Preview: Manchester City v Portsmouth
For anyone not yet over the defeat at Old Trafford, take a look at Portsmouth to see how much worse things could be. If City suffer a hangover from Wednesday, it could be a low key game. If City look to take out their frustration on the south coast club, then there has rarely been a Premier League team who look more vulnerable to a hammering.
For Pompey, their best defender and in-form goalkeeper are being sold behind the manager’s back. As a result Avram Grant has been on the verge of quitting and didn’t turn up for training on Friday. They still have players at the African Cup of Nations, while those remaining are likely to be having their motivation tested after failing to be paid yet again. And they’re bottom of the league.
Meanwhile at City, Wayne Bridge is reportedly ready to return, but that’s not the reason his name is in the headlines at the moment. It’s fair to say that City’s failure to sign John ‘latest football love-rat’ Terry is saving Mancini from a major team harmony problem.
It would be good to see Bridge back on the pitch as he has yet to feature under Mancini, even if Pompey fans are unlikely to be sympathetic to the ex-Southampton man. Elsewhere in defence, Kolo Toure should return, with Boyata getting a rest after his incredible introduction to the first team.
With Vieira not yet fit and no other midfielder signed, it will be interesting to see if Mancini rests either Barry or de Jong. An Ireland – de Jong partnership will provide a more forward thinking platform in a game where we should enjoy territorial advantage.
If Mancini doesn’t wish to risk Bellamy’s knees for a second game in a week, then Petrov could come in. He was excellent at Scunthorpe and his direct attacking play can cut through any Pompey resistance.
Both Wright-Phillips and Adebayor need to get their form back after their respective absences, and this could be just the match to do it. Mancini is known to like a big man up front, and this is the first opportunity for him to try a Tevez – Adebayor partnership from the start.
A convincing win is required to lift the gloom after Wednesday’s defeat, and more importantly, keep us on track for a Champions League place. That’s always been the top requirement for Mancini and he’s unlikely to let the team pass up this opportunity for three points.
Blue Days line-up: Given, Richards, Bridge, Kompany, Toure, de Jong, Ireland, Petrov, Wright-Phillips, Tevez, Adebayor.
Prediction: 4-0 to City.