Etihad Stadium — Manchester April 17, 2013 KO 7:45 PM BST
By Sam Wells
Roberto Mancini looks set to make wholesale changes to the side that overcame Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final as he seeks to ensure that his team are fresh when these two sides meet again at Wembley.
The rotated line-up will most likely mean a recall for Micah Richards, who hasn’t played since picking up a knee injury in October, while Aleksandar Kolarov is also likely to come in for a rare start having not played in a month.
Javi Garcia and Edin Dzeko are also likely to come in, with Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Gael Clichy, Gareth Barry and Carlos Tevez all making way from the team that triumphed on Sunday.
Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, will be looking to capitalise on their below-strength opposition with practically the same team that earned Wigan a pass to the final by virtue of a 2-0 win over Millwall.
On-loan goalkeeper Joel does, however, look set to return, replacing Ali Al-Habsi who, prior to their FA Cup win over Millwall, had not featured for the Latics since their 4-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool back in early March.
Otherwise, the Spanish coach faces no fresh injury concerns and appears intent upon retaining the same outfield line-up that has started every game (and remained unbeaten) since that defeat against the Reds.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Manchester City have an extremely impressive record against Wigan – they have not conceded against the Latics since October 2009, which was also the last time they dropped points in the fixture as Charles N’Zogbia and Martin Petrov scored in a 1-1 draw.
- City have allowed the opposition a meagre 76 shots on target in the Premier League in 2012-13, the lowest tally of any team in the top flight; they have also conceded the fewest goals.
- The defending champions are also yet to lose after taking the lead in the Premier League this season, having won 18 and drawn two from winning positions.
- Mancini’s men have another lucky charm in Sergio Aguero – whenever the Argentine has scored in the Premier League, they have not lost, winning 23 and drawing two of the games he has scored in.
- Wigan do, however, have some cause for optimism; Roberto Martinez’s side have the best away record among clubs currently in the bottom half of the table. The Latics have won four, drawn two and lost eight of their games away from home this season.
- The away side are also in fine form, having earned 10 points from their last five games after managing only a meagre seven points from their previous 13 matches.
- Arouna Kone [pictured right] has led their now-customary late-season charge with six goals in his last eight Premier League appearances.