Manchester City begin their Carling Cup campaign Wednesday against Premiership side West Bromwich Albion. WBA are essentially a weak EPL side, and so the name of today's game is resting the Blues' first choice players. Manchester City are enjoying a good run of form, coming off resounding victories against Red Bull Salzburg and Wigan Athletic. League leaders Chelsea await at week's end, so City must achieve a balance between winning today's match and keeping their best men available for Saturday.
I will be very confused if Shay Given does not start in goal, with Joe Hart deserving a rest after seven straight starts. Instead of a predicted lineup, here's who I would like to see start against WBA tomorrow in a bit of a 4-2-2-1-1-:
We still haven't heard any news on Emmanuel Adebayor or Jerome Boateng, but you'd think the Carling Cup is a good time to debut after injury, for Boateng especially. Due to the silence, though, don't expect anything of the sort. I expect Roberto Mancini will play another safe game.
As much as Mancini seems to not trust players like Roque Santa Cruz and Shay Given, it's important that they at least get some playing time against lesser sides so the manager can see what he has. There won't be a better opportunity for this than the Carling Cup.
Manchester City should be wary of the typical "trap game", however, as West Brom, like any Premiership side, are capable of surprising their opponents. They've already beaten Birmingham City soundly and drawn with Tottenham, so the capability is there. If City can score early and dig in, then problems will be few. Letting a lesser side hang around can prove problematic, however, and would award them unnecessary confidence.
In the end, there should be no less than victory expected and achieved. Lets look for a 1-0 win over the Baggies to fully shift the focus to Chelsea.