There’s no point beating around the bush, this is an extremely difficult team to predict. Tuesday’s game with PSG will no doubt be weighing heavily upon the mind of the departing Manuel Pellegrini – as his side have a real chance of making history by advancing to the semi-finals of the European Cup. Personally, I still think it is absolutely imperative that we secure that fourth league spot, and that of course starts with today’s game against West Brom. However, I think it’s understandable that the club will have one eye on Tuesday’s fixture, and that’s why I think today’s game provides us with the perfect opportunity to shuffle the pack. Predicting who will and won’t start though, well, that’s anybody’s guess.
Pellegrini confirmed in his press conference on Friday that David Silva is not in the squad to face West Brom as he can’t play three matches in a week because of his ankle trouble. Silva has looked a lot closer to his best in our last two matches though, so I’d suggest that this is merely a precautionary step. Don’t be surprised to see him named in the squad on Tuesday night. The good news though, is that Yaya Toure has recovered from his knee niggle and will definitely be involved.
Pellegrini: “Yaya started working with the squad yesterday – he has recovered from his knee injury. He is in the squad list. We will see tomorrow whether he’ll start or play some minutes.”
The other injury news is that Vincent Kompany is close to return and is pushing for a start against PSG. He has been training outside with the ball but has not yet rejoined the team in full training. Raheem Sterling has started running again too, but “needs a couple of weeks more.” It’s been an extremely long time since we’ve had a fully-fit squad, but it seems like we’re almost there.
As for Saturday’s team selection, I think it’s pretty obvious that Samir Nasri will be handed his first start in seven months. His omission from the Champions League squad coupled with Silva’s absence and De Bruyne’s recent return from injury mean that this is an ideal time for the Frenchman to get to some game time.
Pellegrini confirms that Nasri is likely to start tomorrow.
"Samir Nasri is in the squad list and he will probably start."
— City Watch (@City_Watch) April 8, 2016
Kolarov and Zabaleta will undoubtedly come-in for Sagna and Clichy, who have both been excellent for some time now and are evidently Pellegrini’s preferred pair for those tight European fixtures. Fabian Delph is another who should expect to benefit from rotation, replacing the indefatigable Fernandinho who amazingly, has played 96% of all minutes that he’s been available for this season. He will be absolutely crucial to advancing to the semi-finals on Tuesday night, so I think it would be foolish not to rest him.
The real question concerns who will partner Delph, whether it’s Toure or Fernando? My guess is that it’ll be Toure. I think that Pellegrini will go for a 4-4-2, with Delph and Toure holding, Navas and Nasri on the wings and Kelechi and Bony in attack. There’s an argument for starting Aguero – in the hope that he’ll be able to kick-start his goal-scoring form again against one of the division’s weaker sides. But I think caution will prevail, and he, like Kevin De Bruyne will both be named on the substitutes bench.
Bearing all that in mind, here is the team I think Pellegrini will go with:
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