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Rupert Wyman 13th Mar 2010 - 16:47

A vastly improved Manchester City

It is hard to make out Manchester City, a few weeks ago they struggled to pass a ball at the KC Stadium against Hull and were knocked out of the FA Cup at Stoke in a replay.

They have vastly improved since then and proved to be a very profitable long shot for anyone brave enough to back them against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which was once a fortress.  They now find themselves favourites with William Hill at 11/8 to get that prestigious, all important fourth position. Their fan's dream of a possible Champions league spot could become reality. Tottenham currently occupy fourth spot but City are level on points with a game in hand.

Their Champions League credentials will be tested further, by a visit to the Stadium of Light on Sunday. The players should be fresh after a decent break between games.

Sunderland also aim to back up an impressive victory against Bolton with a win against Manchester City, they thrashed Owen Coyle's side 4-0 on Tuesday, to end a wretched run of fourteen league games without a win.

Sunderland fans have recently started to realise, that the threat of relegation exists and their slump saw them fall from eighth to sixteenth place in the league. The confidence boosting result came thanks to a Darren Bent hat-trick, he has now scored eighteen league goals this season but is still overlooked by England manager Capello.

Steve Bruce has lamented the depth of his squad this season and he cannot put out the same starting eleven that defeated Bolton because his skipper Cana, begins his two match-match ban for picking up his tenth yellow card of the season.

A general overview of the squad shows that they have the necessary quality to be in the upper reaches of the Premier League table, they should not be struggling around the bottom.

Bruce also spent a reasonable amount of money in the summer last year, the only reason for their horrendous slip in form must be due to player confidence. It is often very difficult to play your way out of a terrible rut!

The Black Cats are certainly capable of defeating City and the wins at home to Liverpool and Arsenal earlier this season prove it!

My main criticism of the side is their inability to finish off teams, they have drawn four of their last five games at the Stadium of Light. With a strike-force containing - Darren Bent, Kenwyne Jones and Fraizer Campbell, they should not be struggling for goals at this level. Until the Black Cats put four past Bolton, they had not scored more than one goal in each of their previous seven home matches.

Andy Reid is definitely unavailable with a hamstring injury and Lee Cattermole is a doubt after aggravating a similar knock.

Manchester City are still without Adebayor, he has only served one game of his four game ban. Petrov and Johnson are still injured, but Vieira returns after his three match ban.

After City's impressive win at Chelsea, I will ignore their usual travel sickness and back them for the win at 23/20, their first team is a different class to Sunderland's and with the Weirsider's having already played this week, I think a City win is inevitable.

City's Craig Bellamy is a former Newcastle player and is likely to receive plenty of stick from the home fans, yet he thrives in these situations. I would back Bellamy to be first scorer at 6/1, he has never had a confidence problem and would enjoy nothing more than to upset the folk on Weirside!

You would be sure to hear about it in the media afterwards, he is always the loudest voice coming out of Eastlands.



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