With the Blues not returning to action until Monday night at Liverpool, this weekend sees Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea get the chance to heap further pressure on Roberto Mancini´s men in the race for the top four. Both clubs must put the disappointment of midweek Champions League defeat to Manchester United and Real Madrid respectively behind them, with Chelsea facing Wigan Athletic at Stamford Bridge and Spurs taking on Stoke City at White Hart Lane.
Traditionally Anfield has not been a happy hunting ground for the Citizens, yet their recent form against the Merseysiders makes encouraging reading, having won one and drawn three of the last three Premier League games. However, a disappointing season by Liverpool´s own standards does not mean it will be straightforward. The Reds have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League home games and scored in all of their last 13 league outings, while City have not won any of their last five away league games, losing three of them. Carlos Tevez has scored four goals in six Premier League appearances against Liverpool and City fans will be hoping their talisman´s good run continues.
With Mancini expected to adopt his squad rotation policy it could mean possible recalls for Gareth Barry, James Milner and Edin Dzeko, while right-back Dedryck Boyata is hoping to retain his position in the side after an impressive display against Sunderland last Sunday. Boyata´s chances depend on how Pablo Zabaleta has recovered from the visit to see his sick father in Argentina. In the meantime, former Aston Villa player Barry insists the need is to focus on the Liverpool game and put all thoughts of the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United five days later to one side: “It
Despite reports suggesting Shaun Wright-Phillips could be on his way out of Eastlands come the end of the season, the England winger says he would like nothing better than to end his career with the Blues. “It feels like I am part of the furniture,” he told the club´s official website, “and I´d love to retire a City player. I have my fingers crossed it can still happen.”
Wright-Phillips is in his tenth year at City, having joined in 1998 before spending three years with Chelsea and returning in August 2008, yet this season has possibly been his most difficult to date. Given limited playing time so far this term, he was made available for transfer during the January window, but despite interest from Bolton Wanderers and Fulham nobody was prepared to take him on a permanent deal.
Although it seems likely he will still leave this summer it will be purely in a bid to play more first-team football: “I handed in a transfer request solely because I wanted to play football and no other reason” he explained, “and not because I actually wanted to leave.”