Venue: Liberty Stadium
Date: 24 September 2016
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Kick off: 15:00
UK TV: Not on TV.
The run continues. City made it nine wins out of nine on Wednesday with a win down in Swansea. Needless to say, despite our high expectations of life under Pep, nobody could’ve seen such a perfect start coming.
Now though, it’s the pursuit of win number ten. Familiar territory awaits the Blues, with Wednesday’s League Cup opponents again City’s counterparts this weekend. The game should see differing line-ups to the cup clash, with many first-team players returning to the starting XI. So, what is there to consider before our second trip to Swansea this week?
The Return of Kun
Saturday will see the return of our Argentinian talisman, a fact that is unlikely to evoke any enthusiasm from our opponents. Aguero has been in arguably his most lethal form since joining City back in 2011. Two hat-tricks contribute to his nine goals in total thus far, along with a brace away at Stoke and a solitary goal at home to Sunderland. Kun is in scintillating form, and after a ten day rest, you’d like to think he’ll be raring to go. Especially when then the last time he stepped on the field he was putting three past Borussia Monchengladbach. Aguero’s absence could’ve been disastrous, in previous seasons it may well have proven to be. However, with the attacking options at Pep’s disposal, along with a young Nigerian forward who is constantly hungry for goals, it’s easy to understand why City got through unscathed. It is perhaps a shame for Kelechi Iheanacho that his place as our starting striker will for now be stalled, but his time will come – and when Sergio Aguero is fit, Sergio Aguero plays.
It may be surprising to some, but I think that Leroy Sané has struggled a little bit since joining City. Don’t get me wrong, the guy isn’t a miracle worker. He’s had little in terms of league minutes to establish himself, but for the time being at least I wouldn’t have the young German down as a starter. Pep does however have to make a decision as to who to start in Nolito’s place on Saturday. There are a few options, but it isn’t all that easy to decide which would be most fruitful. Guardiola could either start Jesus Navas and Raheem Sterling on the wings, with any three from Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva or Kevin De Bruyne getting the nod. Or he could opt for all four of those aforementioned players, along with Sterling to add the needed width. Alternatively, Leroy Sané could start on one wing, with Sterling on the other. For me though, if David Silva is fit, I’m expecting a midfield five of Sterling, Silva, De Bruyne, Fernandinho and Gundogan. Time will tell, but the options at Pep’s disposal leave our manager with a decision to make.
Greater Challenges to Come
To have won nine games out of nine so far is beyond impressive. We have won games that we failed to win last season, as well as look emphatic on more than one occasion. So, the question remains – can City make it ten out of ten on Saturday? The answer is obviously yes, they can. Whether or not they will, we’ll only know at about 5pm on Saturday. But, what does ten wins really say about our season so far, excluding the obvious. It tells us that the players have picked up on Guardiola’s tactics extraordinarily quickly, a particularly exciting proposition when you consider that things should thing theoretically only become more familiar. There is another question, though, that has still not been asked: how will City fare when they find themselves in a tough spot? So far, City have scored first in every single game they have played, and only once have the opposition scored to actually tie the game – our first league game against Sunderland. Will City struggle when the opposition throw a spanner into the works and make us play from a goal down? It remains to be seen, but you have to imagine that the time is coming where such a scenario will occur. Hopefully though, it’s another comfortable afternoon this weekend in Wales.
Who Can Hurt Us?
For Wednesday’s game against the Swans, my prediction for a potential danger man only played 15 minutes. This time out, I’m backing Gylfi Sigurdsson to be the one to watch for our opposition. A set-piece specialist, as well as a very accomplished attacking midfielder, Sigurdsson is able to pull the strings for this Swansea side. He often looks the standout player in a side that sometimes seems to lack in attacking talent, so City’s defence and midfield will have to be awake to keep him quiet.
My last three predictions have been 4-1, 4-0 and 2-1. Those games have ended 4-0, 4-0 and 2-1 respectively, so I’m doing pretty well on the prediction front. Tomorrow, I’m excepting a strong City side to have too much for Swansea. With the returning Sergio Aguero to throw into the mix, I’m expecting a 3-1 City win.
Predict the score:
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