WIGAN v MANCHESTER CITY – Battle of the Bobs

When it comes to the battle of the Roberto’s tonight it’s a question of who will Wigan put on the field – Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde?

For a team who are perennial relegation strugglers Wigan are more than capable of beating the best in the land on their day.

Manchester City fans will be more than happy to evidence that fact with fond memories of a Shaun Maloney goal, marking the beginning of the end for Manchester United in the race for the Premier League title last season.

Irrespective of how Roberto Martinez’ men shape up tonight, City will surely have enough to cope with whatever is thrown at them at the DW Stadium. That said, there is obvious room for improvement in the form of the Champions away from Fortress Etihad.

Having re-established their credentials as the meanest defence in the PL, the focus has switched from back to front and a slightly alarming lack of firepower on their travels.

With just seven goals scored in six games, the spotlight falls on Messrs Aguero, Tevez, Dzeko and Balotelli in particular. The much vaunted quartet are the envy of the PL and yet one can’t help thinking there is so much more to come.

Comparisons with the free scoring phenomenon that City were in the first quarter of last season are inevitable but perhaps unfair. Nonetheless the production of goals is only half of what City achieve in front of their home crowd, where they have netted 18 in seven outings.

Undefeated and just one point off the top, City are in good shape, especially on the basis of the universal perception that Mancini’s side has still to work their way through the gears.

Carlos Tevez could consider himself unlucky not to start at Chelsea, especially with his excellent haul of goals against the European champions. Edin Dzeko was given another chance to replicate his outstanding contributions from the subs’ bench from the kick off. Sadly, he once again failed to do so.

In playing fair with Dzeko, one cannot but feel that Mancini is actually proving a point that the Bosnian is nowhere near as effective as a starter as he is a ‘supersub’.

Sergio Aguero is the undisputed first choice striker at the club, but he had arguably his most anonymous showing of his City career in the frustrating 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge.

This brings us to Mario. After a summer when he won global recognition with his one-man demolition of the mighty Germans at Euro 2012,the enigmatic Italian has yet to score in the PL after participating in 10 games. Contrast this with a hefty haul of 11 goals in his 14 appearances last season and questions simply have to be asked.

Rumours of a return to Milan, either with Inter or AC, or even a switch to PSG and a reconciliation with his former Inter Milan strike partner, Zlatan Ibrahimovich, are common back page currency in recent weeks.

Fact or fiction – who knows? Either way, getting back among the goals can only aid his cause either to re-establish himself at City or get a move away.

When Wigan first ascended to the top flight of English football City could not find a way past them for love nor money. But five consecutive wins and no goals conceded is a handsome return in recent times and the Sky Blues are more than capable of making it six on the bounce tonight.

Buoyed by the 3-2 win over Reading, Wigan will do battle, particularly in midfield with their ‘Mac-Attack’ of McCarthy and McArthur happy to make life uncomfortable for Barry, Yaya, Silva and Co.


 


Key men Maloney and Gary Caldwell face late fitness tests, whereas City’s injuries lie with the back line with no Richards, Clichy or Rodwell.

City should have made an insipid Chelsea pay on Sunday but only came away with a point, much merited as it was. A draw or – God forbid – a defeat would put a big dent in City’s assault on the PL summit.

It shouldn’t happen. City should be 20 games undefeated by 22.00hrs and on course to top their longest top flight unbeaten run of 22 games, set way back in 1936-37. But, as David Platt, City’s Assistant Manager highlighted, going undefeated and winning are entirely different things.

One can only hope that Roberto has a big winning smile at the end of the evening and that it’s the Italian and not the Spanish version.

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