Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Invisible Man's Match Preview - Bolton (Away)

Well it's that time of the year again, the final weekend of another season.  Normally the last day for City is a pretty meaningless affair, this year however there is a lot on the minds of players and fans alike, a month ago if offered a 4th place finish and the first trophy for 35 years many of us would have been ecstatic, going into this final Sunday however, that result would be slightly underwhelming.

Roberto Mancini and his team just have to match whatever Arsenal do at Craven Cottage, the target however will be to win, rendering whatever Wenger and his side manage meaningless.  It is a shame therefore that this massive game comes at a ground where City haven't managed a win since 2004.

Trotters - City: Head To Head

Whilst wins at the Reebok have been thin on the ground, our overall form against Bolton isn't too awful, of the last 4 meetings home and away, we have won 3 and drawn 1.  The last 5 away games however have brought a meagre 2 points from a couple of draws and three defeats, lets hope for that first victory tomorrow.

What's Riding on it?

Clearly City have more to play for going into the final day.  The Trotters currently sit 10th and know that a win could move them as high as 8th if results go their way and that would be a good achievement for Owen Coyle and his squad.

The real awards though are with Mancini, securing 3rd place will avoid the very tricky Champions League qualification round and it would wrap up an extremely successful season.

Recent Form

City are currently enjoying a fine spell of results, they have won 6 of their last 7 matches in all competitions one of which secured the FA Cup.  The one defeat coming at Goodison Park in a game that I think most fans have written off from now until eternity.

The lifting of the FA Cup will have done an awful lot for the morale and belief in the City camp and at the time I thought it not unlikely that the side would win their final 2 games thus securing 3rd.  Even taking the cup success out of the equation our league form is pretty impressive, ignoring the blip at Everton things seem to be improving winning 5 of our last 7 outings.

Goals have been coming from different people as well, something which is particularly pleasing, I wonder what odds you could have got on the only City goals against West Ham being provided by Nigel De Jong and Pablo Zabaleta.

Bolton on the other hand are struggling, their season so far has been good but lately they have began to falter.  They have lost 4 successive games in the league, and lost 6 of their last 8 in total, at home however things are slightly better as they have managed to win 5 of their 6 at the Reebok, probably the most notable of which being against Arsenal.

With there being little to play for however their patchy form might hurt them against City who know that they need to win really.

Who Could Hurt Us?

 Daniel Sturridge - Since he moved on loan from Stamford Bridge the greedy toe-rag has managed 8 goals for Bolton, leaving him only 2 behind Johan Elmander who has played the whole season.  City fans know all about the threat that the striker carries, he possesses electric pace, great trickery and an excellent left foot.  He may also feel he has a point to prove, although that would be strange since the club did everything in their power to keep him.  His desire to spoil the City party will be strong and I expect him to be giving it his all, hopefully the traveling support can help him further question his decision to quit Eastlands for the Stamford Bridge dugout.
Who Can Hurt Them?

Carlos Tevez - The Argentine is in pretty good form after his superb double against Stoke on Tuesday night, he also looked to be approaching full fitness again after a somewhat rusty performance in the cup final.  He has a great scoring record against Bolton, he sunk them at Eastlands earlier this campaign and he tortured them at the Reebok last season scoring twice in a 3-3 thriller.  If certain rumours are to be believed about this being his final game for the club, I think he will do all he can to ensure victory for the club that have paid his huge wages for the past couple of years.  His understanding and interplay with Silva could be too much for Bolton to cope with and I firmly expect Tevez to get on the score sheet.

What of the all important score line then, well to get straight to the point I am going to go for a 2-1 win for City, I think it will be incredibly tight and a pretty nervy affair but I expect Mancini and his team to come through with the required 3 points for a 3rd place finish.  Having said all that, I don't think Arsenal will get more than a point at Craven Cottage anyway so I think we will do it with points to spare.

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