Preview: City v West Ham

Alex Livesey

Welp, I think we're going to see at least 9 or 10 changes from Saturday's match. Could be all 11. Let's start with the starting XI from Saturday, compared to the most likely lineup for tomorrow.

Saturday: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov, Garcia, Yaya, Jesus Navas, Silva, Negredo, Edin Dzeko.

Monday: Pantimilion, Micah Richards, Lescott, Nastasic, Clichy, Rodwell, Fernandinho, Milner, Lopes, Stevan Jovetic, Aguero.

I could see Garcia starting instead of Rodwell, Dzeko instead of Jovetic, and Silva instead of Lopes. But I really want to see a straight swap for all 11. I think that Pellegrini held Fernandinho and Nastasic out so that they would be the main men in the middle.

Fact of the matter is, West Ham United don't have a prayer. The last time they scored 6 goals in a single match since April 2012, and that was in the Championship. In their last 6 games combined they've only scored 7 goals. This is a team in trouble. I do think that Pellegrini wants this unbeaten run to keep going. We haven't lost since the Sunderland game on November 10, having won 15 and drawn 2 of the last 17.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Jovetic in an extended appearance. Hopefully he doesn't come off injured after only a few minutes. Jovetic could solve a lot of our problems with Nasri out. Jovetic could play on the left (pushing Silva to the right), or behind Aguero, giving Navas some support on the right side. If we are going to survive unblemished in our big fixtures coming up (Tottenham, Chelsea, Barcelona), we are going to need to fill the Nasri void on that right wing. Navas is a great player, and gives a lot of speed and directness, but we'll also need some guile and slipperiness to win those games.

Jack Rodwell is also allegedly ready to play. I don't know if he'll start the game, but I expect him to get at least 30 minutes of playing time. He still could be a viable backup for Yaya, but that possibility seems to be slipping further and further away. Unless he has an outstanding second half to the season, I expect that he'll be moved on, and that we'll bring someone else in. Yaya turns 31 towards the end of the season, and he can't be expected to play the same volume of minutes for too much longer. I bet that Begiristain et al are looking for someone to come and take some of his minutes, especially for cup games.

Rony Lopes should see some more playing time, especially with David Silva coming off an injury, and some more fixtures coming up. We have 8 games between January 21 and February 22. That's a pretty busy stretch, given that we just played 10 matches in the last month. Lopes played well in the first leg, and his backheel-nutmeg that led to a goal excited all the people who have been waiting for him to get more chances. We could also see Emyr Huws play again, but probably off the bench.

All in all, this will be a good game for some of the key names to get a break, get some playing time to guys coming off injuries, and even see some youngsters.

Even though this will be our B-team (or even C+ team), it will still be a comfortable win for City, 3-1.

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