Opposing View: Manchester City
Vital Manchester City vice-ed. Kieran Brooks gives us the lowdown on City ahead of Saturday's big tie at the Etihad Stadium...What were your hopes, fears & expectations for the season?
Hopes - that we would qualify for the knock out stages of the Champions League and continue to test ourselves against the best teams in Europe and that we would win another trophy, preferably retaining the Premier League title.
Fears - that we'd fail to get through to the knock-out stages of the Champions League because I think that is very much on the plan for the owners and is needed to demonstrate progress on the field and attract the investment required to manage the pressures of UEFA's Financial Fair Play.
Secondly, that we would get that we would struggle to repeat last season's early season form in the Premier League.
Expectations - that we will continue to challenge for the title and recover the ground we have conceded so far to take it to the wire again.Is the F.A Cup any kind of priority for City & Roberto Mancini?
I certainly think that it is and expect to see a strong side on Saturday although we will be missing Yaya Toure as he will have left for the African Cup of Nations (again!).
Mancini had an excellent record in cup competitions as a manager in Italy and I am sure he is a believer in the benefit of winning breeding success so I definitely think he will be up for the cup!Scenario-time: City fail to retain the Premier League title but scoop the F.A Cup - is Bobby Mancini on the dole on the Monday or not?
No. I believe that the owners are in this game for the long haul and understand that stability is the key to sustained success.
Of course I do not expect them to be happy if the title were not retained but few clubs have managed that feat in the Premier League. I believe that they understand football more than many 'pundits` and commentators have given them credit for and I don`t they are prone to 'knee jerk` managerial changes.
Finish outside the Champion`s League qualifying places and he might be on thinner ice though.Who will be the key man for City on Saturday?
Always a problem to single one player out when there is such resilience in the side and anyone is capable of making their mark but I`m going to plump for David Silva.
He`s almost worth paying the admission fee to watch on his own when he is on top form. He has settled now in the Premier League and the team always plays better when he is hungry for the ball.What sort of XI will Mancini be putting out for this one?
A strong one.
Despite the games coming thick at this time of year I think he appreciates the benefit of cup football and so will go for it. Plus as you`ll see below his options are limited by absences.Have you got any injury or suspension issues?
Oh yes indeed. We will be missing the Toure brothers & Abdul Razak due to international duty, Samir Nasri will be missing due to his suspension and Mario Balotelli has a virus. We have been carrying a number of injuries in defence especially which has limited his options at rotation plus we are playing Stoke on New Year`s Day which always carries with it an element of risk!One Citizen you'd drive to his next club & why?
Good question. According to the Official Site Wayne Bridge is still on the books so he would have been in pole position for seat in my humble Vauxhall.
You might expect it to have been Mario Balotelli given the baggage that he seems to carry but he has such talent that I`m going to give him a pass and a little more time. Besides I`m not sure that driving him about wouldn`t be too distracting & we might end up on a tour of a women`s prison!One Hornet (perhaps a hot prospect!) you'd sign & why?
Matej Vydra seems to be doing well for you guys with a decent scoring record of 12 goals in 22 games. At only 20 years of age he might be one for the future.Match prediction?
Cup matches are always a nightmare to predict. Zola isn`t the sort of guy who would want to grind out a dull draw and so I think it will be an entertaining game with City running out 3-0 winners!Cheers Kieran. Make sure to CLICK HERE to see how Kieran answered some questions for Vital Watford