Carling Cup preview: West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City

City begin their Carling Cup campaign at the Hawthorns with Roberto Mancini keeping one eye on a Saturday lunchtime date with Chelsea. Rotation enables a manager to keep his squad fresh and tonight should see a host of changes.

The Carling Cup appears to be the least of City’s priorities this season which may be a pity as it requires the fewest number of games to pick up some silverware. Just six fixtures have to be negotiated to end City’s quest for a trophy. Compare this to the 17 games required to win the Europa League and you soon realise why English sides who go far in that competition rarely do well in the Premier League.

Looking at it this way, Mancini might be better advised to play a stronger team in the Carling Cup than the Europa League. However it doesn’t look like this is going to be the case and our passage through to the next round is far from assured.

Mancini on Given:

“Shay will play if he is available, but on Monday he had a problem with his toe. If he looks better [on Tuesday] then he plays.”

With Santa Cruz unavailalbe for Europa League, this looks like being his best chance of getting a run out at the moment. Those, such as Vieira, Jo, Wright-Phillips and Boyata, who have been on the bench recently, should also get a start. Whichever out of Silva, Johnson and Milner isn’t intended to start on Saturday could get a game.

With Bridge injured once again, Mancini may be forced to play one or two of his first choice defenders. The alternative is to play youngsters like Mee and Cunningham.

Fortunately West Brom are also set to rotate their players as Roberto Di Matteo faces a trip to Arsenal on Saturday. The Baggies may not have European fixtures to contend with but as a newly promoted side their priority is staying in the Premier League and shaking off their yoyo status.

Having just beaten Birmingham and drawn against Tottenham, Di Matteo is showing he has what it takes in the Premier League. It’s the first of two games against fellow Italian managers for Mancini and each in their own way could be tight affairs.

Hopefully the players coming in will show the right attitude and Mancini will infuse them with sufficient organisation to ensure a coherent side. If he does then we should possess enough attacking power to win through.

Blue Days line up (4-2-3-1):
Zabaleta – Boyata – Kompany – Cunningham
Vieira – Ibrahim
Wright-Phillips – Jo – Milner
Santa Cruz

Prediction: 3-0 to City.

Falcao visits City. Are you watching Micah?
Carling Cup verdict: West Bromwich Albion 2 Manchester City 1

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