Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Thursday December 27 2007
City of Manchester Stadium
27th December 2007
A key game for the Blues as a must not lose game as Blackburn are clearly one of City's main UEFA cup spot rivals and with Liverpool coming up on Sunday four points from these next two games is the minimum requirement. Beating Liverpool will be the better psychological result for City as it would put them back in the Champion's league spot.
lackburn have been a bit of a nemesis in recent years and you have to go back to August 2003 when Nicolas Anelka got a late winner for City in a three two victory for the last and rare occasion that City have beaten Blackburn.
ith City being the only club with a 100% home record the drive should be in the squad to uphold that record.
Sven-Goran Eriksson on a tough festive period: 'Many of them will not be used to the demands and I have told them to have Christmas Day to themselves.
'When you have five games in 15 days, you need to make sure that one of those other days is a rest day.
'We have got very big games coming up against Blackburn and Liverpool and it is important to be ready for those.'
Eriksson then talks about Blackburn: "I saw them play against Chelsea and I think Blackburn played better than Chelsea. They were unlucky to lose that game," the Manager told us.
"Blackburn have a good team and they are doing very well in the league so far and it`s not surprising me because of the players they have. Santa Cruz and David Bentley have been playing well lately.
"I think Blackburn are very well organised. They are fighting team, physically very strong and some really good football players in Bentley and Santa Cruz of course."
Blackburn boss Mark Hughes: 'Things have not gone as well over the past few games. We know what needs to be done and we are trying all we can to get our season back on track.
'We were all delighted with the way the campaign had started. We need a victory or two to settle us down, but then no-one has a divine right to win.'
City welcome back Stephen Ireland back from his three match ban but will be without the silky skills of Michael Johnson.
ity's only other injury doubt is Emile Mpenza. Valerie Bojinov continues his long return to fitness and should be available early in the new year.
With his full fitness returning he could once again be the key to City winning this game.
Blackburn do not appear to have any injury worries but are without the services of Robbie Savage, Stephen Warnock and Keith Treacy due to suspension.
lackburn however welcome back the giant centre back Christopher Samba from his one match suspension.
The Blackburn player could quite easily be playing in the Sky blue of City today, but the Paraguayan hitman has found the net as often as a metronome clicks back and forward.
City have failed to beet Blackburn at home in the premiership since its first season in January 2003.
ity have only managed three wins in nineteen premiership encounters with Blackburn, losing ten on the way as well.
ut the record at City is slightly better as Blackburn's victory was the first in six attempts.
Howard Webb - the best referee in the country I think at the moment. It is his second City game of the season; the first was the League Cup game at Bolton where he consulted his linesman to award the fortunate penalty. He is yet to send anyone of this season; and so after yesterday's flurry of red cards - what's the betting?
City to lose their 100% record but still able to get the draw. 1 - 1 with Petrov to score for City and Santa Cruz for Blackburn.
Liverpool at home this Sunday on Sky with a 4pm kick off.
Date:Thursday December 27 2007
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