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Preview: City v Blackburn

Stu Forster

Let's keep the wins rolling in. There are quite a few City fans who are hoping that we won't progress too far in the FA Cup, preferring to keep the squad fresh for the Premier League / Champion's League. I don't think that Manuel Pellegrini will want to lose so early in the competition, but it wouldn't surprise me to see quite a few changes to keep everyone as fresh as he can. We have 6 more matches to play in January, including both Semi Final legs of the Capital One Cup, and away at Newcastle and Tottenham.

Pellegrini has done a great job of rotating everyone and keeping them fresh. We haven't lost since mid-November, and have won 11 and drawn 1 since then. Just about every player has gotten good playing time, except for the few chronically injured.

Current Injuries - Micah Richards, Stevan Jovetic, Martin Demichelis, Sergio Aguero, and now Jack Rodwell. Pellegrini didn't comment too much about him, other than to say it was a slight hamstring issue that would keep him out of this match.

Potential Lineup - Pantilimon, Boyata, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Javi Garcia, Yaya, Navas, David Silva, Milner, Dzeko.

Yaya sat against Crystal Palace, while Fernandinho hasn't gotten a break in a while. I expect to see him rest for this match, putting Garcia in instead. It also wouldn't surprise me to see us go with only one striker from the start (my reasoning would be that Pellegrini doesn't have extensive scouting reports on Blackburn, so would like to have more flexibility at the start of the match).

Dzeko has scored more goals on the road than Negredo, so I think he'll get the nod there. Silva just got a break for the Swansea game, so I think he starts behind Dzeko, while Milner and Navas play on the wings. Kolarov has done really well the past few games, and is finally becoming a more balanced fullback. Still, Clichy is an important player, so those two will continue to rotate.

On the right, Boyata will most likely play, to give Zabaleta more time off to recover his hamstring.

For substitutes, I really want to see John Guidetti on the bench again. He was on there for the Fulham game, but never got a chance with how nervy the game was. I hope that he can get a chance or two to play. Best case scenario is that he goes on loan to a Premier League club. There are a whole lot of them that could use a striker of his quality, even if he has been out for a while.

Blackburn are having an up and down kind of season. They are still drawing between 10k and 20k fans to their home games, but the attendance is down from last year, and way way down from when they were in the Premier League. Club politics seem to have stabilized, with not too much going on with the Venky's. They're 2 points off the pace for the playoff, which is way better than last year, when they finished 4 points above relegation.

Still, they're pretty ensconced in the Championship, and so shouldn't be too difficult of a team to win, provided City players actually try.

I think that this game might be closer than is comfortable, but that Dzeko will have a good game, being fed by the crosses and cutbacks from Navas and Milner, and the through balls of Silva. This could be the game where he scores 2 or 3, and reminds people of his quality.