Saturday, 2 November 2013

Match Preview: Manchester City vs Norwich City

Hart set to be dropped for City's first home game in three weeks

By Aaron Leggott

Following a 2-0 victory against Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup, City are set to welcome Norwich City to the Etihad Stadium as Manuel Pellegrini's men prepare to play their first home game in three weeks.
Photo: Official MCFC Facebook

The win during midweek saw City progress to the quarter-finals of the cup - where they will play Leicester City - a performance which saw Costel Pantilimon replace a out-of-form Joe Hart in the goal. 

In Pellegrini's defence, Pantilimon was always expected to start in the league cup tie, but there is set to be a surprise as the big Romanian has been reported to be replacing Hart against Norwich to make his first Premier League start in City colours.

Of course, the Blues are expected to pick themselves up on Saturday after last weekend's calamitous defeat against title rivals Chelsea, with the likes of Sergio Agüero, Matija Nastasić and Yaya Touré all ready to return to the starting line-up after being rested during midweek. 

Norwich travel to the Etihad on the back of a 0-0 draw against Cardiff City, and it will take a miracle for the Canaries to get anything in Manchester - with some bookmakers giving odds at 18/1 just for Chris Hughton's side to win.

Hughton will be boosted by the news that John Ruddy has signed a new four year deal this week, and with Hart set to be dropped - the Norwich number one will be hoping to put in a good performance with friendlies against Chile and Germany approaching for England.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel has been ruled out of the game after sustaining a foot injury, whilst Alexander Tettey will also miss out due to injury.

The last meeting between the two sides saw Norwich come out victorious in a 3-2 victory at the end of last season.

My thoughts

This is probably a game that Manuel Pellegrini could only have wished for after such a tough run in October. 

Four away games against West Ham, CSKA Moscow, Chelsea and Newcastle wasn't exactly the easiest of runs, but a return of three wins and a defeat is a brilliant feat. 

Of course, that run should have included a draw instead of a defeat - which brings me on to the selection issue in terms of who plays in goal.

Costel Pantilimon, after conceding just one goal in his last six games, is expected to replace Joe Hart and in truth deserves his chance. The issue surrounding Hart is a tough one, and I don't think there's are sort of arrogance on his part - just a serious lack of confidence.

He needs to realise that he's not undroppable and I think a few games sat on the bench will do him good. Pantilimon is good enough to play against the likes of Moscow and Sunderland and I think he'll get the nod until the next international break.

We should be beating Norwich fairly easily though, and with the likes of Agüero and Negredo at Pellegrini's disposal, it should be a routine victory.

Prediction: City 3 - 0 Norwich

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2013

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