The biggest game Man City have had in 40 odd years. A win and City will be League Champions. They play at home against a team fighting to avoid being in the bottom three. It’s all set up for the men formerly of Maine Road to claim the title. Surely they can’t mess it up from here?
Alas, Sport is never so straight forward. And standing in the opposition dugout for QPR is Mark Hughes. The same Mark Hughes who is a Manchester United legend and was unceremoniously ejected out of the Man City managerial hotseat to be replaced by the current incumbent Roberto Mancini.
To say that victory for QPR to deny City the title would make Sparky Hughes happy would be the understatement of the century. The Welshman would love nothing more than to show City what they have been missing out on. Plus,QPR badly need the points to ensure survival themselves. This is a monumental game from whatever side you look at it.
However, the game won’t be played in the dugout’s and this is why City’s gifted squad should have the edge over anything QPR can throw at them.
The Blue half of Manchester have no injury concerns at present and Mancini has suggested that he will retain the same system that finished last weeks win at Newcastle when Dutchman Nigel De Jong came on to allow Yaya Toure to advance further forward with ultimately, devastating effect.
Super Mario Balotelli is in contention to play once again but surely Mancini won’t recall the erratically brilliant Italian for such a high stakes game. Balotelli’s temperament has certainly been called into question when the pressure is on and Mancini surely won’t want to risk his side going down to ten men in this game by playing the Italian.
The Man City Squad is as follows:Joe Hart, Richards, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Savic, K Toure, Clichy, Kolarov, Milner, Johnson, Nasri, De Jong, Pizarro, Barry, Y Toure, Silva, Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli, Dzeko, Pantilimon.
The situation is that Man City are level on points with United at the top but City have a vastly superior gal difference. Any slip up by City and a win by Unted at Sunderland will mean a 20th league title for the Red Devils.
City meanwhile are looking to secure just their 3rd top flight crown and their first since the halcyon days of 1968. The City faithful will be hoping that they can immortalise the likes of Kompany, Hart and Toure in the same way they’ve eulogised over Summerbee, Bell and Lee in the 44 years since that last title victory.
The words of Alex Ferguson will no doubt be ringing in the minds of Roberto Mancini however ahead of this pivotal game. The doughty Glaswegian has been invoking his own unique brand of mind games right up to the final game of the season: “It is untold at this moment in time what effect it could have on them.
“It won’t be easy for them, because the pressure is on them and the fans will be putting the referee under tremendous pressure.
“On the face of it, you expect City to win — and so do I. But as long as human beings are human beings, you never know.”
What of the underdogs from London? QPR are backed by their own wealthy benefactors but have not been as successful in their quest as of yet and relegation would be a hammer blow for them.
On the injury front, Samba Diakite is definitely ruled out and he could be joined on the sidelines by Shaun Derry (dead leg) and Akos Buzsaky (hamstring).
Thus, Hughes will have some tough decisions to make on the midfield selection.
The QPR Squad is: Paddy Kenny, Cerny, Murphy, Young, Gabbidon, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Taiwo, Traore, Hill, Derry, Barton, Buzsaky, Smith, Mackie, Wright-Phillips, Taarabt, Hulse, Cisse, Bothroyd, Zamora, Helguson, Campbell.
Joey Barton is another City old boy who would love to upset the party atmosphere at the Etihad Stadium but one feels that the time has come for the men of ’68 to be emulated at long last.
The title is for City to lose but it’s unfathomable to think that a squad containing Tevez, Aguero, Silva et al will be over turned at home by a mediocre QPR side.
City were mentally strong at the former St James Park last week and Toure showed enormous fortitude to turn the match their way. Another big name player will be needed to step up to the plate tomorrow and a win has to be forecasted for City here.
Verdict: Manchester City to win and claim the title. It’s to be a “Blue Moon” over Manchester on Sunday.