Preview: Hull City v Manchester City
Roberto Mancini’s side take on a Hull City team buoyed from their midweek draw against Chelsea. The Tigers have been named as one of the ‘easy’ teams that Mancini is facing on his introduction to English football, but it’s worth bearing in mind that United are the only visiting team to have won at the KC Stadium since September.
Following the jaded performance against Portsmouth, Mancini will be pleased to welcome some old and new faces. Wayne Bridge, Patrick Vieira, Joleon Lescott and Adam Johnson will all be in a Mancini squad for the first time.
While news of Wayne Bridge’s return to the side is providing plenty of copy for those more interested in the private lives of footballers, it’s hopefully good news for City on the pitch. The full-back enjoyed some decent performances earlier in the season, but criticism was never far away from a poorly organised defence.
It will be fascinating to see how he performs under Mancini. Given the improvements in Micah Richards and Kolo Toure, the portents are good. The arrival of Mancini could be good news for the World Cup prospects of both Bridge and Lescott.
Bridge may not be the greatest defensively, but he is still the best left-back at the club. With Garrido and Sylvinho there seemed to be a reluctance to play either Petrov or Robinho on the left flank for fear of us being to light-weight. Hopefully the return of Bridge will see Petrov restored to his best position.
Further changes to the defence will be required with both Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards absent. Pablo Zabaleta is set to wear a mask over his broken nose in order to play. In the centre, it would be a surprise if Lescott’s fit enough to start. Boyata seems to have moved ahead of Onuoha in the pecking order, and his additional strength in the air would be useful alongside the shorter Toure.
“Kolo is the captain of the team and he was the captain before I arrived and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t intend to change anything.
“Having said that, I want my team to have many captains out on the pitch, but only one player can wear the captainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s armband Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and that is Kolo.”
Midfield was the area of most problems against Portsmouth, and it will be interesting to see if Vieira gets a game. With City due to play Bolton on Tuesday, Vieira may be another Bellamy in not being risked twice a week.Ã‚Â In which case it may make sense to go with Barry against Hull, and save Vieira for the Bolton game.
It was a surprise not to see Shaun Wright-Phillips against Portsmouth, and it could be any two from Petrov, Bellamy, Johnson, Wright-Phillips and Ireland on the flanks. With a two man attack in the form of Adebayor and Tevez, it’s looking increasingly difficult for Ireland to break into the starting eleven.
Hull can be an energetic side at home, typified by Stephen Hunt, with a physical presence up front in the form of Altidore and Vennegoor of Hesselink. Expect City to look to contain them, before hitting them on the counter-attack, in a similar vein to the Wolves match.
Their defence could be undone by the moments of skill which Tevez, Adebayor and Bellamy are capable of. At the back for us, Zabaleta versus Hunt should be a feisty battle, but one which the Argentine is capable of winning.
Despite Hull’s position in the bottom three, a win is far from a foregone conclusion, as Chelsea found out. Yet with Liverpool playing Everton, and Tottenham entertaining Villa, this could be an opportunity for City to move into the coveted fourth place.
Blue Days line-up: Given, Zabaleta, Bridge, Toure, Boyata, de Jong, Barry, Bellamy, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Adebayor.
Prediction: 3-0 to City.
- Would Pablo Zabaleta be the first City player in a mask? Can anyone recall any others? There may have been a few who would have looked better in one.