Manchester City – West Ham United (Capital One Cup)
Sam Allardyce and his men visit the Etihad Stadium for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals. On Sunday they were hammered off the FA Cup by a Championship squad are will now try to avoid another embarrassment. Pellegrini will take a chance to get even closer to what may be his first silverware in his first year managing a team in England. The scale is tipping for Manchester but this is English football. Anything can happen, West Ham now only too well.
Saturday the Citizens were held to a 1-1 stalemate by the Rovers at Ewood Park in the third round of the FA Cup, forcing them to a rematch. Christmas injury season curse finally hit Etihad, proving that there’s no such thing as too much depth on a squad. To make matters worse Boyata was expelled in the final minutes and a red card should grant him a couple of games suspension .Stevan Jovetic, Sergio Aguero, Micah Richards, John Guidetti, Jack Rodwell and Martin Demichelis are all sidelined due to injury. Just this Tuesday Pellegrini announced Jesus Navas had a knee problem that would keep him out of the League Cup tie and possibly the Newcastle clash on Sunday. Apparently it’s not a serious issue but will narrow the Chilean’s options. Navas featured in 11 of the Blues December’s matches, it’s no wonder he’s picked up some nocks. He is now leading the team in assists, doing for Manchester City what Ozil has done for Arsenal and Rooney for Man United. Not bad for a Premier League debut. To reach the semi-finals Manchester City defeated Wigan Athletic (5-0), Newcastle (0-2 in overtime), and Leicester City (1-3). Despite the FA Cup stumble they are unbeaten for the last 13 games in all competitions (11 win and 2 draws).
Probable line-up: Pantilimon — Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov — Touré, Garcia — Navas, Nasri, Milner — Dzeko.
West Ham United are sitting at the bottom of the Premier League table, with 15 points. Behind them only Sunderland with 14. Their track record this season is by all accounts demoralizing, 7-6-12 in all competitions. Last Sunday they provided the big surprise of the FA Cup round, falling to the Blackburn Rovers, a Championship team, 5-0. The Hammers started a side with a handful of youngsters that were unable to stop a motivated and determined opposition. Once again Sam Allardyce’s job was thought to be in the balance but West Ham’s owners came out to give him a vote of confidence. Let’s see. They’ll probably kick his butt anyway at the end of the season, or sooner, but for now they try to appease the crowds. Allardyce recently expressed interest in taking City’s Joleon Lescott on loan. The centre-back has to play regularly in order to aspire to a spot in Brasil. In West Ham he would certainly be given a lot of minutes but will he be keen on leaving the Etihad for Upton Park?
Sam Allardyce is dealing with a long injury report. Andy Carroll, Wiston Reid, Vaz Te, James Tomkins, Mark Noble and James Collins are all in it. Kevin Nolan will serve the last of 4 match ban.
Probable line-up: Jaaskalainen — Demel, Johnson, O’Brian, McCartney — Diarra, Diamé — Downing, Morrison, Taylor — Maiga.
This is yet another fixture marked by the devastating effects of the Holliday season schedule. It’s almost a contest, who has the most crowded treatment room? Citizens and Hammers will start the game with a stalemate: six men down to injuries, one for suspension. The difference here lies in the quality of substitutes each side have. In this department Manchester City wins for a landslide, not just to West Ham United, to every Premier League side. Will the final scorer be evidence of that?