Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Saturday, August 22, 2009
City of Manchester Stadium, Kick Off: 3pm
As Manchester City began their Premier League campaign last weekend with a win over Blackburn, defender Micah Richards must have felt like he was at a whole new club.
The England international was the sole survivor from the City side that suffered defeat to Aston Villa on the opening day of the 2008/09 season, a clear indication of the recent changes at Eastlands.
The crest on the shirt is still the same but Manchester City Football Club is hardly recognisable to even the most avid of fan after the dramatic events of the last twelve months.
Gone are the free transfer acquisitions and lower league hopefuls, and in their place have come genuine superstars to give the club one of the strongest squads in the league.
However with the new found wealth and opportunity comes inevitable expectation and pressure, and the time has come to deliver.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy was the latest in a long list of outsiders to have their opinion on the City situation this week, though his was slightly more complimentary than the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson have been.
“The name’s the same and City still have a great set of fans but it’s almost like it’s not the same club,” he said.
Yet only three of City’s new players actually started against Blackburn.
“If you just cobble a team together, I’m not bothered who they are or who the coach is, it’s difficult getting them organised and cohesive.”
“City are a solid team, not just a team of individuals like the Harlem Globetrotters.”
Carlos Tevez could be in line for his first competitive City start this weekend with injury doubts over Emmanuel Adebayor and Robinho, who have groin and ankle complaints respectively.
The Argentine international showed no ill effects from his recent heel injury in the midweek 1-0 friendly win over Barcelona.
“It was important Carlos got an hour under his belt. He came through that with flying colours,” said Mark Hughes.
“He looked strong and could have played longer in fact. But it is important we do not expose him to 90 minutes too soon. I think we have done it in the right way and he is probably ready now.”
Full back Wayne Bridge is expected to recover from his hamstring strain in time for the game.
Last Saturday’s away win over Blackburn at Ewood Park gave city boss Mark Hughes confirmation that his side are moving in the right direction.
“You sense there is a change in mentality in the group. Last year we were not strong enough in that department,” said Hughes.
“We’ve had a big turnaround in personnel. About 14 to 15 players have gone out of the club. It changes the dynamic of the dressing room.
“We want to play entertaining football and I think we did on most occasions at home last year. We are attack-minded. If we keep our home form strong and improve our away form even by a smaller percentage we will have a better season than last year.”
Visitors Wolves meanwhile come into the game on the back of their first win of the season away to Wigan.
Andy Keogh’s early strike was enough to secure the three points for the newly promoted side who had suffered defeat to West Ham in their opening game.
Injuries have robbed them of Kevin Foley, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, Michael Kightly and Chris Iwelumo who were all crucial figures in their Championship winning campaign, though Irish international Kevin Doyle is fit enough to be included in the squad.
Previous Meeting –
Manchester 3 – 3 Wolverhampton Wanderers, April 10, 2004
Man City scorers: Anelka 25, Sibierski 39, Wright-Phillips 90
Wolves scorers: Kennedy 13, Cort 23, Camara 78
Key Men –
City – Gareth Barry
Last weekend Mark Hughes chose to go without a holding midfielder in his starting line up in favour of an extra attacking player. The 4-4-2 system was something City fans hadn’t seen properly in a while and there were times when the defence looked completely exposed because of it.
Both Barry and Stephen Ireland have attacking tendencies but something has to give in order to give the back four the required protection. If Barry takes the responsibility upon himself to sit a bit deeper then there’s no problem. However if he wanders too often then the Wolves midfield could do some serious damage. Keep an eye on him off the ball.
Wolves – Michael Mancienne
The on-loan Chelsea man had a great game against Wigan midweek and will need to be on his toes again to cope with the threat of City’s exciting forward line. If Adebayor plays then he will be a difficult proposition for the young defender due to his pace, strength, and tendency to drop deep to receive the ball.
Manchester City (from): Given, Zabaleta, Dunne, Toure, Ben Haim, Onuoha, Bridge, De Jong, Barry, Ireland, Wright-Phillips, Weiss, Robinho, Adebayor, Bellamy, Tevez, Richards, Garrido, Etuhu, Vidal, McGivern, Petrov, Benjani, Taylor.
Wolves (from): Hennessey, Hahnemann, Ikeme, Stearman, Berra, Craddock, Mancienne, Zubar, Ward, Elokobi, Hill, Halford, Surman, Henry, Milijas, Jones, Jarvis, Edwards, Keogh, Vokes, Doyle, Spray.
City 3 – 1 Wolves
Wolves have too many players out to pose a serious threat to City who generally dominate at home anyway. A lack of firepower will be Wolves’ main undoing, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see them nick a goal early from a set piece to go ahead. However, the array of talent at Mark Hughes’ disposal should see three points secured with goals from Barry, Tevez and Ireland.
A big thank you to our poster Xavi6 for writing our first home game preview of the season. You can discuss this and many other City and football related topics at www.mancityfans.net.