Manchester City Preview (A) - October 6
SUNDERLAND WILL look to exploit the fact that Manchester City played in the Champions League this week as they head to the Etihad Stadium for a Premier League showdown this Saturday.
The League champions coughed and spluttered to a 1-1 draw against the reigning Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund, a late Mario Balotelli penalty getting the Citizens off the mark in this season's Champions League.
It was a far from impressive showing from Roberto Mancini's side on Wednesday night as they fell behind, deservedly, to a Marco Reus strike before Balotelli's last-gasp equaliser.
City's start to the 2012/13 season has been far from comprehensive, and already Mancini's side sit four points behind early pace-setters Chelsea.
The flitting between 3-4-3 and the more oft-employed 4-2-3-1 is undoubtedly a contributing factor, whilst Mancini spent much of the transfer window complaining that he was unable to add to his squad.
In spite of that owner Khaldoon Mubarak still financed the additions of Javi Garcia (Benfica), Jack Rodwell (Everton), Matija Nastasic (Fiorentina), Scott Sinclair (Swansea City) and Maicon (Inter Milan), at a rough cost of £61.2m.
What problems to have eh?
Sunderland of course brough winger Adam Johnson back to the north east - one of several departures offset against the cost of the five big additions.
Full Spanish international Garca, 25, has quickly settled into life at the goldfish bowl which is Manchester City, immediately making himself a mainstay of the side in the centre of midfield.
A goal on his debut away at Stoke City was the perfect way for the rangey midfielder to introduce himself to the Sky Blues' faithful, and the former Real Madrid and Benfica midfielder has continued to impress since.
At the tender age of just 19, Nastasic has been favoured to the much more experienced Joleon Lescott at the heart of the defence in recent weeks.
A highly-rated prospect with the Viola, City traded fellow defender Stefan Savic & £12m for the four-cap Serbian.
Nastasic made his Champions League debut in the defeat by Real Madrid on matchday one and also started the 1-1 draw with der BVB on Wednesday evening.
Sinclair at 23 is already at his 10th club - though six of those have only been loan agreements.
A former England U21 international, the former Swansea City flyer traded regular football in south Wales for a fight for his place at the Etihad, and has since made two league appearances.
Twenty-eight league strikes in 82 appearances for the Swans were enough to tempt Mancini into replacing now-Black Cat's winger Johnson with the former Bristol Rovers and Chelsea youngster.
Mancini has only a handful of injury concerns to contend with ahead of Saturday. Samir Nasri leads the way after picking up a knock against Dortmund, whilst Garcia strained his thigh in the same game.
Micah Richards and Maicon should both be fit to be considered for selection after ankle problems.
Martin O'Neill is without Wes Brown (knee) and Phil Bardsley (ankle), though Carlos Cuellar could return.
Lee Cattermole serves the second match of his three game ban.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy; Barry, Rodwell; Silva, Toure Y, Tevez; Aguero.
Sunderland: Mignolet; Gardner, O'Shea (c), Cuellar, Rose; Johnson, Larsson, Colback, McClean; Sessegnon; Fletcher.
Referee: Mr L Probert.
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