Following victories against Blackburn and Barcelona, the Blues will be kicking off their home campaign full of confidence against newly promoted Wolves. With the club encouraging supporters to bring their flags and inflatables, it promises to be a fantastic atmosphere in a sold-out fixture.
Wolves won’t stand a chance, or will they? Regular followers of the Blues will recognise this as having the potential for a classic “Typical City” scenario. Of course, Garry Cook and co. are doing their utmost to banish such phrases from our new look club, but I’m taking nothing for granted just yet.
After picking up their first points with a victory over Wigan, Mick McCarthy’s side will be full of confidence, but short on strikers with Andy Keogh the only one fully fit. New signing Kevin Doyle is likely to be on the bench. This could mean a repeat of the five man midfield deployed against Wigan, which could pose problems for City if Hughes repeats last Saturday’s formation.
Against Blackburn, Hughes surprisingly went with just Barry and Ireland in the centre of midfield, reasoning that Rovers tend to bypass the middle with long balls. McCarthy’s sides tend to try and play good football, so it will be interesting to see which formation Hughes goes with.
It’s also far from clear who will be fit to play. Robinho (ankle), Adebayor (groin), Bridge and Richards all had minor injuries which prevented them being risked against Barcelona. Tevez will be better for his run out at the Nou Camp, but still can’t be considered a certain starter. The complete absence of De Jong on Wednesday night implies the Dutchman may not be fully fit either.
If he is fit, there may be the temptation to play him alongside Barry to combat a five man midfield of Wolves. If this is the case my predicted line up would be:
Given, Richards, Toure, Dunne, Bridge, De Jong, Barry, Ireland, Robinho, Tevez, Adebayor.
With a lone striker, Tevez rather than Wright-Phillips may play on the right to give the mouthwatering triumverate of Robinho, Adebayor and Tevez.
If Hughes goes 4-4-2, then it’s likely to be the same line-up as last week:
Given, Richards, Toure, Dunne, Bridge, Barry, Ireland, Robinho, Wright-Phillips, Adebayor, Bellamy.
If there’s any doubts about the fitness of Robinho, expect to see Petrov. The Bulgarian looks like he’s chomping at the bit for some first team action.
“Our system worked very well on Tuesday but this is another game.
“City will play differently, they played 4-4-2 last weekend, so we’ll have another look at the video today and see what we think.”
“Our home form was excellent last year so we want to replicate that and if possible increase the number of wins we had,”
“If we do that, we have made a good start in terms of away form and we could have a really good season.
“Wolves have had a good preparation. They are a big club with big expectations. Early in the season, promoted sides tend to be really strong.”
Prediction: 3-0 to City.
Mark Hughes press conference