Monday, 26 December 2011

West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City

The season's festivities climaxed yesterday but as joyous as the occasion may be, many Blues throughout the land will have had a portion of their thoughts on something other than the Turkey; Boxing Day Football. City travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Brom in the next game of a tightly packed Christmas and New Year schedule.

After the rather unexpected cake walk that was City v Stoke earlier at the Etihad 5 days ago you would expect and maybe hope West Brom to put up a little more of a fight with them being on home turf. Sadly I half expect them to play like the away side and sit and defend in the hope they can withstand City's attacks for 90 minutes. I hope I'm wrong.

Woy Hodgson is tasked with stabilising the somewhat yo yo existence seen in recent years at the Hawthorns and at this stage of the season they are mid-table, and around halfway to safety with 21 points.

Unfortunately for West Brom, their home form isn't exactly exemplary, having lost 5 of their 8 games there this season. West Brom have also failed to get any points from any games against teams in the top 6. City have won 5 of their away games, only losing to Chelsea with 10 men 2 weeks ago. Unsurprisingly, the odds are clearly stacked heavily against the Baggies in this fixture.

Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie bare the majority of the responsibility when it comes to scoring goals. Both have scored 5 and 4 league goals respectively. England international Ben Foster will be hoping his defence can limit the number of chances City create, but I would think he may be a little busy.

His opposite number, and England number 1, Joe Hart, will also be hoping for a clean sheet which would be the 3rd in succession after shutting out Arsenal and Stoke prior to this game. Kompany returned to his imperious best in those games too, and will be wanting to continue and build on that form.

After impressing against Stoke, possibly partly due to the lack of defending he was required to do, Adam Johnson will also be hoping for another start. Mancini was clearly pleased with his contribution during the game though. Whether he gets his start or not is another matter. At the moment I would think he would take any time he can get and has a habit of coming on from the bench to score late on in games.

Who starts up front is a mystery and will partly depend on whether Dzeko is fit enough to play after turning his ankle in training before the Stoke game. Both Aguero and Balotelli have been in fine form though so either one should be able to do a job up front.

Micah Richards is the only other injury concern and with the number of games coming up it may be once again down to the man for all seasons, Zabaleta, to fill in at right back.

With all due respect to West Brom, I hope they put up more of a fight than Stoke, but unless they play out of their skin or City have a really off game then City should have another 3 points by the end of the day.

Twitter: @MikeWalsh1880
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