The major injury news ahead of this fixture is that Fernandinho is back in the squad after shaking-off a knock that has kept him out of our last three games. The Brazilian has been absolutely integral to almost all that City have done well this season, so this news is undoubtedly a major boost for Pellegrini. After suffering a calf strain in the win against Palace, Aleksandar Kolarov is unavailable. Pellegrini though, did suggest that it isn’t a serious tear, estimating that the Serb should start working with the squad again, “at the end of the next week.”
Pellegrini did offer some sort of an update on the perpetual problem that is Vincent Kompany’s calf, stating that, “Vincent is seeing different specialists, and will, I hope, start working next week.” This though, should be taken with a sizeable pinch of salt. It’s best for all involved that we don’t get too overinvested in Kompany’s hypothetical return-date. He needs to do whatever it takes to get himself right, and if that means taking six more weeks out, then so be it.
Bony, Mangala and Nasri are all still out. However, Mangala was pictured training with the squad on Thursday, so can’t be too far away from a return.
Pellegrini’s biggest call ahead of this crucial fixture undoubtedly centres on whether or not he plays Fabian Delph. After his exceptional all-round performance at the weekend and given that Fernandinho is only just returning from injury, you’d expect Delph to start. But things never are so simple when it comes to Manuel Pellegrini’s team selections.
In all honesty, Pellegrini has been relatively conservative in his use of Delph since his return from injury, sometimes employing him on the left of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Not once has Delph been trusted to anchor City’s midfield in a crunch match away from home, and this is undoubtedly of significance. Furthermore, last weekend’s win over Palace was the first time that Delph has completed 90 minutes in the Premier League match this season. Therefore, I think that all the signs point to him having to settle for a place on the bench, come Saturday.
On a personal note, I’d like to see Delph given the opportunity, but I can’t see past the trusted central midfield partnership of Toure and Fernandinho.
In truth, I think the rest of the team pretty much picks itself. Kolarov’s injury means that Clichy is nailed-on to start whilst Zabaleta probably isn’t sharp enough yet to warrant usurping the brilliant Bacary Sagna. There’s a chance Navas could start on the right, I suppose. But given Pellegrini’s caution in his use of Sterling in recent games, I’d expect that front four to start.
All that being said, here is the team I think Pellegrini will go with:
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