haven't won in the Premiership since New Years Day and have lost their last 5 Premiership fixtures.
Boro are unbeaten in six games in all competitions.
Keith Stroud - His first Premiership fixture. Son no pressure then?
Much as I would love to see City win this one I think we will get a 1-1 draw.
Will it be enough to save Pearce?
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Date:Friday March 16 2007
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