Preview: Manchester City v Blackpool

City look to complete their second league double against a Blackpool team that has won a remarkable five away games already this season. Ian Holloway has promised to attack and for these reasons the Tangerines look a more dangerous proposition than the Villa side beaten on Tuesday. Who would have thought that at the start of the season?

It will be interesting to see who starts today following the rotation for the Villa game. Tevez is the most obvious candidate to return, yet Mancini may want to save him for Arsenal on Wednesday if there are any doubts about his tight hamstring.

If the captain does play then one of Balotelli, Johnson or Silva is likely to step down. This could be harsh on Johnson who was excellent against Villa, while Balotelli scored a hat-trick. The substitution of Silva with over half an hour remaining suggested he was being saved for today’s game.

Maybe Johnson is best kept fresh for the trip to the Emirates. Balotelli would be better on the bench there, as his lack of positional discipline in tracking back would be a concern against Arsene Wenger’s side.

With all these players in decent form, whoever plays should give us too much for Blackpool. It’s hard to see the game ending 0-0.

Joleon Lescott has provided a timely reminder of his defensive solidity, and will have cause to be disappointed if Kolo Toure returns to the starting line-up. The full-back positions are equally interesting. Both Richards and Zabaleta did better against Villa than Boateng and Kolarov did against Newcastle.

The two Summer signings still don’t appear to be fully up to the pace of the Premier League, despite having superior technical skills.

For Blackpool, key midfielder Charlie Adam will return after missing the last game through suspension.

Brian Kidd:

“They gave us a severe examination at Bloomfield Road. We managed to win the game and it coincided with David Silva coming on and, for me, influencing the game with Carlos Tevez. It was a hard-earned victory that day.”

With Blackpool selling out their allocation, there ought to be a good atmosphere at Eastlands for this New Years Day fixture. City should win, but it’s likely to be an end-to-end affair, in what could be one of the more open and entertaining games we see this season.

Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):

Boateng – Kompany – Lescott – Kolarov
de Jong – Barry
Silva – Y Toure – Balotelli

Prediction: 3-0 to City.

Player ratings: Manchester City v Aston Villa
Player ratings: Manchester City v Blackpool

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