Manchester City resume the defence of their Premier League title with a trip to the Hawthorns, to play West Brom. The Baggies are enjoying their best start in the top division for over 90 years and will be unwilling to give up goals or points at home in this form.
Manager Steve Clarke has led West Brom to sixth in the league and the former Chelsea coach leads Arsenal by two points. Better still, the club is only a point behind the Manchester clubs, which lie in second and third. The home side will go into this game on the back of an exciting 3-2 home win against QPR.
Roberto Mancini's English champions, meanwhile, seem to be improving, albeit slowly and hesitantly, and seem poised to capture the kind of form that saw them dominate the opening half of last season. The disappointing 2-3 defeat to Real Madrid (Champions League) and 2-4 loss to Aston Villa (League Cup) aside, City have taken more points from their games this season than from the corresponding fixtures last year, and the comfortable 3-0 dismissal of Sunderland before the international break was a good sign.
Where to Watch Live
Kick-off is set for 3pm BST and live commentary will be available on BBC Radio 5 live. Free text updates can be found at Gamecast on Soccernet. Highlights of the match will be shown at 10.20pm BST on BBC One's (and BBC One HD) Match of the Day.
City will look to the last time these sides played and take confidence from the 4-0 win. However, the last time they played at the Hawthorns the match resulted in a scoreless draw... something Mancini cannot afford at the moment. The defending champions are already four points behind early leaders Chelsea and with difficult games like a trip to Ajax (24 October, Champions League) and the visit of Spurs in the next couple of weeks, the team need every point they can muster.
On paper, this is a game that City could win easily. However, upsets can happen and Mancini is aware of the danger. The Italian has warned his squad against underestimating their opponents who, he believes, have played some of the best football in the league.
"In this moment, I think West Bromwich is the team that has played the best football, so tomorrow for us it will be a tough game. It is always difficult, this game after the international break. Today is the first date we can work together.We need to think and we need to put everything we have into tomorrow's game because it will be very difficult. After that we think about the other games," the former Inter Milan manager said.
As far as the hosts are concerned, their biggest signing of the year has definitely been Steve Clarke. The 49-year-old Scot has learnt well, it seems, from his roles at Stamford Bridge and Liverpool, and the ex-Chelsea defender has done a fantastic job at the Hawthorns following Roy Hodgson's departure for the England job.
The fact the Baggies have kept three clean sheets this season, compared with City's one, suggests this will be a tough game for Sergio Aguero and his strike partners, even though the team have scored 15 goals (second only to Manchester United's 17) so far this season.
"The challenge for us is 11 versus 11 on a matchday, or 14 against 14 if you use the subs. That's the challenge. It doesn't matter how much they cost. We respect but we don't fear them and we'll look to give them a good game," Clarke told the club's official website.
West Bromwich Albion
- Last Five (Most Recent First): W D L W L
- Last Match: West Brom 3 - 2 QPR
- Last Five (Most Recent First): W D W L D
- Last Match: Manchester City 3 - 0 Sunderland
West Bromwich Albion: Saturday's hosts may be without midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, after the Congolese picked up a knock on international duty. The Baggies, however, will certainly be without Steven Reid, Chris Brunt, Billy Jones and Boaz Myhill, who are all long-term absentees. The good news is on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku and Liam Ridgewell are both expected to play, after recovering from ankle and calf injuries, respectively.
Clarke will likely start Lukaku and Peter Odemwingie up front, with James Morrison, Zoltan Gera and Claudio Yacob certain to start in midfield. If Mulumbu is fit, then the African too will start. If not, then Graham Dorrans is likely to fill in. Another likely option is to play Lukaku up front with Shane Long and drop Odemwingie to a wide position. At the back, Ben Foster will probably have Jonas Olsson, Goran Popov, Gareth McAuley and Gabriel Tamas in front of him.
Probable Line-Up: Foster; Olson, Popov, McAuley, Tamas; Mulumbu, Gera, Morrison, Yacob; Lukaku, Long
Manchester City: Mancini's biggest concern will be the injury to Spain's David Silva, who was stretchered off during the world champions' World Cup qualifier against France. The knock is not too serious but has ruled the former Valencia player out for at least 10 days. Mancini will also be without new signing Jack Rodwell, after the former Everton player tweaked his hamstring playing for the England U21 side. Meanwhile, Rodwell's fellow new signings Maicon and Javi Garcia will also be unavailable.
The good news is French playmaker Samir Nasri is expected to return to the squad and his introduction, particularly in the absence of Silva, will be welcome. Elsewhere, English international Gareth Barry will probably anchor the midfield once again, giving Ivory Coast star Yaya Toure and the Argentinean duo of Carlos Tevez and Aguero the task, along with Nasri, of scoring the needed goals.
At the back, in the absence of Maicon, Micah Richards, who had a good game against Sunderland, will likely retain his place on the right, ahead of Argentina's Pablo Zabaleta, as Mancini looks to rotate his squad. Belgium's Vincent Kompany, English international Joleon Lescott and Serbia's Aleksandr Kolarov will likely finish the defensive line-up, in front of Joe Hart.
Probable Line-Up: Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; Milner, Barry; Y Touré, Nasri, Tévez; Agüero
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