Preview: Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City

Following last week’s disaster, in terms of result if not performance, it’s imperative for Roberto Mancini to get a result in the Midlands. With Wolves struggling, City will be looking for a win to ensure they remain in the top four.

The big news is the absence of Carlos Tevez. That should mean a return to the starting line-up for Emmanuel Adebayor, though Mancini has spoken of starting Balotelli. No doubt this will have the Togolese sweating on his place, though Mario may play on the left flank in the old Bellamy role.

Wolves are a physical side and Mancini might be better advised to continue easing Mario into the Premier League via the bench. Milner, Johnson and Adebayor are more familiar with the physical pressure applied by opponents at Premier League away grounds. Mario isn’t exactly known for avoiding trouble.

Following last week’s surprise inclusion of Boyata at centre-back and Boateng at left-back, it will be interesting to see how the defence lines up. Kolo Toure is likely to return, which will mean further disappointment for Joleon Lescott.

If Mancini wants to spring a surprise, it’s likely to be Kolarov at left-back. The Serbian has been involved in full training sessions and ought to be on the bench at least. Bridge, Boateng, Lescott and Zabaleta are the other options. Bridge is the natural left-back and the most comfortable going forward from that position – even if he isn’t everybody’s favourite.

Boateng would be better off at right-back, where Micah could be given a run out in Poland on Thursday. There’s plenty of scope for rotation in the defensive positions at the moment!

Jerome Boateng:

“The important thing for us now is to put together an unbeaten league run that keeps us at the top. There are two away games coming followed by the derby.

“There is great competition at the back with at least two players for each role so no one is becoming complacent in any way.”

De Jong, Barry and Yaya playing together isn’t everybody’s ideal choice of personnel, but it’s likely to be Mancini’s starting line-up against competitive opponents. With Wolves yet to keep a clean sheet this season, the onus is likely to be on David Silva to unlock a less than secure defence.

Karl Henry returns from a three match ban for Wolves. Fair to say the cameras will be awaiting his first clash with our Nigel.

Mick McCarthy’s side are better than the league table suggests and they put up a good showing against Chelsea last week. City will have to play as well as they did against Arsenal and Poznan to get a result.

Without Tevez, there’s bound to be some apprehension about who will score the goals. Missed chances cost us against Arsenal and we can’t afford a repeat. With Balotelli, Adebayor, Silva and Johnson there ought to be more than enough talent to make up for the captain’s absence.

Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Boateng – K Toure – Kompany – Bridge
de Jong – Barry
Silva – Y Toure – Balotelli

Prediction: 2-0 to City.

Striker transfers – Santa Cruz, Dzeko and the rest
Verdict: Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Manchester City 1

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