Preview: Manchester City v Birmingham City
Roberto Mancini’s side will look to complete a satisfactory week of three Premier League matches with a second victory. Anything less and the Italian’s critics will once again be circling.
Such are the fine margins for City’s manager these days. In terms of Champions League qualification, there is as much riding on the Birmingham result as that against United.
Expect this game to see us attacking more. We’ll need to, given that Birmingham’s recent success has been based on defensive organisation. There’s little doubt that Alex McCleish would be the happier manager with a 0-0 after this game.
Whilst the line-up for the United fixture was quite straightforward to predict, there’s likely to be a good deal of rotation for our third Premier League game in a week. Yaya, Barry and Silva all lacked sharpness against United, and may benefit from starting on the bench.
Tevez may not be 100% fit, while Adebayor has been in decent goalscoring form of late. The Togolese ought to start if his relationship with the manager has survived the 30 second token appearance on Wednesday.
Whenever Mancini changes from the 4-2-3-1 formation the team tends to struggle, as we last saw at Wolves. As a consequence it’s to be hoped he simply changes the personnel within it.
If we’re looking to really attack, then Tevez could play in the central creative role, so long as he’s fit enough to start. It’s a position he plays well, and would dramatically increase our goal threat.
Adam Johnson would give us the attacking thrust down a flank, which we might need against Birmingham. Behind him, a refreshed Richards could get a game to give Boateng a break.
On the left flank it will be interesting to see if Kolarov gets his first start. If the attacking Serbian does play then it would make sense to have Milner in front of him to provide some defensive cover.
Perhaps the biggest concern is our sluggish central midfield. If Vieira can play like he did in the home game against Poznan rather than the away fixture, then it might be as well to start with him. Barry, Yaya, Silva and Boateng could all be brought on if required.
“We are in fourth place but everything depends on us and we can only think about the Birmingham game. It will be a difficult game, I watched them play Stoke the other night and they are a good side, with a good manager.”
Birmingham aren’t doing quite so well this season, but they should not be taken lightly. For this reason the defensive wall of Kolo, Kompany and de Jong should remain in place. Defending deep could be risky against a side with the aerial threat of Zigic and Jerome.
This match represents a great opportunity to consolidate fourth place prior to a week off. A performance similar to that against West Brom should see a similar outcome.
Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Richards – K Toure – Kompany – Kolarov
de Jong – Vieira
A Johnson – Tevez – Milner
Prediction: 3-0 to City.