Preview: Blackburn Rovers v City
Our injury crisis may not be as bad as some are fearing. Obviously Santa Cruz and Michael ‘couple of weeks away’ Johnson are out, along with Vincent Kompany. Of the rest, Given, Toure, Bellamy, Tevez and Adebayor could all be fit enough to play.
The midfield has looked strongest in pre-season with De Jong alongside Barry and Ireland playing in front. For a tricky away game, this would provide a solid platform even if it allows for only one striker. Bellamy is probably fittest despite being AWOL for Wales and could well be the man if Adebayor has a problem with his groin.
If Adebayor is fit, then he may get his first competitive start, with his extra height being useful in defending Blackburn’s set pieces.Ã‚Â Robinho and Wright-Phillips could play the flanks, though Petrov and Tevez could both make an appearance from the bench.
If Tevez has been flying in training, Hughes could spring a surprise, which may mean a place on the bench for Wright-Phillips.
With Toure likely to be fit, he could be partnered by Dunne with the Irishman’s strength in the air getting him the nod over Onuoha. The fear is Dunne having to play on the left side of central defence.
I have reservations about Toure’s lack of inches, making his selection a bit of a gamble for this game, but I think Hughes will want to play his new signing. Personally I’d go for Dunne and Onuoha against an Allardyce team with Onuoha taking the left hand side.
With the aerial threat of Blackburn, Richards could get the nod ahead of Zabaleta despite an excellent performance by the Argentinian against Celtic.
“We are just looking forward to the first game of the season,”
“That is the challenge for everyone. We are really chomping at the bit. We are six weeks or so into our pre-season and we just want to get on with it.”
“For us it’s about trying to spoil their party, being that they think that they can come to a place like Blackburn Rovers and beat us comfortably with that kind of spending.
“We’re certainly going to go all out to make sure that’s not the case.”
“It’s important we do our best and kick lumps out of them Ã¢â‚¬â€œ fairly, of course.”
To say this match and this season are hotly anticipated seems an understatement with every man and his dog currently expressing an opinion. With that in mind, I’ve spared the punditry and focused on the possible team. Here’s just a few of the views from elsewhere:
Rather than Hughes sticking the words of David Dunn on our dressing room door for motivation, maybe he should put them on the referee’s. It’s up to the officials to make sure any foul play is properly punished and we can get on with playing football. That’s what wins respect for the men in black.
Given, Richards, Toure, Dunne, Bridge, De Jong, Barry, Ireland, Robinho, Wright-Phillips, Bellamy.
Subs: Taylor, Zabaleta, Adebayor, Petrov, Tevez, Onuoha, Ben Haim.
Prediction: We’ve only won once at Ewood Park in the Premier League, and that was inÃ‚Â 2003 (cracking winner by Anelka incidentally), so let’s go for a 3-1 win!