Manchester City v Bolton, Premier League, February 9, 2010
All of a sudden Roberto Mancini appears to be facing a must-win game, and many are taking glee in noting that the dapper Italian has now lost more matches than his predecessor Mark Hughes.
It all started so well for Mancini with four straight-forward wins against Stoke, Wolves, Boro (FA Cup) and Blackburn, and a minor blip at Everton (losing 2-nil) was quickly forgotten after a terrific victory over neighbours United in the Carling Cup semi-final first-leg. But since City’s form has headed south. Defeat at Old Trafford was followed by a laboured victory over Portsmouth, and last weekend they lost again against relegation-threatened Hull.
Even so, the Citizens, boasting a formidable home record of eight wins and three draws of their 11 games so far this term in the league, should be favourites against Bolton on Tuesday night.
Up-form, Carlos Tevez’s (11/10 to score) hot-streak may have cooled in recent weeks, but since returning from his harrowing time at the African Cup of Nations strike-partner Emmanuel Adebayor (21/20 to score) has bagged two in two as the Togolese forward neatly slipped back into the Premier League fold.
Less good news surrounds the availability of Craig Bellamy. The Welsh attacker is set to miss the match as a result of his long-standing knee injury, while Joleon Lescott will also likely be absent from the starting eleven as he continues his rehabilitation from injury. With Vincent Kompany is still struggling with a groin problem and Micah Richards doubtful because of a calf injury too, newbee Dedryck Boyata is likely to continue at the heart of the City defence which has only kept one clean sheet in their last five games.
Visitors Bolton appear to be starring down the barrel as they arrive at Eastlands with the Trotters carrying the shameful record of zero wins in their last seven Premier League away games. (Manchester City are 9/4 to win both halves.)
Adding to their woes is a long list of absentees. Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic is missing for the visitors with a calf complaint and while Gary Cahill, Sean Davis and Joey O’Brien are suffering from long term injuries. And it gets worse for Bolton as on-loan winger Vladimir Weiss is out as the Slovakian cannot face his parent club, while Andy O’Brien (thigh) and Fabrice Muamba (ankle) are both doubtful and Gavin McCann remains sidelined.
Down to their bare bones, Owen Coyle will be reliant on Kevin Davies (16/5 to score) to lead the line, possibly alongside Johan Elmander (16/5 to score), while the likes of Chung-Yong Lee (9/2 to score), Matty Taylor and Tamir Cohen will be asked to be support from midfield.
With Bolton having kept one clean sheet in their last 23 Premier League away matches (Bolton are 7/1 to keep a clean sheet, 1/8 against), and City haveing scored in their last 21 consecutive home matches (Manchester City are 11/10 to score in both halves), we expect City to claim the necessary points against Bolton although the performance could well be lacking.
101gg predicts: Manchester City 2 – Bolton 0 (7/1)
Full match odds here.