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How about some goals?

12 November 2010

As far as City have come in the past two years, there’s still a small-time mentality around the club that rears its head from time to time. Wednesday’s derby was one such time, with City’s tactics much more appropriate for this fixture three seasons ago than today. That inferiority complex is going to need to go if the club is really going to push on and achieve big things, and that starts with tomorrow’s match against Birmingham City.

Roberto Mancini has made defensive solidarity a key initiative this season, and even his biggest critics can admit he has achieved that, with only Chelsea conceding fewer goals than City in the Premier League. Now it’s time to build on that and get the attack flowing, and they’re facing a good opponent for that purpose.

So far this season, Birmingham City’s defense has been nothing like the stingy one that kept them far way from the relegation scrap in the previous campaign. The big problems have arisen away from home, where Alex McLeish’s men have allowed a whopping 12 goals in six matches, with zero wins so far.

With points dropped now in three of their last five home matches, City need to make Eastlands much more of a fortress. It’s also time to start pumping up that goal difference, which currently sits at just +5 — level with Newcastle and far, far behind the other Big Four clubs. Speaking of City’s title rivals, this could be a chance to gain some ground on United and Arsenal, both of whom face challenging away fixtures this weekend.

For the first time all season, Mancini should have both first-choice fullbacks available to start, as Aleksandar Kolarov finally appears to be fit and available, having come off the bench in each of the past three matches. There’s a chance Mancini could opt to stick with Pablo Zabaleta, who has been in fine form of late, but based on what we saw against United, he’ll want to have his preferred fullbacks getting forward to help in attack.

The big question is up top, where Carlos Tévez played 90-plus minutes mid-week, despite a thigh injury. Mancini might have given the captain the day off in favor of Emmanuel Adebayor, but the Togolese hit man re-injured his calf this week in training as is doubtful. With Mario Balotelli unavailable due to suspension, we’ll probably see either Jô or Roque Santa Cruz — or possibly both if Adebayor isn’t available at all — on the team sheet.

There’s a lot of talk about Adam Johnson’s playing time in the papers today, so I’m thinking the England winger is due for a start tomorrow. David Silva has played over 150 minutes of football in the past six days, and he’s a prime candidate for a day off. Here’s what my team sheet would look like tomorrow:

Assuming no hiccups, this one should be three points in the bag. I’m looking to see another clean sheet and multiple goals for the home side, so I’m hopeful of a 2-0 or 3-0 scoreline in City’s favor. We’ll be watching at The Banshee, which has become my footy viewing home.

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