City are back. The international break is over and it’s a trip to the south coast to face Eddie Howe’s in-form Bournemouth side. For some odd reason, I’m relatively optimistic and am looking forward to the game – absence makes the heart grow fonder? Well, it may, but in all honesty there’s been little cause for optimism recently. Since the Guardiola announcement on February 1st, we’ve taken seven points from seven games in the league, scoring seven goals. Since Kevin De Bruyne’s ligament injuries, our attacking play has become awfully predictable – relying heavily upon the effervescent Sergio Aguero to score a goal out of nothing. But as the law of averages suggests, this often hasn’t happened, and thus City often have scored. However, our fortunes could be about to change. Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri are both back in full training, and have travelled with the squad to Bournemouth.
The big news, as I’ve just mentioned, is that Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri are both back in the match day squad. Players that return from long injury lay-off’s often warm the bench for a couple of weeks upon their return, in an attempt to build their fitness levels. However, in this case, the fixture list has been kind to us City fans. The international break has afforded our attacking pair the opportunity to get some much-needed minutes under their belt in a behind-closed-doors match with the EDS. Pellegrini also suggested in his press conference that it is more the case that the pair may struggle to last the full ninety as opposed to not yet being fit enough to make a cameo – which is extremely encouraging.
Having said that however, I’d suggest that it’s unlikely that both will start. With the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday and Nasri ineligible to play against PSG, I’d argue that he is more likely candidate to start. As far as I’m aware, he’s also been training outside slightly longer than Kevin De Bruyne too. There’s a real excitement around Nasri’s return, and rightly so. His phenomenal ball-retention skills have been sorely missed this season, given our tendency to relinquish possession when building an attack.
Pellegrini: KDB and Nasri are fit to face Bournemouth tomorrow. Demichelis in the squad.
Hart, Kompany, Yaya, Sterling, Delph ruled out.
— City Watch (@City_Watch) April 1, 2016
Aside from Nasri and De Bruyne, we will also welcome the erratic Nicolas Otamendi back into the squad. Otamendi is a divisive figure amongst City fans – one who has struggled to convince with his performances this season. However, I believe I speak on behalf of all City fans when I say it’s probably a good thing that Martin Demichelis won’t be starting this weekend. Poor Martin. Put those betting slips away lad.
Mangala will partner Otamendi at centre half, whilst Clichy should continue at left back with Pablo Zabaleta likely to get the nod on the opposite flank with Sagna kept in reserve for PSG. Yaya is out with a knee problem and is losing a race to be fit in time for Wednesday, so the central midfield axis will undoubtedly be Fernando-Fernandinho. It’s a similar story for Joe Hart too, whose calf injury means that the no. 1 don Willy Caballero will start. Scenes.
Bearing all that in mind, here is the team I think Pellegrini will go with:
What do you think City’s team will be? Use our Squad Selector to put together your ideal starting XI!
Note: This Squad Selector is updated weekly, and thus only contains players who are available for this fixture. Check out our full Squad Selector for an extended version.