Date: 13th May 2011 at 1:52pm
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The car’s full of petrol and the Pedmachine is getting ready to head for Wembley.

I think we are well aware that Stoke City present a stern test tomorrow and that the Blues will need to be at their very best to be last up the famous steps at around 4.50 tomorrow evening.

Both managers are facing dilemmas as to whether they should risk injury returnees. Stoke rely heavily upon Etherington to provide width and deliver crosses for their giants,one of which, Huth is another doubt for Tony Pulis.

For Roberto Mancini – does he risk his top goalscorer who has only played 10 minutes in six weeks having admitted that the type of injury Tevez sustained generally keeps players out longer.

That one really is a puzzle. If his hamstring goes early on Mancini would be faced with bringing on Balotelli who will be disgruntled that he didn’t start and may be in an indifferent frame of mind. David Platt says that the decision will be up to Tevez. That being the case I would suggest the decision has already been taken.

So it looks as though behind that we will load the midfield with Yaya told to get forward and support the striker, Johnson told to keep tabs on Etherington if he plays but to get forward and wide himself, Silva to be…Silva. Did not the midweek commentator say he doesn’t have a left foot he has a left wand? De Jong will steady the ship and Barry if fit wil get the ball moving.

The backline ideally will be Richards, whose renaissance has been amazing, Kompany, who has been awesome all season, Lescott who seems to have improved considerably and Zabaleta, the model professional.

The fingernails are well cut back and I have to admit to some uncertainty. Stoke play almost a unique brand of football, have not recently been strangers to the back of the net and are more robust than most teams. After all they destroyed the Ashburton Assassins last week.

We have got enough to creep over the finishing line tomorrow, but it needs to come out all guns blazing for us all to be doing the Poznan, hopefully more than once.

On the subject of guns blazing will they be blazing when Arsenal take on Aston Villa this weekend? They will be aware that City are now breathing down their necks, sore at having lost against Everton. They have bottled it in every major match they have played in this season with the exception of Stretford Green and Golders, so I will be looking for more of the same please from them against Villa. In many ways it is a pity that Villa are relatively safe now and are only playing for the next £500k if they finish a place higher. But it would be a bit ironic and in keeping with their work for the last five years if they decided to give up third place to a team who will take it from them next season anyway. Indeed I fancy us taking places off Chelsea and hopefully United next season as well.

But first it’s onto the M6 and off to the nation’s favourite football stadium where I hope that the trophy drought comes to an end. Will Tevez deliver?

 

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