Hull are City’s opponents this weekend with both sides searching for their first Premier League win in September. City’s last win in the Premiership was the 3-1 victory over Liverpool and it feels like a lifetime ago (Monday 25th August if you’re wondering). After defeat to Stoke; tough trips to the Emirates and the Allianz and the heavyweight bout with the league leaders last weekend, City will view this game as the one to get their season properly going. All told, the Blues are probably fairly happy with two points from the games against Arsenal and Chelsea but will surely expect to return from the North East with maximum points.
Although winless this month in the Premier League, City did return to winning ways on Wednesday night with an astonishing second half performance leading to a 7-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup. Of this victory Pellegrini said, “I think it was a very useful match for our team.” With Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure and Jesus Navas all registering their first goals of the season, I’m tempted to agree with him. He continued, “In the last four games, we didn’t win our games…It was important to win in the way we did on Wednesday and I hope this can continue in the future, especially tomorrow against Hull because in the Premier League we cannot drop more points.” That shock home defeat to Stoke has left the Blues with very little room to manoeuvre.
Unless the caretakers at the KC stadium have been out with the Polyfilla, Vincent Kompany might be able to see if the stud marks from his kick on the tunnel wall have lasted since March, when the two sides last met. The City captain was issued a straight red card in the first ten minutes which threatened to disrupt City’s challenge, not only in the match but in the title race. If Kompany’s right boot left a lasting impression on the KC’s brickwork, David Silva’s left boot certainly made an impression on the KC’s pitch, scoring a beautiful curling shot a mere 4 minutes after Kompany saw red. Silva sparkled in that game, seizing the leader’s mantle, vacated by Kompany, through that excellent goal and an assist for Edin Dzeko. The game ended 2-0 to the visitors and Silva was incredible from start to finish. The little Spaniard has shaken off the knock that kept him out of Wednesday’s game and, along with Sergio Aguero, is expected to return this weekend.
Martin Demichelis proved a few people wrong in this fixture last season, marshalling the defence in Kompany’s absence and playing the offside trap to perfection, catching the Tigers out with every advance. The Argentinian, however, can expect to find himself on the bench in this game after the partnership of Kompany and Mangala impressed in the draw against Chelsea. Despite scoring in that game, it is also unlikely that Frank Lampard will start at Hull but we’ve now seen what the 36-year-old can do from the bench. Samir Nasri has a groin problem that rules him out and Pellegrini expects both Stevan Jovetic and Fernando to return next week. Pablo Zabaleta is available again after his one-match suspension.
City took six points from Hull last season but they’re no walkover. You may remember that they held City for 65 minutes at the Etihad last season before Alvaro Negredo opened the scoring after coming on. Pellegrini said of Steve Bruce’s side, “We are going to find a very tough team in their home because they always play very strong, especially in aerial duels.” The hosts are likely to be without Gaston Ramirez but David Meyler is hoping to pass a late fitness test.
Only two points separate the two sides and both will be hoping to cast aside the stuttering form that has defined their seasons so far. City could be forgiven for their early season jitters having already played all of the teams that joined them in last season’s top four. This, though, is the fixture they will see as the one to truly kick-start their title defence. Pellegrini doesn’t seem fazed by the somewhat shaky start. The Chilean said, “For all the teams it is good not to drop points near the beginning because finally you are going to win or lose the Premier League by just one point but for the moment, we are not worried.”
written by Ciaran Murray