Archive for December, 2010

Manchester City v Aston Villa: Match Preview

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

City of Manchester Stadium, Kick Off 3pm

Third placed Manchester City take on Aston Villa on Tuesday afternoon in what has been confirmed as a sold out Barclay’s Premier League game at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The hosts are coming off the back of an excellent 3-1 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday while Villa will be looking to bounce back from their same day defeat to Tottenham Hotspur.

Both James Milner and Gareth Barry will face the club which they formed an integral part of for a number of years, though City old boys Richard Dunne and Stephen Ireland look unlikely to face their former employers having fallen out of favour with Gerard Houllier.

Barry spoke this week about how important it is for City to concentrate on the next match and not

“For now though all we have to do is to concentrate on the challenge that Villa pose on Tuesday afternoon,” he said.

“It is not long to recover and they will not be happy that they lost at home to Spurs.

“It will be a tough game. We have found it hard at home because teams have come and sat deep and made it tough for us. We know too that Villa have a lot of pace on the counter. We have to be wary of that but we will be looking for three points.”

Defender Kolo Toure has completed his one match suspension for his red card against Everton but he may not feature in Roberto Mancini’s starting eleven due to injury with Joleon Lescott again deputising.

Villa welcomed promising youngster Fabian Delph back to the team against Spurs for the first time in ight months following a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, and the former Leeds United midfielder was understandably delighted to return to action.

“I feel brilliant – my knee feels fine,” he added. “Every other day I’m doing leg weights, so I’m keeping on top of everything.

“I’ve had seven or eight training sessions – I would have liked to have more but we felt I could play.

“I’m not as sharp as I’d like to be but that should come with games. Looking forward, hopefully I can get a few more games in and get a bit sharper.

“It’s all about improving and adding to my game with this gaffer and Gary McAllister and all the rest of the management. I think they can help me to do that.”

Former England striker Emile Heskey is a major doubt for the visitors having come off injured against Spurs, will both Ashley and Luke Young look set to remain sidelined.

City won the corresponding fixture 3-1 back in May despite going a goal down to a John Carew strike. Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Craig Bellamy all got on the scoresheet though to turn the game around.

On a personal note, the game represents my first visit to the City of Manchester Stadium since March 2006 when City beat Villa in an FA Cup replay thanks to goals from Giorgios Samaras and Darius Vassell. If you are at the game and see a guy in mid-twenties looking as happy as a pubescent teenager that has just discovered masterbation then it will most likely be me so do say hello.

Key Men:

Manchester City – Carlos Tevez

Obvious answer is obvious but the facts are there and Tevez’s value to the side is undisputed. The Argentine has now scored 12 league goals this season following his Boxing Day double against Newcastle, and a very average Aston Villa back four represents a great opportunity to add to that tally.

Aston Villa – Gabriel Agbonlahor

Despite being an England international, Gabriel Agbonlahor is not a very good player. He has pace in abundance but poor finishing means that he will never come close to being a top Premier League striker. However the danger with Agbonlahor is that his aforementioned pace can cause defenders to panic so City’s central pairing will need to be on their toes or they will be punished. In a team that is likely to feature Emile Heskey, it’s not to suggest that Agbonlahor is Villa’s only real goal threat up front.

Prediction:

City 2 (Tevez, Balotelli)

Aston Villa 1 (Downing)

Thanks go to xavi6 of ManCityFans.net for writing this excellent preview.

Manchester City vs. Everton: Match Preview

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Monday 20th December 2010
K.O 20:00

The relief most of us will feel in finally getting back to meaningful football after Tevezgate should be tempered by the opposition. This fixture has held little joy for City in recent years, with last season’s defeats being particularly hard to take. Perhaps the loss at Goodison became a bête-noir for Mancini, as seeing the side outmuscled and outfought by the Toffees seems to have set him along the road to putting together the kind of athletic, physically imposing side the Blues have become.

What made the encounters so acrimonious last season? The Lescott transfer saga was obviously a major factor, with Everton’s manager branding our pursuit of his player “disgusting”. Quite how making two bids for a player is considered disgusting aside, the real bad feeling was obviously a result of Moyes’ very public emasculation over this statement:

“Maybe City are having dialogue with somebody else, but it is not between me and City.
He said they were talking to people who make the decisions here. Well he knows who makes the decisions at Everton and it is me”

When you consider these words in the context of what actually happened it’s no surprise Moyes felt so bitter towards City. Who wouldn’t hate someone or something who pulled the rug out from under your feet in such emphatic fashion? It’s enough to consider feeling sorry for him.

Consider, mind, consider

The resentment seems to be very much at the front of Moyes’ thinking with his comments on the Tevez issue this week. Surely Evertonians are by now pretty sick of him harping on about Lescott and the past? Possibly it is an attempt to fire his players up, disguise the Toffees poor form this season or the players they have missing through injury and suspension, but whatever it is it’s wearing pretty thin and the Blues will be hoping to ram his words right back down his neck.

Team news for City is a bit of a mixed bag. Kolarov should return from suspension to reclaim the left back slot, and there are no real injury concerns for Mancini. On the downside, Nigel de Jong misses out due to picking up his fifth yellow card against West Ham, which is a worry as this would be exactly the type of match Nige would excel in. Anything else? No? Moving along then.

This is a huge fixture for City for many reasons. Chief may be the chance to go top for Christmas – something the club last achieved in 1929 – but there are plenty of other factors swirling around the fixture like so much snow in a blizzard.

• Can we break down a resolute, committed side who would be happy to leave Eastlands with a point?
• Who will come out on top physically in what is sure to be a combative, intense game?
• Will the Everton supporters ever realise the irony of singing “If you know your history” followed by “you’ve never won fuck all”?

Hopefully we will get some positive answers to the first two points, with a clinical City performance handing out a thoroughly deserved beating to Moyes&Co. Regarding the last point however, don’t hold your breath eh?

Thanks go to The Man In Blue of ManCityFans.net for writing this preview.

Juventus v Manchester City Europa League Preview

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

eJuventus v Manchester City

Thursday, 15 December 2010

Europa League, Group A.

With all the news coming out of Eastlands over the past few days you could be forgiven for forgetting that Manchester City actually have a European game on Thursday night.

While Roberto Mancini’s men have already qualified for the latter stages of the Europa League, the Italian will no doubt still be looking for a good result as he prepares to take on Juventus for his first game on home soil as a Premier League manager.

The sides played out a 1-1 draw when they met at the City of Manchester Stadium back in September when Vincenzo Iaquinta gave Juventus an early lead before Adam Johnson equalised.

Since then, Juve have been eliminated following another draw away to Lech Poznan in horrific conditions in round five so the final group game is very much about pride for the Old Lady.

“The Europa League game against Manchester City doesn’t mean anything for the standings, but it does mean alot for our pride,” said defender Leonardo Bonucci. “We want to do well and honour this competition until the end because we are Juventus, and we always go on the pitch to win.”

Juventus veteran Alessandro Del Piero echoed these sentiments, expecting his side to give their best despite the overall outcome already being a foregone conclusion.

“Although our thoughts are on the game against Chievo on Sunday, one game we are preparing to honour the Europa League is the one against Manchester City,” he said.

It has been confirmed that neither Tevez nor Mario Balotelli will travel to Turin for City and with Roque Santa Cruz having been omitted from the club’s European squad list, Mancini is a little light on options up front. Balotelli will not be involved due to the club wishing to protect the youngster from the same racial abuse that he has faced before from opposing fans in Italy.

Jo and Emmanuel Adebayor, who has ironically been linked with a move to Juventus recently, have not featured in full training this week so it could open the door for youngster Alex Nimely to be involved in some capacity.

There may not be such selection headaches come January with Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko keen on swapping the Bundesliga for the Premier League according to reports.

Tevez’s controversial agent, Kia Joorabchian, said that his Argentine client will continue to play for City and give 100% if he selected.

“Carlos has never said he is not going to play so those rumours are rubbish,” said Joorabchian. “He will play if picked and 100% do his best. He feels that is important every time he puts on the shirt.”

How fans will react should Tevez line out in blue again remains to be seen but club legend Uwe Rosler has already made his feelings quite clear when he spoke to BBC Radio Manchester this week.

“I’d take the captaincy away, 100%,” he said.

“In the long term it is important that every player is totally committed to City. I would let him go as long as the price is right.”

Losing a player of Tevez’s calibre would put a serious dent in plans to feature in May’s Europa League Final which will be played in Dublin, but first a suitor will need to be found for a man who reportedly earns in excess of £250,000 per week after tax.

Prediction:

Juventus 1 (Quagliarella)
Manchester City 1 (Silva)

West Ham United v Manchester City Match preview

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

city v west ha

Fixture: West Ham v Manchester City
Venue: Boleyn Ground
Time: KO 3pm
Date: 11/12/2010

Top of the League?

If Manchester City win this fixture they will go level on points at the top of the table, as the all the other teams around them are playing each other, Chelsea play at Tottenham on Sunday with the Salford Swamp Dwellers at home to the Gunners on Monday night. This is a big chance for Manchester City to stake a claim to the top spot and begin to drive some forward momentum, as our fixtures over the Xmas and new year period will be coming thick and fast. No matter what happens, you can guarantee that City will receive negative representation in the Media and they will not be the main event on Match of The Day! Sadly, these days, some things are more predictable than the infamous typical city unpredictability. The Media hacks in the written media have their claws out for City and aim to put a negative spin on anything to do with Manchester City FC. I may seem a tad sensitive, however, not without just cause. anyway………

The Match

City are in reasonably good form and go should go into this game in a confident mood. Although they only registered the one goal last weekend, they did produce a hatful of chances and totally played Bolton off the park, hitting the post and the bar on the way to a very well deserved 3 points. Amazingly, Kevin Davies seemed to have a blindfold on for most of the game as he tweeted in poor taste last weekend and embarrassed himself so much that he issued an apology the following day. Let’s hope the ENGLAND INTERNATIONAL (Pffft) learns from his silly mistakes, I also hope Sepp Blatter learns from his, however, I will not hold my breath. Anyway, I digress, so back to the game. Only Arsenal can boast more points and goals than Manchester City away from home this season in the premier league. City do however have an Achilles heel in the absence of their talismanic captain Carlos Tevez, who picked up his 5th yellow card of the season against Bolton Wanderers last week and is serving a 1 match suspension. City are also without the Services of Aleksander Kolarov who was sent off last weekend after receiving 2 yellow cards. Apart from those two noticeable absentees, City may have a fully fit squad to select from, if want away striker Emmanuel Adebayor passes a fitness test. However, new Daily Telegraph columnist “Douglas Higginbotham” has advised that Adebayor was not a participant in the latest training session and was still receiving treatment, which meant he missed the City reserves 5-0 spanking of the City A team in training.

doug and lawro
Doug trying to work out lawro’s predictions

The opponents

The premier league basement club West Ham United seemed to have turned the proverbial corner with their recent upturn in results, convincingly beating Wigan 3-1 and thumping the Salford swamp dwellers 4-0. They were hoping to continue their momentum last weekend against Sunderland but they were sunk by a single goal by England new boy and supposed Manchester City Target Jordan Henderson. West Ham’s main problem seems to be their poor defence, despite having the England centre back Matthew Upson in their ranks. The England reserve keeper Rob Green is the premier leagues busiest goalkeeper with a total of 98 saves, which probably goes to show that the defence is largely full of holes. I am Sure Avram grant will be focusing on the likes of new Manchester City recruit Mario Balotelli and the mercurial magician & back to back player of the month David Silva. This will not be an easy fixture by any stretch of the imagination and although West Ham are struggling this season they do have a squad of very capable premiership players.

West Ham Fan and www.mancityfans.net poster WALMAI graciously gave us his views on the upcoming fixture, so I thought I would include this from a Hammers fan perspective.

Welcome to the Basement and Collect 3 points. by Walmai

That’s certainly the expectation, I’d have thought if we conducted a straw poll tonight about my team’s chances.

Time was, when I started my posting odyssey on www.mancityfans.net, that WHUFC and MCFC were broadly matched. This was the season pre-Mark Hughes, by recollection, when we finished one place above Sven Goran Eriksson’s team (that saucy Riverside capitulation might have had something to do with that).

Since then, the two teams have very much gone off in a different direction.

Watch out for:

Piquionne - if Avram actually selects him to start in front of Carlton Stroll – his height and skill can cause most defences a few problems

Hines – aka Billy Whizz, as much as he has only just come back to the bench from a long haul on the treatment table

Obinna – who may be a bit haphazard, but he’s got the running and occasional trickery to conjure an opening

Parker – if you’re dawdling with the ball in the middle or not following the runners into your box, and

Tomkins – who has a bit of composure at the back and is getting better all the time.

The rest of our squad is like a speck on the radar of football as an international concept, in comparison with the galacticos who now play in your colours.

As much as I am obviously concentrating on the wrong end at the moment, it is fair to say that the Premiership this season is shaping up to go right to the wire. All of the other teams alongside whom you occupy the top 4 are capable of being beaten, or at least held. Mancini’s efforts to ensure that you lose as little as possible may not be the most thrilling way of winning the title, but I reckon that it allows you to keep the pace with something left in the tank.

So, from 1700 next Saturday onwards, god speed City. Just try to afford us a degree of respect beforehand eh? A leaf from returning hero Carlito’s book, perhaps?

crlos

Ones to Watch

City – Joe Hart

babylons
Joe has a firm grasp on the situation

Joe has been steady in goal this season but has managed a few blips and he needs to cut those out of his game. He is England’s No1 and needs to keep up the level of performance that got him there.

West Ham – Robert Green

rob
Rob has an itchy arm

Green is a very good keeper but is prone to the odd cock up, he will need to be on his toes to stop Super Mario Balotelli from adding to his goal tally.

Prediction

West Ham 0 – 3 Manchester City

A big thanks to West Ham Fan Walmai for providing his insight into WHU for this preview on behalf of www.mancityfans.net