Wednesday night – a timely reminder to all Manchester City fans that we can actually play some pretty decent football. Recent defeats to Leicester and Tottenham at the Etihad had understandably left fans questioning the team’s mentality and the manager’s credentials. Yet, the changeable nature of football is such that after a comprehensive performance in midweek we’re all now feeling slightly optimistic ahead of today’s Wembley final.
However, despite that renewed sense of optimism, I think I speak on behalf of most City fans when I say that the thought of Willy Caballero in goal drains-away some of that good feeling. His performance at Stamford Bridge last week was hand-on-heart one of the worst individual showings I’ve seen from a City player. He was dreadful. But Pellegrini has already confirmed that the shirt is his for the cup final, so we may as well just leave that one there.
The other big team news is as follows, confirmed by Pellegrini in his press conference on Friday:
“Sagna, Kompany and Sterling are recovering separately after the game but I hope the three of them will be fit.”
“Mangala, Navas and Bony are training normally and are available for selection.”
This injury news means Pellegrini has his full compliment of defenders to pick from for the first time in well, god knows how long. Personally, I’d play exactly the same back four as we did in Kiev; they operated extremely well as a unit. My preference would be for the more defensive-minded pair of Sagna and Clichy, but Pellegrini has a penchant for rotating his full-backs, so I’d expect both Zabaleta and Kolarov to come-in, unfortunately.
Fernando’s excellent performance midweek coupled with the fact that Jesus Navas has only just returned from injury means that the Brazilian should retain his place in midfield, and rightly so. One of the main reasons behind the 1-4 dismantling were suffered earlier this season was our lack of structure and discipline in midfield, so Fernando is an absolute must for me, particularly given the size of the Wembley pitch.
Last of all, Raheem Sterling. I think he’s had a brilliant start to his Manchester City career thus far. He’s an incredibly mature footballer for 21. The criticism he has received from opposition fans this season has been wildly unjust – he made the right decision, plain and simple. So wouldn’t it be lovely to see him stuff it right up Liverpool this afternoon? Come on City.
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!
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