Manchester City will look to extend their home ground dominance when they take on West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium during their midweek clash.
The year hasn't exactly gone according to plan for Roberto Mancini's side—losing the Premier League title and not winning a game in the Champions League—but with a second-place finish and the possibility of winning the FA Cup as well, the 2012-13 season hasn't been a complete disaster for City.
West Brom pushed City all the way when they met earlier in the year at the Hawthorns, and will no doubt like their chances to topple the former league champions again.
Will that be the case, or will City prove too strong at home? Read on for a full preview of the match including all the key details and live viewing information.
Date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Start time: 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. British time)
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Live Stream and TV Information
Knowing that they weren't going to catch Manchester United in the Premier League title race has seen an interesting run of form lately from the Citizens, who have very little to play for in the domestic competition now—focusing their attention solely on their FA Cup Final against Wigan Athletic.
The Citizens have only lost one of their past six, and that was only after a blistering 10-minute spell by Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane saw them win 3-1.
City drew 0-0 with Swansea City on the weekend, and have not been beaten in their last eight home matches, with their last-minute defeat to United their only blemish on an otherwise very impressive home record this year.
West Brom too have experienced a strange run of form, with Steve Clarke's men nowhere near the tough defensive side that they were earlier in the season.
After a close 2-1 defeat to Arsenal at home, the Baggies had a draw against Newcastle United (who would get beat 6-0 the following week).
They then beat a surprisingly-impressive Southampton at St. Mary's Stadium (their biggest defeat since September and their biggest home defeat all year).
West Brom lost 3-2 on the weekend at home to the Latics—twice surrendering the lead before Callum McManaman grabbed a late winner for the visitors.
Key Player to Watch: Edin Dzeko, Manchester City, CF
Manchester City forward Edin Dzeko was the hero when City went to the Hawthorns earlier this year—netting two goals in 11 minutes to steal the three points.
And with City scheduled to play their FA Cup final against Wigan Athletic on the weekend, don't be surprised to see the Bosnia and Herzegovina international see plenty of minutes here as Roberto Mancini could well rest Carlos Tevez and/or Sergio Aguero.
Dzeko has been in fine form for City this year, but has come under growing transfer speculation as the club reportedly look into grabbing a new striker this summer.
He'll know that if he wants to stay at the Etihad, he needs to continually make his mark when given the opportunity. And if he doesn't want to say, then he'll also know that this is a great chance to impress any prospective employers who are keeping an eye on him at the moment.
Either way, Dzeko will know how important this game is in his career, and will relish the opportunity given to him. He tore open the Baggies' defense last time out, and given that City are in much better form now than they were then, he'll no doubt be a huge threat to watch for in this one.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: Will City Rest Players for the FA Cup?
As mentioned above, City will play Wigan in the FA Cup final on Saturday, and whilst Mancini has constantly put the league needs of City ahead of the knockout competition, it seems incredibly likely that he will rest some players ahead of their big showdown at Wembley Stadium.
Joe Hart will seemingly start here given that he's not being played in the final, but the rest of the starting team is seemingly still to be determined.
You'd have to think that either Tevez and/or Aguero will be rested; the same probably goes for Yaya Toure and David Silva in midfield. However, we don't yet know which players will be out and which will be in, and it's definitely a fascinating storyline to keep and eye on in this fixture.
As good as City are and as strong as their reserves like Dzeko can be, there's no doubting that a depleted squad will give the Baggies a better chance here.
Depending on the squad Mancini lines up this week, West Brom could be a surprise upset chance.
Manager's Top Quote: Steve Clarke, West Bromwich Albion
Clarke was quoted via Yahoo! Sports as saying:
They've [Manchester City] got a squad of players that is packed full of internationals. Whether Roberto chooses to play his full team in preparation for the final or whether he chooses to make some changes, they will be a strong team.
They're the champions of last season and they will want to finish well. We look forward to a difficult game, but it's a good game for us. Outside of our camp everybody expects us not to get a good result, but we're determined.
Three Stats to Consider
0. West Brom have not won in their last six EPL games against Manchester City.
5. The Baggies have also lost five of their last eight away games this year, though they have managed to keep clean sheets in three of their last five.
48. Manchester City have scored in their last 48 homes games in the Premier League, the longest run out of any team currently in the competition.
Even with a depleted squad and the Baggies inconsistent form potentially causing problems, it's hard to see Manchester City getting anything other than a win here.
They have been brilliant at home this season, and are in much better form than they were earlier in the year when they beat the Baggies.
City will want to keep that form going too, ahead of their FA Cup final, so expect them to be ruthless and aggressive here and take an early lead.
Ben Foster will certainly have his work cut out for him here, and whilst he'll no doubt make some strong saves, he won't be able to keep West Brom in this one.
Two early goals will be enough to get City home here as they turn their full attention to winning the domestic knockout competition at Wembley on Saturday.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, West Bromwich Albion 0
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