Man City perspective: Ric Turner, Blue Moon MCFC.
Micah Richards and Maicon are both still absent, whilst Javi Garcia is unlikely to be available after picking up a thigh injury midweek. Yaya Toure also seemed to be struggling towards the end of the game, but is expected to pass a fitness test. Once again, I’d expect to see some rotation following Wednesday’s Champions League draw with Borussia Dortmund, with the likes of Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gareth Barry and Carlos Tevez all pushing for a place in the starting XI.
We have struggled for form this season, and look like conceding every time we take to the pitch. There was a noticeable improvement in performance on Craven Cottage on Saturday, but this was followed by an abject display against Dortmund in which we were extremely fortunate to escape with a point. The resolute defending and swashbuckling attacking of last season seem a distant memory at present. Hopefully this is just a temporary aberration, rather than a sign of deeper problems within the team.
During the Premier League era we’ve won seven out of eight home encounters with Sunderland. But the Black Cats drew 3-3 at The Etihad last season and, truth be told, were unlucky not to take all three points. They will fancy their chances of getting a positive result against a City side lacking in confidence, and players who have had only 48 hours to recover from their midweek exertions.
The draw at 5.65. City's poor form, coupled with Sunderland’s penchant for drawing games (four of their five games so far have ended in stalemate) means that the draw at 5.65 looks like a good bet.
Both teams to score at 2.05. Our defensive frailties suggest a clean sheet is unlikely.
Carlos Tevez to score at 2.05. The striker will be motivated having been left out against Dortmund.
Man City 1-1 Sunderland (10.00)
Sunderland perspective: James Hunt, A Love Supreme.
Our captain Lee Cattermole is missing through suspension (not exactly surprising news to many…) but Martin O'Neill will be boosted by good news over a number of players. Carlos Cuellar has a chance of making a return after missing out for the last couple of weeks, while fellow defenders Wes Brown and Phil Bardsley are also back in training. Adam Johnson is finally reaching full fitness ahead of this game with his former employers.
We have been solid if unspectacular so far this term, taking points off Arsenal and Liverpool and picking up two draws away from home. The apparent reliance on Steven Fletcher isn’t a worry as such – that’s why we paid big money for him – but if we’re to come away with anything then the likes of Johnson and Stephane Sessegnon will need to raise their game.
We were the only side to take four points from City last season, with a famous last minute goal from Ji Dong-Won giving us a 1-0 win at home, before an enthralling encounter at the Etihad ended in a 3-3 draw. The previous clash at the home of the Champions, which took place in April 2011, was rather less enjoyable, City winning 5-0. Martin O'Neill will be desperate to avoid a similar fate on Saturday.
Steven Fletcher to score at 4.90. The Scottish poacher has been in scintillating form since his move from Wolves, and will be hopeful of adding to his tally against an uncharacteristically wobbly Man City defence.
Under 2.5 goals at 2.25. We aren't scoring too many goals. City haven't been at their best. The price is outside evens. Need I say more?
City/draw HT/FT at 20.00. Expect City to start on the front foot, but I believe we could certainly nick a goal after the interval.
Man City 1-1 Sunderland (10.00)