Manchester City vs Wigan Athletic Official MCF.Net Preview
Saturday 17th January.
Venue: City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester.
With the events of the past week, it’s almost a surprise to find that saturday, and Wigan Athletic, are upon us.
The Blues must now put their efforts to ruin football aside, and attempt to ruin the record of one of the top flight’s form teams.
This will be the eighth premiership meeting between the two sides, and Wigan are yet to lose to the Blues. This has been a fixture that three City managers have tried and failed to win, the most recent occasion back in september, where an immaculately choreographed tumble from Palacios “earned” Wigan a penalty that Zaki converted for a two one win. Depressing as it is, the hoodoo that the Latics have over City has to end sometime, and could be blown out of the water if the right City turns up.
Palacios: blown out of the water?
Wigan arrive in Manchester on the back of an impressive first half of the season, which has seen the Lancashire side to seventh in the league. They lost a narrow game 1-0 against the red one-fifth of Manchester on wednesday, but won their previous game against Spurs by the same scoreline.
City’s form has been inconsistent to say the least; scintillating at times (the 5-1 mauling of Hull the most recent example); moribund at others, as the Nottingham Forest debacle so starkly illustrated. City’s last league game, due to Portsmouth’s state of the art facilities failing to cope with the siberian temperatures of last week, was the 2-2 draw with Blackburn on the 28th of december.
Robinho returns for City after a niggling ankle problem, and new signing Wayne Bridge should make his debut at left-back. Stevie Ireland serves a one match ban, whist Shaun Wright-Phillips faces a late fitness test after a hamstring injury. Didi Hamann joins the list of long-term absentees after a training ground toe injury.
Wigan have no real injury problems, with Oliver Kapo and Michael Brown returning to contention.
Wayne Bridge: The ex-Chelsea man will be out to show the Blues faithful what he can do, and if he succeeds in keeping Valencia quiet and cutting off the right wing supply to heskey and Zaki, he will be well on his way.
Robinho: Who else? With all the talk of Brazilian internationals who may or may not be joining City this week, Wigan would be foolish not to remember one Robson de Souza. The City forward is fit again, sitting second place in the premiership scoring charts, and has the ability to win any match. The Latics defence will have their work cut out keeping him quiet.
The Ecuadorian winger scored a superb goal against the blues at the JJB in september, and is a player who can cause big problems if he is given the space to run at defences. City new boy Wayne Bridge will have his hands full on his debut, as Valencia will be a stern test of his crendentials at left back.
The Honduras midfielder is in talks with Tottenham over a 14 million pound transfer; If he plays, this could well be his last game in Wigan colours. If he is missing from the line-up, Wigan will be deprived of his tenacious influence in centre midfield, a hefty blow to their chances.
Wigan have been playing well and are seventh in the table on merit. They have been solid, well organised and effective all season. They put in a great performance against City’s poor relations on wednesday, and were extremely unlucky not to get anything from the match. However, the impending loss of one of their best players in Palacios will be bound to affect the team, as will as their exertions in midweek. City need to capitalise on these points, and apply a high tempo to their play from the start. If the City full backs can prevent crosses into the box, and Kompany and Co. can control the midfield, the Blues will have a good chance of getting 2009’s league calender off to a good start.
More of this please
With thanks to The Man In Blue of ManCityFans.Net for this preview