Preview: Manchester City v Blackburn Rovers
Fourth place in the league and a fourth consecutive win are the targets for City tonight as we take on a Blackburn side who haven’t won in 8 games. Moving in to the Champions League places would be a real statement of intent in what has been a quiet weekend at the top of the Premier League.
Roque Santa Cruz and Shaun Wright-Phillips could be in contention after returning from injuries, although their match fitness may be questionable. Those missing will include Onuoha, Ireland, Lescott, Bridge, Toure, Adebayor and new boy Patrick Vieira.
Dedryck Boyata did well against Middlesbrough, but Richards and Kompany are the more likely centre-back pairing with Zabaleta at right-back.
Sylvinho’s greater positional sense may get him the nod ahead of Garrido for the left-back slot. It would be a relief if Bridge were back in time for the Everton game next weekend.
With Vieira ruled out with a sore calf, de Jong and Barry must be favourites to start in midfield. In front of them Bellamy and Tevez are sure to play. It will be interesting to see if they play up front together, or if Santa Cruz comes in to partner Tevez.
That would leave Bellamy to battle it out for one of the wide positions with Petrov, Robinho and possibly Wright-Phillips. Given his lack of fitness, Shaun’s more likely to start on the bench. His tracking back will be of more value against Everton and Manchester United.
It will be interesting to see the extent of Robinho’s involvement now that transfer talk surrounding the Brazilian has quietened down for a change. Carlos Tevez, Barclays player of the month for December, is currently the main man and will be looking to continue his excellent goalscoring run.
“I’m here to score goals and I want even more this season. It has gone well for me so far, especially in the last few weeks.
“Our aim is to get into the top four, and I want to play a part of that.”
Sam Allardyce’s sides are always strong from set pieces and this could be the main concern for a City side lacking in height. Blackburn have only won once away in the league this season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them adopt a defensive gameplan.
In Mancini’s games so far, the opposition have pushed us back and City have relied on new-found defensive resilience before scoring on the break. It will be fascinating to see how Mancini goes about breaking down a more defensive side who will be happy to go home with a point.
Blue Days line-up: Given, Zabaleta, Sylvinho, Richards, Kompany, de Jong, Barry, Robinho, Petrov, Tevez, Bellamy.
Prediction: 3-0 to City.