Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Manchester City

Bolton will be visiting Eastlands this weekend, and it will be an interesting clash of styles between the Wanderers and the Citizens.  Bolton have shown themselves to be an attacking, free-flowing offensive club this season.  Man City, on the other hand, have been a very defensive-minded group, a tactical philosophy which has generated a lot of criticism for manager Roberto Mancini.

Just park in front of the goal...
City have 26 points from 15 matches, Bolton have 23, but they have gained their points in very different manners.  Bolton have outscored their opponents, a leaky defense allowing 22 goals, yet scoring for themselves 28 times, fourth most in the league, and only one goal behind mighty Chelsea.  Manchester City have only scored 20 goals, middle of the pack, but they have conceded a miserly 12 goals, 2 more than Chelsea, but 4 less than anyone else.

The home team will play a 4-3-3, with all three midfielders being very central, holding players.  Bolton will play an attacking 4-4-2, with two true wingers pushing up alongside the strikers for long spells of the match.  A key man will be Stuart Holden, who will hopefully be recovered from last week's leg injury and able to feature from the start.  I have no doubt that if he is fit he will go back into the team, the question is who will be dropped.  Fabrice Muamba will start in the holding role regardless of match-up, but any combination from Holden, Mark Davies, Lee Chung-yong, Martin Petrov, Matt Taylor, or even Rodrigo Moreno could make up the other three midfielders.

As for Wanderers defensively, the biggest threat for City is enigmatic Italian Mario Balotelli.  He has been playing on the left side of the front three, which would match him up with Bolton's right back.  This is why I think we may see a return of Gretar Steinsson to the starting XI.  He kept Gareth Bale in his pocket a few weeks ago, and Owen Coyle will be hoping he can do the same to Balotelli.

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