Man City v Blackburn preview
City aim to maintain Euro push while Rovers edge towards safety
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: 01/05/09 12:08pm
Robinho: Back in the goals
Manchester City will aim to boost their European push by claiming a third straight win at home to lowly Blackburn on Saturday.
After getting knocked out of the Uefa Cup quarter-finals two weeks ago, the Blues knew only a strong Premier League finish would see them remain in Europe next season.
And the Blues have made the perfect response to that heart-breaking exit against Hamburg, winning 4-2 at home to West Brom before clinching a 2-1 win at Everton last week.
That was only City's second away win in the league this season - and their first in eight months - and they are now just three points off seventh-placed Fulham with four games remaining.
However, City have failed to win in their last 11 meetings with Blackburn and Rovers make the short trip across Lancashire in high spirits having claimed a crucial 2-0 win at home to Wigan last week.
That moved Sam Allardyce's men a step closer to Premier League survival as it opened up a six-point gap between themselves and the bottom three.
Middlesbrough and Newcastle are unlikely to cut the deficit this weekend as they face title rivals Manchester United and Liverpool, respectively, which is sure to provide some relief to Blackburn given City's superb home record.
The Blues have turned Eastlands into a fortress this season, with only United having won more home games in the Premier League, and they will have a rejuvenated Robinho on the prowl.
The Brazilian star is back on the goal trail after scoring in the last two games to halt a 17-match drought, while international team-mate Elano has also returned to form in the absence of winger Shaun Wright-Phillips through injury.
Wright-Phillips (ankle) is set to remain out while Daniel Sturridge (hip) and Pablo Zabaleta (hamstring) are also sidelined.
Former Blackburn boss Mark Hughes is expected to name an unchanged line-up if defender Micah Richards can recover from the knee injury that forced him off against Everton.
Blackburn will be without midfielder David Dunn for the rest of the season after Allardyce confirmed he has had surgery on an Achilles problem.
Long-term City target Roque Santa Cruz (knee) and fellow frontman Jason Roberts (fractured metatarsal) remain out so Christopher Samba could continue as a make-shift striker.
Possible starting XIs
Man City: Given, Richards, Onuoha, Dunne, Bridge, De Jong, Kompany, Elano, Ireland, Robinho, Caicedo.
Blackburn: Robinson, Ooijer, Nelsen, Givet, Warnock, Diouf, Grella, Tugay, Pedersen, Samba, McCarthy.
Barclays Premier League
|10||West Bromwich Albion||6||8|
|13||West Ham United||6||7|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||6||4|