The mid-week game against Schalke 04 produced another win, another clean sheet, and the perfect preparation for a visit from high-flying Manchester City this Saturday afternoon. So far this season Sven Goran Eriksson has waved his magic wand (not in that way, and I’m as surprised as you are) and elevated City to third place, effectively taking our spot in the so-called ‘big four’. It is the first time Sven has brought a side to The Bridge since THAT well-publicised meeting with Roman Abramovich and he will be looking to prove a point while Avram could be feeling just a little bit nervous if he fluffs his lines. City’s away from has been patchy though, with one win, one draw and two defeats, and if we can take advantage of their traveling blues, we can edge nearer to the top of the Premier League once again.
Our match-day squad is starting to produce the same names in recent weeks, with our strongest 16 establishing themselves match by match. With Ashley Cole, John Terry and Michael Ballack still injured expect little change from the side which started the Champions League outing on Wednesday. We play manager-less Leicester City on Wednesday in the League Cup and that is where changes should be made and squad players will be given a chance. One player we will more than likely see on Saturday however is Shaun Wright-Phillips, who could line-up against his former club.
Man City meanwhile have striker worries, with Rolando Bianchi, Darius Vassell, youngster Daniel Sturridge, and summer signing Valeri Bojinov-who damaged his cruciate ligaments on the second weekend of the season ruling him out until next year-all on the sidelines. Unlike last season though, City now have goal-scorers all over the pitch. Lively midfielders Elano and Martin Petrov have scored seven goals between them in the last five goals, and both will need constant attention on Saturday.
Since losing narrowly to Blackburn back at the beginning of September, City have gone six games unbeaten, with five wins and one draw-an entertaining 3-3 with Fulham the last time they visited the capital. Sven’s men are looking to prove themselves against the big boys having beaten Manchester United but then lost to Arsenal at the beginning of the campaign, and going to Chelsea and getting any kind of result would be a huge coup. While we are still trying to find our way back into the title challenge, City are aiming to show they are no flash in the pan and looking for consistency. It could make the game a thrilling prospect.
We met Man City at home on the opening day of last season, and a free-flowing Blues display saw us come away with a convincing 3-0 win, with goals coming from John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba. City also saw Italian flop Bernado Corradi sent-off and will be hoping for a better day out this time. The game is one of those rare Saturday afternoon 3 o’clock kick-offs and after a disappointing atmosphere on Wednesday evening hopefully we will see an improvement this time around. Whether the performance is efficient or effervescent, sing anyway! Let’s show Sven up and get back where we belong.
Prediction: It should be an entertaining game with City’s flair taking on our force. If we can stifle their creativity as well as we have done to other clubs in the past few games then another clean sheet should arrive, and with Drogba kissing the badge once more we should be able to get chances ourselves. A 1-0 win is a huge possibility but even if we concede we are capable of scoring two. I’m going for a win by a one-goal margin.