After a tough loss on Monday, Manuel Pellegrini's squad will be looking to bounce back with a good win against Norwich City. Norwhich have had a tough season, and find themselves in the middle of a relegation fight. With only 1 win out of their last 9 Premier League fixtures (and that was against fellow strugglers Hull City), Norwich find themselves 2 points above the drop.
The last time these two teams played, Manchester City won 7-0. The last match at Carrow Road was a much closer 4-3 loss (although half of that game was played a man down after Samir Nasri's red card).
Fact of the matter is, this is probably the best time to be playing Man City. This is a perfect storm of potential problems:
1. Game on the road
2. A ton of players injured
3. Potential to be distracted by other things (title race, big Champion's League fixture)
On the other hand, we do kind of own Norwich lately. Hopefully that trend continues.
Injury updates: Sergio Aguero, Fernandinho, Samir Nasri are definitely out, along with Javi Garcia. James Milner and Edin Dzeko are both coming back off knocks, but are going to be in the squad.
Projected lineup: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Kolarov, Rodwell, Yaya, Navas, Silva, Jovetic, Negredo.
This is the kind of game that the Negredo/Jovetic combo can dominate. When Jovetic came on against Chelsea, he helped to inject a spark into the game, and created some good movement. Hopefully that will continue with a start against Norwich, and he and Negredo can form a good partnership.
Strike Partnership - The problem with losing Aguero is finding a strike partnership to play against Barcelona. If I were Pellegrini, I would try out Jovetic alongside Negredo, to see if the two of them can get a good understanding over the next couple of matches before the big one.
The Negredo/Dzeko combination has been good, but mostly against inferior teams. As seen in the match against Chelsea, they struggle to retain the ball against consistent pressure in the midfield. That is what Barcelona are made to do, with the combo of Xavi and Iniesta working hard, and Sergio Busquets continuing to dominate the world. To beat Barcelona, we are going to need two strikers that are totally in sync, and playing their best. I hope that we see Jovetic and Negredo get to that level.
Replacing Fernandinho in midfield is no easy task, since he does all the little things that are not very glamorous. Playing alongside Yaya requires a player to be very willing to track back and clean up, but also be available to go forward. Yaya is one of the best in the world, but he relies on a partner to cover for him. Demichelis is not able to do the things that he needs done. Hopefully Jack Rodwell can do that until Fernandinho comes back. I personally don't think that he can, but I am more than willing to be proven wrong.
Prediction: This game is going to be up and down, with plenty of goals. Norwich are going to go for broke, rather than playing for a draw. I can see this getting 7 or 8 combined goals, but I think that Pellegrini will get his guys ready for this one.
Manchester City 4 - Norwich City 1.