Preview: Crystal Palace v City

City embark on their Carling Cup campaign against Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace. The Yorkshireman’s sides are usually competitive and City will need to put up a stronger showing than last season when we went out to Brighton and Nottingham Forest at the first hurdle of the domestic cups.

The good news is that our squad is far stronger than last season and ought to be more focused due to the absence of European fixtures. We could really do with good cup runs, if only to give some of our squad a regular run out. It’s difficult to predict a team, but I’m hoping Hughes sends out a strong side with the likes of Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Petrov and Nedum Onuoha getting a game rather than a host of youngsters.

City failed to produce a thumping victory in any of the pre-season fixtures, so a strong line-up and convincing victory would give a big boost to the confidence of the squad (and supporters). The last thing we need is to go out in a “typical City” performance which would unleash a torrent of pent up criticism in the media.

It will be interesting to see if there’s a role for Nigel De Jong in a pair of defensive midfielders, or whether Hughes continues with the more open 4-4-2 that has so far produced two Premier League victories. The vulnerability of this system was apparent in the second half against Wolves, and not something I’d like to chance in a one off cup game.

New signing Sylvinho is still waiting for international clearance but there is a chance Joleon Lescott could make his debut. While it would be a surprise to see Adebayor and Robinho this early in the competition, both the former Arsenal striker and Kolo Toure are in the squad.

Mark Hughes:

“There is expectation but we are enjoying that and the Carling Cup is the next match on the agenda.

“We are looking to do well in the competition especially as we have not got Europe this year so we have one fewer trophy at which to aim.

“It is a difficult tie. We know that any side of Mr Warnock’s will have a certain way of playing and a certain attitude about them which is a reflection of the manager. It is not going to be easy, far from it. We are not going to take the tie lightly.

“We will go there with a strong side. There are two views on these things. You can possibly give game time to guys that need it because we are so early in the season and maybe some of them need  a little bit more actual playing time.

“On the other hand you can say let’s be really strong and hopefully start really well and get the game put to bed and then you make changes and give people opportunities.

“So there are two schools of thought and I know which one I am erring towards.

“Which one? Everyone will find out tonight. We are not in bad shape injury wise. And they have all already been told how important we regard this tie and this competition.”

According to the official site, there’s a cash turnstile for those wishing to pay on the night.

Football ground guide to Selhurst Park

Possible line-up: Given, Zabaleta, Toure, Onuoha, McGivern, De Jong, Barry, Ireland, Petrov, Tevez, Bellamy

Prediction: 4-0 to City.

Summer spending spree won’t be repeated – Hughes
Verdict: Crystal Palace 0 City 2

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