Saturday, 17 September 2011

Fulham v Manchester City

Both Fulham and City go into the game on Sunday having played European games midweek. City played 24 hours before Fulham though and their strength in depth will be a major factor this weekend as we can reasonably expect Mancini to shuffle the pack again.

Fulham have yet to clock up a win in the league and find themselves in 18th after the first 4 games and only 2 goals scored, not what new manager Martin Jol will have wanted. Their involvement in the Europa League is bound to have an affect on their performances this season though as they had to return to competitive games at the end June rather than August like the majority of the Premier League.

Coming up with a starting 11 for City will be almost like trying to pick the winning lottery numbers, Mancini just has so many options at his disposal. Although the centre of midfield is hit with a few injuries at the moment with only Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry the two players match fit, although Pablo Zabaleta can deputise if need be. The biggest question though is who will Mancini pick to start 'up front'? Silva, Nasri, Aguero, Dzeko, Tevez, Balotelli, Johnson are the players available.

Balotelli has yet to start a game this season and has just returned from the trial of one of Italy's crime bosses where he was required to give evidence following his walk around Naples last year. There is (unlike the media will tell you) nothing that links him having any criminal dealings with the Mafia in any way.

The next most rested players are Carlos Tevez and Adam Johnson having only appeared as substitutes in the 2nd half of City's Champions League clash against Napoli. Although Tevez hardly covered himself in glory, and apart from one winding run which came to nothing he didn't appear to be the same player he was last season.

Whoever Bobby picks, it will be a strong team that walks out onto the pitch, and as we also saw against Wigan there may be scope for one of the younger lads to make an appearance from the bench. It obviously wont be anyone that played in the  NextGen Series two days ago but there are several player who weren't involved who may be given the chance. Maybe one of either Jeramy Helan, Frederic Veseli or Abdul Razak?

The same fixture last season saw City produce one of their best performances in the 2010-11 calendar with a 4-1 victory at Craven Cottage with Tevez scoring either side of goals from Zabaleta and Yaya Toure. But despite City's obvious squad depth and blistering start to the Premiership campaign, nothing is ever a given in the Premier League, there are no easy games.

We could be in for another glorious display but with every game the players can never take anything for granted. One thing that Mancini will want to see is the killer instinct that has been lacking for so many years. Against Spurs City took the foot off the gas for a while before Dzeko scored his last minute goal to close the game. Bobby wants to see the team play to score all the time, especially as there is only goal difference that separates City and United in the table.

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