City fans had allowed themselves to dream of a Premier League title push but that target seems a long way off on current form. The Blues twice relinquished the lead against Birmingham in mid-week to see them fall eight points behind neighbours Manchester United.
Such results have become the bane of manager Roberto Mancini's existence and his frustration was clear for all to see on the final whistle. Certainly, the free-scoring performances of mid-January have fallen away in defeat to Aston Villa, and stalemates with League One Notts County in the FA Cup and Alex McLeish's men.
With United now disappearing into the horizon, nothing but a draw against their parachuting visitors at the weekend will be acceptable. Drop more points and the desire to repay owner Sheikh Mansour's investment in trophies will not be quenched.
Fortune Needed To Beat Drop
Marc-Antoine Fortune's leveller against Wigan covered the cracks but the Baggies now seem set for a relegation scrap. The promoted side took to the top flight like they'd never been away at the start of the season as they sat happily in the top half of the table.
A run of one win in their last eight games has stopped the feel good factor at The Hawthorns, however. Boss Roberto Di Matteo desperately needs a change of form from somewhere and the come-from-behind draw on their last trip to Manchester owed much to 'Lady Luck.'
A deflection off Patrice Evra and shock fumble from Edwin van Sar saw a point gained at United. A similar upturn in fortune could see Marc-Antoine's strike not be in vain at the end of the campaign.
Micah Richards is set to miss out after he was concussed in the 2-2 draw with Birmingham City on Wednesday. The right-back will join fellow England international Adam Johnson on the sidelines after he injured ankle ligaments in training and is set to be out of action until April.
Striker Mario Balotelli is also set to be absent, with the upcoming derby against Manchester United pencilled in for his return. Yaya Toure, is however, believed to have recovered from a sore throat.
Possible starting XI: Hart; Zabaleta, K Toure, Kompany, Kolarov; De Jong, Barry; Tevez, Yaya Toure, Silva; Dzeko.
Fresh from making his bow against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday, Arsenal loanee Carlos Vela should be thrust into action from the start. The striker's arrival is timely after Peter Odemwingie picked up an ankle knock in the same game that is threatening his participation.
Pablo Ibanez is also in line to miss out with a hamstring injury. Fellow centre-back Gabriel Tamas is back after suspension.
Striker Roman Bednar has been loaned to Turkish outfit MKE Ankaragucu.
Possible starting XI: Myhill; Jara, Tamas, Olsson, Cech; Mulumbu, Scharner; Vela, Brunt, Thomas; Fortune.
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