Following a two week break City return to action on Wearside, hoping the confidence boosting win over Chelsea will inspire another match winning performance. With their batteries recharged, Roberto Mancini’s team will also be looking to capitalise on Sunderland’s poor form that was only lifted by the midweek win over Bolton.
It’s hard to argue against an unchanged side for City. Patrick Vieira is available again following his 3 match ban, though most fans will be dismayed to see him start the match. If we’re looking to close the game out, then bringing the veteran on from the bench would make a better way of re-introducing him to the pace of the Premier League.
If Mancini want’s to employ a more attacking formation than that at Chelsea, he could bring in Ireland to play behind Tevez, probably at the expense of Zabaleta. It will be interesting to see if Wright-Phillips or Adam Johnson gets to start on the right wing.
“Our family are Sunderland fans – not so much my mum and dad, but aunties and uncles and cousins. They will all be at the game but they’ll be sitting in the Sunderland end.
“Lots of my friends are Sunderland fans too. Most people at school were Sunderland supporters – a few were Newcastle and nobody was Boro! I’m sure I’ll be getting plenty of texts!”
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for Shaun, with a couple of excellent cameo appearances for City and England, followed by Ian Wright’s unhelpful comments on his contract talks. At least that didn’t appear to be getting him down on his Miami mini-break with Wayne and Micah.
As Sunderland are likely to play the physically imposing Jones and Bent in attack, it makes sense to continue with Kompany and Lescott in the centre of defence, even if Kolo Toure is now fully fit.
The centre of the Sunderland midfield will be weakened by the suspended Cana, while Cattermole is also struggling with a hamstring strain. Zenden may be required to play in the centre of midfield. If that’s the case, City should be confident of dominating this crucial area.
The key will be in getting sufficient support to Tevez. In all the games under Mancini there have been periods when the midfield has sat deep, leaving the forwards isolated. To much of this and we’re in danger of drawing or losing a game we should be looking to win.
With Darren Bent enjoying an excellent season and Kenwyne Jones having one of his better games on Tuesday, there’s a clear danger of Sunderland claiming a goal. Away from home, City are currently at their best when we strike first, then hit the opposition on the break. The Wolves and Chelsea games are the best examples.
Seeing Liverpool lose at Wigan following our win over Chelsea should have given everyone the extra belief required to push on for a Champions League place. It’s now down to the manager and team to show it, and record back-to-back away victories.
Blue Days line-up: Given, Richards, Bridge, Lescott, Kompany, de Jong, Barry, A Johnson, Bellamy, Ireland, Tevez.
Prediction: 3-0 to City.