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Bolton preview

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With Europa League progression having been attained, it is back to League action with a visit from Bolton - a potentially tricky looking fixture - but one that it is important that three points are taken from.

City will have to improve on recent results however, having drawn 3 of their last 4 games, but still very much remain in the thick of things at the top end of the table. The victory over Salzburg was useful for Mancini in a number of ways, but also left him with a couple of selection issues with players having stated a case for inclusion in the midweek win.

In defence, Boateng, Lescott and Zabaleta all got ninety minutes under their belt to come into contention but may not be able to shift the starting line-up from the Stoke game. Midfield may be a different question however. 

On the outside looking in during recent games, Adam Johnson and James Milner both impressed in more 'natural' positions, but with Yaya Toure likely fit, it would be a departure for Mancini to move away from the 4-5-1 - and if he did, it would likely mean jettisoning Nigel de Jong in adopting a 4-4-2 formation, something I'm not convinced Mancini would do.

One person who is likely to feature though is Mario Balotelli. Balotelli turned in another eventful performance against Salzburg, adding a pair of goals and displaying the undoubted talent he possesses. Considering his career at City is still in his infancy, the promise that awaits is certainly something.

Bolton of course currently sit in sixth place in the table, and victory would see them leapfrog City in the standings. It is practically a year since Owen Coyle arrived at The Reebok, with the opinion being that he has overseen a mini-revolution in terms of style from that implemented by his predecessors, a run that ended with the sacking of Gary Megson.

Certainly Bolton have an attacking threat; both Kevin Davies and Johann Elmander are in a good patch of form, whilst Martin Petrov would surely love the opportunity to point at the name of his shirt through gloved thumbs at some stage given his comments upon leaving City.

The recent form book favours City though. Three successive wins have been posted in this fixture since Sam Allardyce left town and took his dominance over City with him. 

The stats this season point to the fact that scoring the first goal of a game often leads to victory. Equally, at home during 2010/11, in seven games City have only lost once. They may have only scored seven times, but equally, have conceded just five (with three in one game against Arsenal).

This suggests goals may not be on the menu and a narrow 1-0 may well be enough to bag the points.