Preview: Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City

After the joy of Wembley it’s back to the reality of Ewood Park and the need to pick up league points for Roberto Mancini’s heroes. With Rovers on a poor run this is possibly the best remaining chance to secure our first away win in the league since Boxing Day.

If we’re to secure a Champions League place, that’s a record which needs to be improved on. There can be no repeat of the Anfield debacle and it’s probably a good thing that the squad have had over a week to refocus on the importance of league matches.

With Micah Richards unavailable it’s highly likely that Mancini will field the same starting eleven who defeated United. It will be interesting to see how this unit performs second time round.

Whether Mario Balotelli can continue to lead the line in a disciplined and dangerous fashion could be key to any success this season. In the absence of Tevez the manager has put his faith in the young Italian. Placing such a weight of responsibility on Mario’s shoulders is undoubtedly a brave move.

Who knows how Mario will respond? Will there be moments of brilliance to fire us into the Champions League, or will Mancini’s faith be shredded by more red cards and fleeting contributions?

Hopefully Mario will live up to his own hype. What we need from him now is a period of good form rather than occasional flashes of talent.

Blackburn will be weakened without Nelson, Nzonzi and Santa Cruz. Elsewhere another draw for Spurs at the weekend gives City the opportunity to lengthen our lead over them. Let’s take it this time.

Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Zabaleta – Kompany – Lescott – Kolarov
de Jong – Barry
A Johnson – Y Toure – Silva

Prediction: 2-0 to City.

FA Cup verdict: Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0
Player ratings: Blackburn Rovers v Manchester City

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