Preview: Manchester City v Blackburn Rovers
Roberto Mancini will be desperate for a victory against Rovers as City look to repair the damage done by the last minute defeat at Sunderland. The England six will return buoyed by two victories with the national team, but three points on Saturday is more important in our bid for a Champions League place.
City dropped to ninth after the Sunderland result when a win would have kept them in fourth spot. It will now take a run of victories to climb the table with little room for error before we take on Chelsea at the end of the month.
The good news from the international break is that no-one has returned injured. This is just as well given the absences of Kolarov, Bridge and Balotelli. Intriguingly, Jerome Boateng could be set to play a part.
The news of Balotelli’s knee surgery illustrated once again the dangers posed by the bloated Europa League to a league campaign. Not only do the midweek fixtures tire players for the weekend, they give an extra opportunity to pick up injuries.
It’s surely no coincidence that Spurs, City and Villa who finished fourth, fifth and sixth last season all avoided lengthy European campaigns. The top three can afford the an depth in quality within their squads thanks to repeated years in the Champions League.
On Saturday it will be interesting to see if Mancini rests any players after their international exertions. Tevez and Silva have both had long haul flights, though neither played the full match when Argentina thumped Spain.
Of the England players, Adam Johnson is the one most susceptable to fatigue. Wright-Phillips will be fresher.
Milner is famed for his stamina and will be expected to play. Balotelli’s absence is likely to mean an extended spell on the left flank for Milner.
Gareth Barry is rarely rested even though he often looks like he could do with one. A steady performer he may be, but a lack of dynamism forces him to be at the top of his game when opponents up the pace.
As a result there’s a case for selecting Vieira who looked fresh in Romania and hasn’t had any international action. Likewise Adebayor will be raring to go and it will be interesting to see if Mancini gives the Togolese a start. Both these players have height and a physical presence that is handy against Sam Allardyce teams.
Despite speculation about Boateng, Joleon Lescott should continue at left-back, giving further muscle to the defence. With Micah Richards and Vincent Kompany, this should make up for Kolo Toure’s lack on inches against the Blackburn high ball.
Yaya and de Jong are automatic choices in midfield for important games, so once again it’s difficult to see a place for David Silva. Thus far he’s yet to adapt to the Premier League and should be eased in from the bench.
Having said that, it was overlooked by most people how he lost the ball and failed to track back in the build-up to the Sunderland penalty. Had it been Robinho, the Brazilian would have been slaughtered. Instead the blame was directed at Richards who was caught out by the deflected cross.
City can afford no such calamities against Rovers. Allardyce’s side have a poor record away from Ewood Park though they can be a tough nut to crack. A solid professional performance will be required with no taking it easy after the international break.
Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Richards – K Toure – Kompany – Lescott
de Jong – Vieira
Wright-Phillips – Y Toure – Milner
Prediction: 3-0 to City.