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Wigan vs Manchester City: Preview

Monday 8pm, DW Stadium

Wigan 8.00 Draw 4.20 Manchester City 1.44

All odds courtesy of Paddy Power – sign-up for your £20 welcome bonus.

Awkward little fixture for City this – despite Wigan’s deficiencies, it’s not the most appetising venue for a must-win game.

Doubts exist over David Silva(f/g) and Mario Balotelli(f/g) for Roberto Mancini, and the Toure brothers are away with the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Wigan welcome back Albert Crusat(f/g), but Mohamed Diame is also on international duty with Senegal.

Wigan are a team that needs momentum, a side that can grind through the gears and cause you problems if you let them. Roberto Martinez has seen his side hit the bottom of the league since Blackburn’s resurgence, and will ensure that his players appreciate the urgency for points.

City have not looked themselves for a while now. The stuttering performance against Liverpool, the refereeing travesty that was the derby game, and the stalemate at the Hawthorns have added up to the first semblance of doubt over their title credentials. Sunday’s encounter with Tottenham may promise bigger headlines, but victory tonight is just as important.

There’s not a lot of subtlety in the way the home side defends, and that promises much for a visiting attack stuffed with guile and creativity. If David Silva’s fit, expect him to enjoy himself – Wigan really aren’t equipped to handle that kind of player. Up front as well, I’m not sure that Franco Di Santo and Hugo Rodallega are capable of exposing the weakness felt by Vincent Kompany’s absence. All signs point to an away win, indifferent form or not.

If this is to be competitive, Wigan have to be forceful in midfield. City undeniably lose something when Yaya Toure isn’t playing, and it’s up to James McCarthy and probably Hendry Thomas to clog-up what will be an unfamiliar Barry/De Jong/Silva axis. Victor Moses has begun to show signs of why he was so coveted when at Crystal Palace, and his form this season has a lot to do with Wigan having as many points as they do – can he make an impact here though? Doubtful.

8/1 on Wigan? Only if you’ve got money to burn – City to win 3-0.

FA Cup Final Betting: Manchester City Vs Stoke City

Neither side are really giving anything away selection wise, as the battle to prove fitness will go right down to the wire for Carlos Tevez and Robert Huth, Matty Etherington is also looking to prove to Tony Pulis that he’s able to start.

There’s a lot of talk about Stoke, a lot of negativity about they way they play, their route one tactics, and their-over-reliance on stuffing opposition penalty boxes and hoping for the best. Anybody that has actually watched them over the course of 90 minutes will know that this isn’t really fair – they are capable of getting the ball down and wide, and playing the game neatly on the floor. Still, with the abundance of quality that exists in the Manchester City first eleven, it could be a step too far for.

Yaya Toure, pivotal in the victory over Manchester United in the semi-final, will again be crucial on both sides of the ball – his physical presence will make him essential against the aerial threat as well as the tough tackling contest in the middle of the pitch.

What would worry me as a City fan, is if the team try and play as they did against Spurs on Tuesday night. Tottenham are completely impotent going forward at the moment, but the law of averages suggest that Stoke would eventually punish them for sitting off and trying to absorb pressure. Perversely, it may have been an easier task for Roberto Mancini had City been paired up with a stronger team – a Chelsea, United, or Arsenal – because he could then have stuck to his traditional defensive game plan. Today will force him to reveal whether he truly has a ‘plan b’, and how adept his players are at actually following it.

Extra time seems a fairly good bet, as the size of the occasion might damage this as an attacking spectacle – and we can see Stoke maybe nicking it. Take under 2.5 goals in 90 minutes as a starting point at 4/6, but 2/1 on Stoke to win the trophy by any means is really good value – if a little speculative.

Here are a selection of markets from Bet365

Premier League Betting: Manchester City Vs Bolton

Not as straightforward as you might think.

Ordinarily we advise against touching any game that involves City, because they have the capability to excite and disappoint in identical measures. So far this season, they’ve played the role of coupon-buster more than once – and for whatever reason they appear to wilt under the expectation when playing at home.

Bolton under Owen Coyle are a different animal to the limp incarnation that existed under Gary Megson. All the old Allardyce-era attributes still remain – dangerous from set-pieces, physical etc – but Coyle has added an element of craft to the side. Mark Davies’ goal against Blackpool last week was a case in point, intricacy and delicacy are now visible throughout their midfield.

City report a clean bill of health for the fixture, with Yaya Toure returning to the side and Mario Balotelli hoping to force his way into a regular starting slot.

Expect to see City take the lead early, with Bolton edging back into it over the course of the rest of the game. The draw is available at 3/1, with Bolton priced at 4/1 in the Draw No Bet market. Tempting.

It can’t possibly be our fault.

‘Dead Manc Walking’ screams The Sun this afternoon, as they joyfully print some quotes from Yaya Toure’s agent, Dimitri Seluk, regarding player attitudes at Manchester City.

Seluk is on record as saying:

‘Yaya thinks there are some players, perhaps mostly those who have been there for a long time, who think that fourth place is already a big position that it is good enough to ‘not lose’ rather than to always win.’

Ofcourse this is in no way a reflection of Seluk’s client being unhappy at being played out of position, or indeed potentially wanting a move back to Barcelona – defnitely not. With regards the ‘players who have been there for a long time’, we’re not quite sure who he means – we were under the impression that over 95% of City’s current playing staff was stolen from other clubs in the recent past for large amounts of money – James Milner probably isn’t due a testimonial for a while.

Given that Mr Seluk’s quotes run to only half a paragraph, The Sun naturally fill-up the rest of the article with lies originating from the ever credible and available ‘City source’:

“There is hardly a player in the dressing room who has any time for Mancini. The place is a complete mess. There are times when he tries to be a hard man but no one takes any notice. Team spirit is falling apart because there is no respect for the manager and some players are even guessing when he could go. They don’t know who they want in, they just want Mancini out.”

and the equally liberal-tongued ‘source close to’:

The players don’t like his confrontational style. They’re also baffled by him tactically – for example, they couldn’t understand why he brought on defender Pablo Zabaletta for Emmanuel Adebayor instead of striker Jo at Wolves on Saturday.”

Could you not have at least made it sound like a real person? The Pulitzer is probably already in the post.

Toure completes City move.

Yaya Toure is now a Manchester City player, as the Eastlands outfit continue their bid to buy the Premier League. Naturally a holding midfielder, Toure is also adept at centre-half. The arrival of the ex-Barcelona man must also bring into question the futures of Nigel De Jong, Patrick Vieira, and Gareth Barry, as it’s unlikely that any of these three are going to settle for an extended period of time on the sidelines.

Having dismissed a move to City early in the year, on the grounds that they were not ‘important’ enough, Toure and his agent have clearly joined the list of players willing to sacrifice ambition for a vast salary.