How Manchester City Will Line Up Against Norwich City

Tim OscroftContributor IOctober 31, 2013

Fernandinho will be back - but sadly not in this natty away kit.
Fernandinho will be back - but sadly not in this natty away kit.

Norwich City travel to Manchester on Saturday for the second time within a few days to face the Blues of Manchester City rather than the Reds of United.

Chris Hughton's side were on the wrong end of a 4-0 pasting at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup, and the odds are that the Premier League strugglers will come off second best at Etihad Stadium.

But Manchester City face questions in the wake of their defeat to Chelsea last Sunday. They really should have earned a point, but for the Joe Hart/Matija Nastasic mix-up at the death, and had played their part in a stirring encounter at Stamford Bridge.

But with an important Champions League tie in the offing a few days later, how will Manuel Pellegrini chop and change for the kind of home match in which they have traditionally steamrollered their way to victory in recent years?

Will Joe Hart be playing second fiddle to Costel Pantilimon at home to Norwich?
Will Joe Hart be playing second fiddle to Costel Pantilimon at home to Norwich?/Getty Images

My prediction: Costel Pantilimon; Micah Richards, Matija Nastasic, Martin Demichelis, Aleksandar Kolarov; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure; Jesus Navas, Sergio Aguero, David Silva; Edin Dzeko.

Okay, the big one first, in every sense.

Hart's most recent howler will finally see him moved out of the firing line to give 6'8" Costel Pantilimon his Premier League debut he deserves after a couple of fine saves at Newcastle on Wednesday. Pellegrini did not exactly go nuclear in backing Hart after last Sunday, but at least he did not lay into him in public as others (including Roberto Mancini) would have done.

That'll be the Chilean's famed man management, then.

Pablo Zabaleta remains the first-choice at right-back and will be back in for the CSKA Moscow match, but I think the Norwich game could see Richards get another run-out following the visit to Newcastle in midweek.

Vincent Kompany is, by all accounts, some way off fitness so the Nastasic-Demichelis axis will get another outing against an attack that has not given many people sleepless nights so far. Gael Clichy's pre-Halloween horror show means another outing for Kolarov, who really should be starting every game at left-back now.

Even with the European test to come, Fernandinho should return alongside Yaya Toure for Norwich. Yes, there are more huge games on the horizon, and more rest would be good, but Jack Rodwell did not do enough to stake a claim at Newcastle.

Edin Dzeko was provider and scorer in midweek, and deserves another start.
Edin Dzeko was provider and scorer in midweek, and deserves another start./Getty Images

Norwich should provide Silva and Navas with the scope to show off their talents, which is tough on Samir Nasri. He's impressed at times this term, but I think he may be kept back for CSKA Moscow.

Aguero may have been another player to be rested under different circumstances, but Stevan Jovetic's injury on Wednesday will see the in-form Argentine play. In tandem with him will be Dzeko rather than Alvaro Negredo, who could be held back for Europe despite his goal at Newcastle.

Dzeko has a good record against, dare we say, weaker sides like Norwich. He scored twice against them away last season and was good value for his smartly-taken goal at St James' Park. 

City need a win to start making up ground they lost on the sides above them through their poor away form. They really should get the better of the beleaguered Canaries whatever side they put out.

But, as ever, feel free to disagree via the comments section, or Tweet me @TimOscroft.

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