Cardiff City have the onerous task of stopping the Manchester City juggernaut smashing through the 100-goal mark today.
The struggling Welsh club travel to the Etihad Stadium looking like lambs to the slaughter against a City side needing only one goal to become the first English club to score 100 times by the end of January.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team have racked up 99 goals so far this season in 33 games, the last five coming in Wednesday’s FA Cup third round replay against Blackburn Rovers.
City are almost unbackable at 50-1 on to score a goal with bookmakers William Hill while odds on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Cardiff keeping a clean sheet are out at 16-1.
While the Blues have been creating a heady brew at The Etihad, scoring 64 goals there this season, manager Pellegrini remains a sober figure.
“We will try to do a good game for the fans--so far we are doing well but every game is different,” the Chilean told a news conference. “Cardiff only lost to Arsenal late on in the game so we are not thinking it will be an easy game.
“More goals are better but we prefer to be a balanced team.”
City have scored 59 goals in the Premier League as they look to chase down a number of records as well as trophies.
Aston Villa hold the record for most goals in a domestic top flight league campaign with 128 in 42 games in 1930-31 and Chelsea hold the Premier League record of 103 in 2009-10.
Cross-city rivals Manchester United hold the record goals haul in all competitions with Matt Busby’s side netting 143 in the 1956-57 season.
City have scored five goals three times, six goals three times, including against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and struck seven against Norwich City.
Worryingly for their rivals, their recent burst of scoring has been without Sergio Aguero who returned in midweek.
“(Edin) Dzeko and (Alvaro) Negredo are in very good moments and Sergio is just coming back from injury, so it’s good we have the three,” Pellegrini said.
“Sergio coming back from a long injury, he played 20 minutes the other night—we’ll see tomorrow if he starts.”
Negredo has scored 21 goals and Dzeko has helped himself to 15 so far this season while the returning Aguero has 20 and powerhouse midfielder Yaya Toure 13.
City will also have revenge on their mind after losing 3-2 to Cardiff earlier in the season—a defensive wake-up call according to Pellegrini.
“They scored with their first two corners which I think are the last two corners we’ve conceded from,” he said.
Ex-Man United striker Solskjaer faces a daunting trying to stop City but was making all the right noises yesterday.
“We’re relishing the challenge ahead. Going to the Etihad--you’re tested to your maximum,” he told Cardiff’s website (www.cardiffcityfc.com).
“You enjoy that. We feel we didn’t get what we deserved last weekend (in the defeat by West Ham), especially after our performance in the second half.”