Friday, 11 May 2012

City vs QPR: Match Preview

Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images Europe

Let's not forget Yaya's birthday present!!

By Dave Walker

There’s a birthday party with a difference being planned in Manchester this weekend – 47,000 invited guests but the onus is on the host to supply the perfect present.

Birthday boy Yaya Toure hits 29 years of age on Sunday, yet it’ll be down to him to bear gifts for the partygoers who descend on his ‘house’ in M11 3FF and send them home happy. 

The Ivorian colossus and focal point of Manchester City’s surge to Premier League glory, could hardly have dreamed that May 13, 2012 would mark such a momentous day not just in his life, but in the lives of tens of thousands of success-starved City fans.

Stating the obvious – City are 90 minutes away from the greatest achievement in the club’s 118-year history – and it’s down to Yaya and his expensively assembled team mates to give Sheikh Mansour a massive return on his huge investment.

City will never have a better opportunity to reward their fanatical followers who have invested their own hard earned money, but perhaps more importantly, their precious time, supporting the team over decades of disappointment.

Relegation haunted Queen’s Park Rangers, resplendent with embittered ex-City boss Mark Hughes and a trio of Platt Lane Academy graduates Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Nedum Onouha, are all that stands between the Sky Blues and Premier League paradise.

Logically, Roberto Mancini’s men – complete with the best home record in the country  (52 points out of 54) should sweep aside QPR - the worst away team in the PL (11 points out of 54).

However, this season - like no other - has thrown up so many tales of the unexpected that City would be foolish to believe the match is won before kick-off on Sunday.

The spectre of years of under achievement, false dawns, the tag ‘Typical City’ and an unerring ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory will linger right up until the match is won and the day is done.

If, as anticipated that comes to pass at five o’clock Sunday afternoon, then rest assured the Etihad Stadium will go completely stark staring crazy with delight and the rising Blue Moon will rocket out of the stratosphere.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It only takes Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops to better City’s result in their match up with Sunderland and a cloak of despair and unimaginable anguish would be thrown over the Blue side of Manchester.

It cannot and must not be allowed to happen. It’s reassuring to hear the likes of Joleon Lescott, Roberto Mancini and man-of-the-moment Yaya, echoing that view with their utterances this week.

The levels of anticipation are palpable but for all of City’s sparking play which has rendered 90 goals scored and only 27 conceded this season, it will count for nothing if Rangers aren’t dispatched with clinical precision.

Having maintained their +8 goal advantage over Man Utd last weekend, a simple win should secure the title. Surely even Fergie can’t see the Reds winning by 10 goals at the Stadium of Light…albeit against a Sunderland side laden with an Old Trafford flavouring of Bardsley, O’Shea, Richardson, Brown and Campbell.

Manchester is the focus of the football world at the moment and as the sporting cliché goes, City must play the match and not the occasion.

The team’s remarkable resurgence since Easter, coupled with Fergie’s unfathomable flounderings against Wigan, Everton and City has created a gripping climax to the season.

If it runs true to form City will take the title with 89 points and a superior goal difference…which takes me back to the events of Sunday 23 October and a very poorly bird - a 6-1 to be precise!

Player watch

                                                  David Silva           vs          Joey Barton

             Photo 1: Alex Livesey/Getty Images Europe    Photo 2: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images Europe

Compare and contrast the principal creative sources of either side and it accentuates the present day City with that of the recent past.

The Spanish magician was sublime for two-thirds of the season and is now making a welcome return to form. The envy of every Premier League team, Silva personifies the classy success story that City have become.

And then there’s twittering Joey – snarling, sneering, opinionated and as odious as ever – he used to be the best we had to offer!

If Silva threads those sumptuous passes through to Sergio and Carlos to good effect, Joey could be chasing shadows on Sunday afternoon.

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You can also follow Dave on Twitter: @djwskyblu

(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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