MAN CITY v STOKE – PREVIEW: City’s Probable Team

16 May

And so, just three days after lifting a major trophy for the first time in 35 years, Man City’s destiny is in their own hands. The victory over Stoke at Wembley was incredible; the pure emotion at the final whistle was there for all to see, whilst the win against Tottenham was equally, if not more, important for the long-term future of the club.

That home win, a nervy 1-0 victory, assured us of finishing in the top four, but now we have the chance, after Arsenal’s capitulation against Aston Villa, of attaining third place and thus avoiding a potentially tricky qualifying round. Two wins from the final two matches of the season would see us achieve automatic Champions League qualification, a guaranteed place in the group stage.

And the first of those two matches is tomorrow night, ironically against Stoke. It will be a battle for the pair of managers, Roberto Mancini and Tony Pulis, to lift their players for this fixture, following so close on the footsteps as it does to Saturday’s emotional game. For the Blues, motivation should, in theory, not be an issue as it clear the advantages of finishing third brings, but for the visitors,  a match against the side which defeated them just three days ago is probably the last thing they want.

It will be interesting to see what side Mancini selects. There is obviously a major incentive for the players and the Italian will clearly want to finish third, but after such a mentally and emotionally sapping final, I’m sure there is the temptation to make a few changes. However, I’d expect the majority of the side to remain the same.

The likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Patrick Vieira, James Milner, Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko are all pushing to start, and a couple of them may get an opportunity. Mario Balotelli is out with a knee injury, whilst Carlos Tévez is likely to be on the bench after his Wembley exertions. David Silva is a major doubt, so it could be a new look front three of Milner, Johnson and Dzeko.

Here is the side Mancini could select:

Manchester City 4-2-3-1 football formation

As for Stoke, I doubt Matty Etherington will play as he looked painfully off the pace on Saturday, but otherwise, their side should remain intact. After City outplayed them at the weekend, it will be interesting to see if they adopt different tactics on Tuesday night.

Fact (sponsored by Rafael Benitez): City have only scored two headers in the league all season, the worst in the Premier League. (which is awful considering the size of the likes of Kompany, Richards, Boateng, Lescott, Vieira, Y. Touré, Balotelli and Dzeko) 

Referee: Lee Probert – I’m normally generous when it comes to referees, but Probert is one I really don’t rate. Officiated the City versus WBA game at the Hawthorns earlier this season, where he was appalling.

Prediction: MAN CITY 21 Stoke – I feel we will keep our momentum going and will record a win, although it might be tight. Goals to be scored by Edin Dzeko, Adam Johnson and Jon Walters.


One Response to “MAN CITY v STOKE – PREVIEW: City’s Probable Team”

  1. Alec 17/05/2011 at 8:33 am #

    Hi Steven,

    It’d be nic to see us get a little revenge for Saturday but I’m not massively confident, you always seem to have the edge on us at home.

    As for our team, I can’t see Etherington playing either, which will mean Delap will go to the left and Whitehead will come into the middle. I also think there’s a good chance that Huth will have a rest too, so Abdoulaye Faye in for him. It’s also got to the stage of our season where we don’t have a huge amount to play for so watch out for a couple of younger players getting a go from the bench, Ryan Shotton and maybe, though probably not, Florent Cuvelier.

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