A weird fact for you all – tomorrow’s game will be the first of our three Wednesday evening matches against Everton in, you guessed it, the next three weeks. Our Capital One Cup semi-final commitments will bookend their trip to the Etihad in the Premier League, scheduled for 13th January. With the title race intensifying, and the Champions League knockout fixtures glimmering on the horizon, Manuel Pellegrini will be very aware of the value in establishing a first-leg advantage tomorrow evening.
The only fresh injury news is that Wilfried Bony has suffered “a kick to the calf,” and will subsequently not be available for the match at Goodison. However, Pellegrini quickly downplayed the seriousness of his injury, stating that he expects him to be fit for the FA Cup 3rd round tie with Norwich at the weekend.
The Chilean hinted that Sergio Aguero will start, as the striker needs to “play games in order to recover his best performances,” meaning that Kelechi Iheanacho should return to the bench. Vincent Kompany and Samir Nasri are the still out.
After his absolute horror show at Vicarage Road on Saturday, I would not be at all be surprised to see Aleks Kolarov take-up a place on the bench. The Serbian has shown clear signs of fatigue in recent weeks, and with Gael Clichy finally fit again, I would expect the Frenchman to play (in what will be only his fifth appearance of the season). It is a relatively comparable situation over in the other full-back position, as Pablo Zabaleta is desperate for minutes and Bacary Sagna is in need of a rest. Sagna’s performance against Watford was one of the most complete, all-round performances I’ve seen from a Manchester City full-back in years. He is fully deserving of a match off.
With the return leg at the Etihad to come, I’d expect Pellegrini to display some semblance of caution, and opt for a three man midfield. Fernando is back in full training, and could start after being involved at the weekend for the first time since hobbling-off at the Britannia. Delph is also in the mix, but baring in mind he didn’t make the bench against Watford, I’d guess that this game may come too soon for him to start. Norwich is more likely.
In attack, Sergio Aguero will undoubtedly start. The real question, is who will flank him? David Silva has struggled in recent games, ceding possession uncharacteristically often. He still doesn’t look 100%, so in all honesty, a rest could do his ankle good. Jesus Navas on the other hand, has looked bright during his recent substitute appearances, and will probably play alongside one of De Bruyne or Sterling.
All that being said, here is the team I think Pellegrini will go with:
What do you think City’s team will be? Let us know in the comments below.