Man City away. Up until not long ago, a certified Happy Hunting Ground and a fixture we’d look forward to, the Abu Dhabi bling has put paid to that though. We’ve lost our last couple of games there, on both occasions though we left wondering how it happened. Last year we were Howard Webbed in a game that some think, due to Defoe not getting a toe to Bale’s cross at 2-2, more of a turning point to the season than 2-0 at Woolwich. The year before some profligate finishing and some not so fancy footwork from Crouch was our downfall.
“It’s not a bad time to play Man City” seems to be a common view. Thus far they’ve certainly not been the force they were last year, but with the resources at their disposal you take them lightly at your peril. Their defensive problems, especially at corners have been highlighted, it should be remembered though that we seem to have gone back to slinging the ball straight at the first man from set pieces despite having had some success earlier in the season when aiming deep for Caulker.
For us, one presumes that Caulker and Friedel will come back in and Gallas too despite his being at least partially responsible for multiple concessions against Chelski and Wigan and other options being available. Further up the field though it’s not quite so clear-cut. Sandro will hopefully be fit otherwise there’s a good chance that Barry, Milner and Toure will simply overpower us. Bale and Lennon are automatic choices and Defoe’s hat-trick on Thursday has made him untouchable too.
What combination of Sandro, Huddlestone, Adebayor, Livermore, Dempsey, Siggy and now Carroll to deploy will probably have Villas-Boas stroking his beard well into Saturday evening. My guess would be that if Sandro’s fit then he and Thudd will play behind Defoe and a deeper than usual Adebayor. If Sandro’s not available then the manager will probably want to make sure things are relatively secure defensively before thinking of risking anything further forward. Livermore with Thudd and one of Dempsey or Siggy behind Defoe is likely though the brave choice would be to squeeze Carroll in there somewhere. He would do wonders with regards to retaining possession if not gaining it.
Michael Oliver is down to referee.
Maicon is reportedly nearly fit to play. Fingers crossed. COYS.
Have something to tell us about this article?