When Manchester City step out against QPR at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow 2,665 hours will have elapsed since the final whistle and the glorious conclusion of their last encounter.
How time flys when you’re enjoying yourself. City are now the Kings of English football and QPR will be virtually unrecognizable from the team which narrowly avoided relegation on that stupendous crazy and exhilarating May 13 afternoon.
Ex City boss Mark Hughes has assembled an almost completely new Who’s Who for his first team XI – I say who’s who on the basis the Ranger’s players could still be being introduced to each other come kick-off time!
Hughes had splashed QPR owner Tony Fernandes’ cash in a similar fashion to when let loose with Sheikh Mansour’s millions in 2009, probably with the same scattergun hit and miss results.
Little remains of Hughes’ legacy with Zabaleta, Lescott Kompany and Tevez probably the only survivors in first team contention for the game as Roberto Mancini moved out the deadwood to take City to a new level of excellence.
That said, City’s Premier League performances have left a lot to be desired thus far with a scrambled win over Southampton and a lucky, lack lustre draw at Liverpool.
Mancini himself will have presided over a hectic whirl of transfer activity in the run up to the game. At the time of writing City had dispensed with the services of Adebayor, Johnson, De Jong with Santa Cruz and Savic looking odds on to leave and the jury still out on Kolo Toure.
In their place has come Rodwell, Swansea’s Scott Sinclair, Inter Milan’s Brazilian ace, Maicon with a strong likelihood of Mitaj Nastasic from Fiorentina and Benfica’s Javier Garcia joining. The mouthwatering prospect of world class Italian midfielder Daniele De Rossi has steadily diminished but who knows what may or may not have happened by the 23.00hr deadline.
Despite a slow start to the defence of their crown, City will start as firm favourites to extend their unbeaten PL home record to 31 games as they seek to emulate the three points garnered from Rangers last time out.
Mancini will hopefully banish the dodgy defending of the past fortnight be it 3-5-2 or 4-4-2 formation because it is a worrying trend that City seem to have to score three goals to win a game of late.
On the upside Carlos Tevez is scoring a goal a game in competitive matches this season and showing no signs of letting up. Sadly, Sergio Aguero will be missing but thankfully only for a few weeks rather than months after his injury scare on the opening day.
David Silva and Mario Balotelli are still lacking match fitness after the Euro 2012 Final exploits so both may find themselves on the bench. It could be a chance for Edin Dzeko to stake a claim for more starts and Samir Nasri to move centre stage.
With such a massive changeover of personnel and City’s indifferent form Mancini’s men need to guard against complacency if they are to take maximum points.