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Manchester City v Wigan preview

Back to reality for the time being as we return to on field action after a week off due to the Portsmouth postponement last weekend.

Looking back, it probably came at a good time for us as although Stephen Ireland will miss the Wigan game, the extra week has allowed Robinho to return to fitness (and possibly Shaun Wright-Phillips) and afforded the squad time to rest after a busy Christmas period of fixtures - a mini winter break if you will.

Wigan in contrast, have played twice this week already and saw their win streak ended at United on Wednesday night but have been impressive of late after a sticky start and they now sit in 7th place in the table, nine points ahead of us. I have been impressed with the job Steve Bruce has done at Wigan and he has assembled a decent looking squad with plenty of talent, although Wilson Palacios may be at Tottenham by the time we kick off.

It is difficult to predict exactly how the events of this week will translate on to the pitch, but if there is a 'feelgood' factor in the crowd this will likely reduce the possibility of any tension if we don't get off to a fast start.

Midfield will be the key area for the game and Wigan look lively and combative in this area so (given the injuries) I imagine Hughes may opt for both Kompany and Gelson to try and match Wigan's workrate and try ensure we dictate the pace of the game.

The worlds eyes will of course be focused upon us this weekend, and whilst I doubt one result would have any bearing on Kaka's final decision an emphatic win would at least generate some positive headlines and create some momentum heading into what is still an important month for us.

Game notes:
  • Wigan have picked up more points (17), gained more victories (five) and scored more goals (13) against us than against any other club in the Premier League.
  • We have not managed to score one home Premier League goal against Wigan in any of the three previous attempts.
  • Winless in 10 Premier League games against fellow North-West clubs, losing seven of them; only picked up three points from such games since beating Manchester United 1-2 at Old Trafford on 10 February 2008.
  • We have scored only two goals in the last five North-West league derbies at the City of Manchester Stadium; those from an odd goal in five loss to Liverpool.