Preview and game thread: City v Blackpool

MANCHESTER ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Mario Balotelli of Manchester City celebrates with Patrick Viera after scoring his first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadium on December 28 2010 in Manchester England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Happy New Year to you all.

Another big opportunity this afternoon as the side looks to take maximum points from the Festive period of games (and nicely tee up Wednesday's trip to Arsenal) as the second half of the season gets underway - although Brian Kidd has stated that the title is ‘United's to lose'.

Away from the pitch, it appears that City have turned down West Ham's offer of a loan deal for Wayne Bridge due to the Hammers not being willing to meet the full cost of his wages.

From what we know of Blackpool from this season, they don't seem set to come and ‘park the bus'; if anything the evidence of the game earlier suggests they will look to come and attack. Their position in the league table shows this has paid dividends: it is clear that it is wins, not hard fought draws keep promoted sides in the division. Defeats can be absorbed providing there is enough in the win column and Blackpool have set themselves well over the first half of the season.

What this should do however provide the spaces and opportunity that a ruthless City should take advantage of.

Team wise: I suspect Roberto Mancini will rotate once again (especially with the Arsenal game looming) but as we saw at home to Villa, such is the depth in the squad that there can be three or four changes made without the side missing a beat.

There is a clear expectation on the side that as well as they have performed over the first half of the season, there is a requirement that they can go on and put together substantial unbeaten runs and wins: they type that will see them sustain a challenge for the title as opposed to battling for a Champions League berth.

Simply put these are the type of games that the side can ill afford to be dropping any points.

As usual, follow my updates throughout the game on twitter and comment away...

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