Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Brighton preview

There are still seven days and two games left in what has been the most exciting month I can remember as a City fan.

And so a regulation League Cup match, generally a potential upset to be avoided, is infused with the optimism and anticipation that comes with City at the moment. Rather than worrying about getting embarrassed, I can't wait for us to get our campaign going in another competition.

One of my very good memories of last season was the 2-1 win at Bristol City at this stage of the competition. Mpenza and Bianchi played up front, each scoring. It was the first we saw of Gelson Fernandes, and the last we ever saw of Paul Dickov. I hope tonight will bring similar memories.

We know that Robinho is not playing, and I don't know if we will see any of the South Americans. There has been much talk of the new era's commitment to Jim Cassell's Academy players: tonight a few may be playing. The two young strikers, Danny Sturridge and Ched Evans could both start. They have been inseperable so far this year: Evans has one start, one goal and a total of 114 minutes on the pitch in the league. Sturridge, one start, one goal and a total of 113 minutes. The two starting in tandem would be a real thrill.

Hughes has spoken of our rotation - and we can expect some of the fringe players to feature. I like Gelson Fernandes, but he offers little that Vincent Kompany does not. It was great that he scored against Portsmouth - today he could even start in central midfield. Tal Ben Haim is yet to put a foot wrong and could come in anywhere across the back. Michael Johnson, absent since the Sunderland win, may return from injury. Beyond that, it's all conjecture.

Our opponents have nine points from seven League One games so far this season. I don't know anything about them. But the prospect of a home draw with Derby County in the 3rd round should encourage us to take this as seriously as we need to.

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