Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs West Brom

Mancini expected to rest key players ahead of FA Cup Final

By Aaron Leggott

Ahead of the penultimate home league game of the season, Roberto Mancini has once again expressed his frustration at his team's league campaign, but knows that they must finish the season off as strongly as possible.

The Blues face three more league fixtures as they bid to cement second place - whilst also competing in their second FA Cup final in three years this weekend. Mancini said:

"I am not satisfied as I wanted to win the Premier League, but now we cannot do anything about that, we cannot change it.

"But in the end we are in the cup final and we are in second position, so we can be satisfied. But when you start the season you want to win the league."

Late but great: Dzeko celebrates injury time winner against West Brom in October
Official MCFC Facebook

Despite Mancini's hopes to secure second in the Premier League, he is expected to make a number of changes ahead of Saturday's game against Wigan.
Edin Dzeko could start against the team who felt his force in the corresponding fixture, as he played the part of super sub in October to give City a 2-1 win at the Hawthorns. 

Regulars Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Matija Nastasic could all well be rested, whilst the Baggies are without Marc Antoine Fortune who is suspended for their trip to the Etihad Stadium.

West Brom's form has slipped ever since their Premier League status was secure, with pundits not expecting to see them grab only a second win in seven games.

Below are highlights of the game in October which saw City grab a late winner:

My thoughts

Mancini is expected to make a number of changes in order to rest his key players ahead of the FA Cup final this weekend and I can see the likes of Aguero and Yaya Toure missing out against the Baggies.

Gareth McAuley
Official WBA Facebook
A quick congratulations to Steve Clarke's side though. They are one of the best teams I have seen play us this season and were extremely unlucky at the Hawthorns back in October - and I expect a similar challenge tonight.

They have done magnificently this season and are set to finish in their highest ever league position in the Premier League - a brilliant achievement for a club whose fans surely want some stability now. 

Romelu Lukaku has been one of the signings of the season for me - even if it is a loan move. The parallels between the Belgian and Didier Drogba are stark and Chelsea have got themselves a real player there. 

He will be the biggest threat to City if he starts, but I have also liked the look of Gareth McAuley this year. I think he was awarded with West Brom's Player of the Season award and from what I've seen of him - he has solidified himself as an integral part of Clarke's team and he will be tough to get past tomorrow night.

However, their recent form has been poor - with only one win in six - and you can tell that their players have taken an early holiday. I thoroughly expect City to continue their unstoppable form at the Etihad Stadium and  secure Champions League football for another season after tomorrow night. 

Prediction: City 3-0 West Brom

In the spotlight...

Ahead of the game, I spoke to West Brom fan Joe Chapman (@jcwba16) as we discussed the threat of Yaya Toure, Steve Clarke's maiden season at the Hawthorns and the case of Peter Odemwingie.

The last game between the sides saw Edin Dzeko become super sub as he turned the game around to give City a win at the Hawthorns. Do you think he will have a similar impact this time around?

Joe: Possibly, but unlike last time I can't see us taking it to the 90th minute, and I don't see him (Dzeko) starting. On the other hand, Aguero and Tevez may be rested for the FA Cup Final, so there's a chance he may get a run out.

West Brom were extremely unlucky not to get at least a point in the previous game, can you see the Baggies getting a positive result at the Etihad tomorrow?

Joe: At home we're a handful, but I fear for us at the Etihad. I was gutted in the reverse fixture, I really felt we did enough to get something.

Steve Clarke has had a great impact upon your team since becoming manager, how would you evaluate this season for West Brom overall?

Joe: Without doubt we've overachieved! Eighth place is a position any WBA fan would have taken pre-season, now we've got to make sure we tie Clarke down long-term.

It was well publicised a few months back... so what were your thoughts on the Odemwingie saga?

Joe: It's a real shame. He could have been a legend at our club. He was the top scorer for the last two seasons and our highest ever Premier League scorer - but the fans aren't forgiving, and he will almost certainly be moved on in the summer.

Key man: Romelu Lukaku
Official WBA Facebook

Who will be your key player tonight and why?

Joe: I know he's not ours, but Lukaku has been awesome this season. He'll be a handful, as will Shane Long and Youssouf Mulumbu. Gareth McAuley is dangerous from set pieces.

Predicted West Brom line up?

Joe: (4-3-3) Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu, Dorrans; Rosenberg, Lukaku, Long

Who would you say is City's biggest threat to West Brom and why?

Joe: I'm a big fan of Yaya Toure. It goes without saying he'll be a threat, as will Tevez. All depends on Mancini's selection ahead of the Cup Final!


Joe: 2-0 City

Thanks to Joe for answering the questions and I wish his team the best of luck next season!

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You can also follow Aaron on Twitter: @aaron_leggott

(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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