City will look to extend their incredible 15-match unbeaten run tomorrow when they host Blackburn in an FA Cup 3rd Round replay. This isn’t a game City wanted but brought it on themselves with a complacent performance at Ewood, which forced a week of warm weather training in the UAE to be cancelled.
The good news is that after a exactly a month on the sidelines, City hero Sergio Aguero returns to the squad. Chances are he will start on the bench, but as we revealed a week ago he could play some minutes ahead of the weekend game against Cardiff.
With Samir Nasri out for up to 2 months (Pellegrini said today he hopes it can be 5-6 weeks), City will again rely heavily on David Silva, but he is out of tomorrow’s game with a minor injury. Joining him on the sidelines is Yaya Toure, who has a back problem, but both are expected to be fit for the Cardiff game.
It hardly has to be said that both Jovetic and Rodwell remain unavailable for selection, however Jovetic should be back “next week” says the City boss. Notably, Pellegrini revealed Nastasic wasn’t injured at weekend but left out because a defender had to be excluded and Lescott was given the spot on the bench.
Pellegrini has the usual choice of how much to weaken his team after Blackburn gave City such a tough game at Ewood. City have not had a mid-week break for a long time so rotation is crucial. The return to fitness of Micah Richards is a boost and Portuguese starlet Marcos Lopes could find himself on the pitch again at some point tomorrow (and next week at West Ham).
If City win tomorrow, their 4th round fixture will be a rematch from last year’s 3rd round clash against Watford after the Hornets beat Bristol City tonight.
Possible City starting 11 vs. Blackburn: Pantilimon, Richards, Nastasic, Lescott, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho, Milner, Navas, Lopes, Dzeko
Rovers will bring 4,000 fans tomorrow, impressive for a mid-week cup replay on short notice. City’s ticket sales have also been better than expected, with parts of the third level opened after originally being closed for the game.
The deal has been on ice for a few days, but the permanent signing of former City midfielder Stephen Ireland freed up a loan spot for Guidetti.
This is the opportunity Guidetti has been waiting for, to try and prove himself at Premier League level. He did it at every age group for City’s youth team and did it in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord, now can he do it in the Premier League?
Stoke still have to play Chelsea, United and Arsenal this season… so do us a favour John and put a few past them!
After his horror tackle on Samir Nasri at weekend, Newcastle defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa says he has been trying to reach his fellow Frenchman by phone, but Nasri hasn’t answered.
Yanga-Mbiwa wants to apologise, but is claiming he didn’t mean to injure Samir, which isn’t a very convincing argument as he didn’t even target the ball as he repeatedly tried to bring Nasri down.
Yanga-Mbiwa says he will try again to contact Nasri and apologise for a foul that could have ruined the playmaker’s World Cup dream, but luckily will keep him out for less time than feared.
City continue to be strongly linked with Porto and France central defender Eliaquim Mangala, with France’s L’Equipe going as far as to claim City already have a 5-year contract written up for him.
Even if that is true, it doesn’t make this a done deal. As always, Porto want top dollar for one of their star players and with so much interest around Europe in Mangala, are holding out for around £41m.
22-year-old Mangala is a dominant and physical defender who is tailor made for the Premier League, but isn’t the finished product and such an investment would be in the hope that Mangala reaches his full potential.
If City were able to sign Mangala or any other central defender this month, it’d free Joleon Lescott to move elsewhere, with West Ham at the front of the queue.
With Domenico Criscito poised to leave Zenit in the near future, Kolarov is their main target and they are reportedly willing to hand him a 4-year contract on similar to what he earns at City.
Italian clubs also like Kolarov, but the unwillingness of Serie A sides to spend heavily on transfer fees or wages could give Zenit the advantage, if Kolarov is actually available.
Kolarov has been a much improved player under Pellegrini with numerous assists from the left. The Daily Mail linked City with a £30m bid for 18-year-old Southampton left-back Luke Shaw a couple of days ago, but would selling Kolarov be wise?
Kolarov appears to be entering his prime as a player and is now Pellegrini’s preferred choice ahead of Clichy, but his £100,000-a-week wages are high for a left-back and his contract only has around 18 months remaining.
This gives City chiefs Soriano and Begiristain the dilemma of whether to keep the Serb or cash in on him and invest in a player like Shaw.
Abdisalam Ibrahim’s mooted transfer away from City appears to be close, with Sky Sports claiming it is now a race between Premier League side Swansea City and Greek champions Olympiacos for his services.
Dimitri Seluk, agent of Yaya Toure, was quoted in the Greek press as saying the 22-year-old midfielder could be heading to Olympiacos, where he would reunite with a fellow member of City’s 2007/08 FA Youth Cup winning squad, Vladimir Weiss.
Olympiacos face United in the next round of the Champions League, although Greek reports claim that if Olympiacos do sign Ibrahim they could loan him out for more experience.
Ibrahim has always said he’d prefer to stay in the Premier League, so if Swansea’s interest leads to an offer, that move could appeal to him more than playing in Greece.
Xavi would be 35 when NYCFC debut and such a signing would be a huge statement of intent from the ambitious City-owned MLS club.
The New York Red Bulls also want to sign Xavi, but his representatives have, for now at least, cooled talk of any move. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but for now he has priorities such as facing City in the Champions League next month!
City chiefs want NYCFC to play a similar brand of technical and exciting football as City and building the team around Xavi Hernández would be a big step towards achieving that.