West Brom-Manchester City Preview
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has some big decisions to make for Saturday's late kick-off at the Etihad Stadium against a West Bromwich Albion side that probably has little on the line but has shown some decent away form of late.
City have this match sandwiched between the club's first Champions League quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain. Pellegrini's side have one foot in the semi-finals after earning a 2-2 draw Wednesday in the first leg in Paris with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho.
That sets up Manchester City nicely to progress Tuesday at the Etihad, especially since PSG have two key players injured and two more suspended. But first, there's the business of battling the Baggies over the weekend.
City (16-6-9) are in fourth in the Premier League with 54 points - one more than Manchester United in the race for the final Champions League slot. Of course, the club can also guarantee a place by lifting the European Cup in Milan on May 28.
It leaves Pellegrini in a delicate position for Saturday after a thrilling night in France.
''It's absolutely open and we need to have a very good game in Manchester (because) PSG play at home and away in the same way,'' Pellegrini said. ''We made important mistakes that we can't do if we want to win the Champions League."
Goalkeeper Joe Hart was a bit of a surprise inclusion after he was in doubt with a calf injury. The club is without midfielder Yaya Toure and central defender Vincent Kompany.
It's possible Pellegrini could turn to backup keeper Willy Caballero, who started last Saturday's 4-0 rout at Bournemouth, in order to rest Hart.
''We are making history for this club,'' Hart said. ''Two away goals is great, hopefully we make them count."
History dictates that it really shouldn't matter who City put in the team since they have won eight straight over the Baggies (10-10-11) with a 22-5 cushion in goals. David Silva, Toure and Kompany were on target in a 3-0 victory at The Hawthorns in the Aug. 10 opener as City held 63 percent possession with a 19-9 edge in overall shots.
West Brom are 11th on 40 points after last Saturday's scoreless draw at Sunderland. Reaching that plateau was a target for manager Tony Pulis, whose side still have fixtures with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
"I'm pleased," Pulis told the club's official website. "With a few games left to go to get to 40 is first class because we have some tough games coming up.
"It's been an unusual season - when you look at Villa, Newcastle, Sunderland... nobody should ever take anything for granted in this league."
West Brom have also drawn at leaders Leicester City and won at Everton over their last three away fixtures.
Jose Rondon had not yet made his club debut when these sides first met. He has seven goals to top the Baggies.
Sergio Aguero has 17 Premier League goals to rank fourth in the top flight, although it's possible he may not start as preparation for Tuesday night.