Saturday, 27 September 2008

Wigan preview

In the last six days we've been treated to one of the best City performances in my lifetime, and one of the most embarrassing results. Tomorrow's trip to Wigan Athletic will prove a test of the team's mettle: can they recreate the quality shown last Sunday, or are they afflicted by the illness we often see from City teams - an inability to pull out of a dip in form?

Wigan is not a game particularly suited to City's style. The central test for Hughes this year, I think, is to create a team capable of winning ugly at teams below us in the league. Our record last year was shameful in this regard: losing at Reading and Birmingham, drawing at Derby, Bolton, Fulham and Wigan. Tomorrow will be a crucial test of whether this is something that we have overcome.

Another problem is that despite their status, Wigan are quite a useful side. Many have complaints about them as a club, but as a team they are effective and well organised. Heskey and Zaki is as good a strike partnership as you will find outside of the European qualified teams. Palacios, Valencia, Scharner and Kirkland are all good players.

I imagine the team will be roughly the same as that which played Portsmouth. The one possible change could see Elano left out. A luxury in a three man midfield even last Sunday, this game will be far from suited to his talents. A tougher option may be required. 90 Premier League minutes seems could be beyond Hamann, leaving Gelson Fernandes and the fit again Michael Johnson competing. But neither made a particularly compelling case for selection on Wednesday. Maybe Elano will start after all.

We were gifted a goal by Titus Bramble last year. Even if we don't get that lucky tomorow, I think we will still create chances: as long as Robinho and Wright-Phillips don't get injured they should be successful. The problems will come at the other end. We haven't looked great defensively this season. With Heskey and Zaki on form, I fear they'll have as much fun at our end as Robinho will at the other. So I'm going for a close, high scoring game: I'd love to say 2-1 City but I think 2-2 is most likely.

1 comment:

stwrtjcksn said...

Roll on tomorrow! As has been shown today, a result in the Carling Cup means less than one in the Premier League... See Arsenal... Wigan will be a big test for us and especially of our resilience.
Just hope Vincent and Ko. have the stamina!

Onwards & Upwards!