Seeking to extend their unbeaten run of eleven games against the Blues, Blackburn Rovers travel to the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday as they look to edge ever closer to Premier League survival. Currently sitting in fifteenth position, Rovers are almost guaranteed safety, lying six points off the relegation zone, but manager Sam Allardyce will want his side to be mathematically safe before resting on his laurels. The visitors have a fantastic record against City, having not lost in nine matches at Eastlands, but the Blues have recently turned their home ground into a fortress, having won ten out of the past eleven matches at CoMS. Under their second manager of the season, the former Bolton boss Sam Allardyce, Blackburn have climbed gradually up the table, displaying the fighting qualities instilled by Mark Hughes and then ignored under Paul Ince.
On one of their best run of games this season, City have won two matches in succession and are pushing for a third consecutive victory for only the first time this campaign. The last two encounters between the sides have culminated in 2 – 2 draws, with a controversial Roque Santa Cruz goal proving the highlight in the previous fixture at Eastlands. In a rather poetic fact, City have conceded seventeen goals in seventeen home games, whilst Blackburn have scored seventeen goals in seventeen games on their travels this season.
A rather interesting image of Sam Allardyce (apparently taken during a filming session of anorexic men)
Blues boss Mark Hughes, who managed Blackburn between 2004 – 2008, faces a couple of tricky selection dilemmas as he prepares to name his side for this fixture. Michael Johnson, once tipped as a future England captain, is still struggling with a long-term injury, whilst this match is thought to have come one game early for Argentinean defender Pablo Zabaleta. Shaun Wright-Phillips is also doubtful for this encounter, but wannabee England defender Micah Richards should be fit despite limping off against Everton. Former Blackburn striker Craig Bellamy, who made 37 appearances for Rovers, is definitely ruled out, so the City faithful can expect to see the not so nimble frame of Felipe Caicedo roaming around up-front.
For the visitors, strikers Jason Roberts and Roque Santa Cruz, the latter of whom is rumoured to be a transfer target for City, are out with injuries, whilst it has been confirmed today that David Dunn is ruled out for the rest of the season. Seeth African forward Benni McCarthy, who is expected to lead the line on his own, has scored six Premier League goals against the Blues, including two in his last two fixtures.
My Team (4-2-3-1)
Richards Dunne Onuoha Bridge
de Jong Kompany
Elano Ireland Robinho
Subs: Hart, Logan, Garrido, Weiss, Petrov, Caicedo, Evans
Roque Santa Claus, sorry Cruz, is injured for Blackburn after being beaten up by his reindeer
Micah Richards ‘v’ Morten Gamst Pedersen
With Richards expected to recover in time from his injury, this battle will feature two players who possess great ability but have vastly under-performed during this campaign. Norwegian winger Pedersen, whom I once had the pleasure of meeting in a restaurant, has been on the periphery of the Blackburn side this year, but has recently cemented his place of the left-wing. Richards has been shuffled along the City defence, from centre-back to the right side, in order to find his best form, but so far, the odd game aside, he has failed to perform to anywhere near his capabilities.
Elano ‘v’ Stephen Warnock
The former Liverpool left-back was linked with City in January before Mark Hughes opted for the more experienced Wayne Bridge, and Warnock will be a tough proposition for the Blues. Very good going forward, he has often played either in central midfield or on the left-wing, but has now settled into his favoured role. He will be up against Elano, recently voted on here as City’s player of the month for April, who has shown in recent matches the type of form we have come to expect from him.
Felipe ‘The Bruiser’ Caicedo ‘v’ Christopher Samba
Whilst he is not universally popular with the City faithful, Caicedo does a ‘job’ for the team, trying to put himself about and using his considerable physical presence. His power in the air is one factor in his continued selection, with Hughes citing the lack of height generally in City’s side as one possible weakness. Samba, whose real name is Veijeany, has recently been playing up-front during an injury crisis for Blackburn, but is widely recognised as a no-nonsense, uncompromising centre-half, who was bought for a bargain £400,000 from German side Hertha Berlin.
Which type of Samba would you prefer to have in your team?
Verdict: Man City 3 – 1 Blackburn
Hopefully, this will be an entertaining affair, with plenty of goal-mouth action and no shortage of chances. Goals to be scored by Robinho, Stephen Ireland, Valeri Bojinov and Benni McCarthy.
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