Saturday, May 21, 2011

Match Preview: Bolton v Manchester City May 22, 2011

Paul Robinson is bitterly disappointed at Bolton's finish to the season and is looking to sign off with a win over high-flying Manchester City.

Wanderers slumped to their fourth successive defeat of the season with a 4-3 defeat at Blackpool last weekend and are now in danger of throwing away a top-10 finish.

After the thrills of an epic FA Cup run, ending in a 5-0 semi-final thrashing against Stoke, their campaign has soured.

But a victory over Champions League-bound Manchester City at the Reebok on Sunday could lift them out of the slump. 

"We’ve thrown away Europe, now we could throw away a top-10 position," fullback Robinson said.

"Of course I’m not happy because I wanted to go into Europe. I’m 32 now and maybe I’ll never get another chance."

"We’ve got to pick ourselves up now because we can’t finish the last game on a downer."

But ending the season with victory against City will be no formality.

Roberto Mancini's expensively assembled side are now third in the table, with an automatic route into the Champions League group stages theirs for the taking, provided they finish above Arsenal.

"We’ve got to take the game to Manchester City," Robinson said. 

"Yes, they’ve qualified for the Champions League and won the FA Cup, and good luck to them, but we’ve got to end the season at home on a high, simple as that."

One player who will be out to impress manager Owen Coyle against City is club stalwart Ricardo Gardner. 

The 32-year-old midfielder is out of contract in the summer and had been tipped to leave the club at the end of the season after 13 years of service. 

Gardner, who signed for the club as a teenager shortly after the 1998 World Cup, is hoping the team can finish in style. 

"We have to get our heads around it (the loss at Blackpool) and respond against Manchester City in the last game at home," Gardner said. 

"We need to finish as high up the table as possible."

For City, finishing third and avoiding the Champions League qualification rounds would cap off a season of progress under Mancini. 

They had their second victory over Stoke in as many matches on Tuesday, following up a 1-0 FA Cup final victory with a 3-0 win at home in the league.

Captain and striker Carlos Tevez struck twice, including an unstoppable free-kick, in the victory at Eastlands and is likely to be the chief threat to Bolton's hopes of a morale-boosting last-day triumph.


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