Friday, 6 November 2009

Burnley preview

If you thought that the last game was a must win, this is something else. Just imagine the headlines, the top of Match of the Day billing, the laughing neutrals, the crisis club labels we'll get if we don't beat Burnley. Now remember that Burnley have 2 goals, 17 conceded and 0 points in five away games so far, and breathe out.

But after our third consecutive collapse at home against Fulham, we can't afford to be complacent about our home form. We ought to win, but then we ought to have held that two goal lead two weeks ago. This is City, remember.

After the stalefest last Sunday it would be nice to see a slight change to the team and formation tomorrow. I'm with the 97% of voters who would like to see Stephen Ireland from the start tomorrow. And I'm also with the majority that want to see him in his position from last season - in the hole behind a lone striker. Emmanuel Adebayor will replace Roque Santa Cruz up front whatever happens, and, in my dream scenario, Ireland would come in for SWP. Carlos Tévez would shift out wide in the Dirk Kuyt right channel role.

I can see the merits in returning to the early season set up; 4-4-2 with Ireland and Barry anchoring for Bellamy, Adebayor, Tévez and SWP. But it's not the team I'd choose. Mark Hughes hinted at the eventual re-introduction of Ireland in his press conference today, without committing on formation options:
"We've changed the shape of the team.

"For the majority of the season last year we played 4-3-3, but we have changed to a 4-4-2 more often than not this year.

"Nigel and Gareth became a pair when Stephen went out of the team, did well, so Stephen has found it a little difficult to get back in...

"He is too good a player to keep out of the team for too long."

I hope we see him tomorrow. Another possible change to the team is Sylvinho coming in for Wayne Bridge if he fails to recover from his injury, but that shouldn't really alter the balance of the game too much.

On a personal note this is my first home game since West Brom in April, so I'm hoping to be impressed. Prediction? A breezy 4-0.

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