Manuel Pellegrini was right in instantly gearing everyone towards Chelsea at the weekend in his post-match interview on Tuesday. We may have secured an unprecedented place in the semi-finals of the Champions League but our place in the competition for next year is absolutely no formality. While it is only a Chelsea team playing for pride and pride alone that stands in our way, our record at Stamford Bridge isn’t the greatest and Manchester United and West Ham lurk just under in the table.
We’re ever so near to fully-fit squad but it is still just not there. Vincent Kompany didn’t make the PSG game and remains unavailable while David Silva’s strange weekly exclusions are becoming a theme. It was interesting to note that Pellegrini suggested that he wouldn’t operate on an ankle which has seriously affected him this season and that instead, it should just be “managed”. This issue isn’t entirely a new thing so it begs the question – if it hasn’t already been operated on then how long does it need to be “managed” for? For the foreseeable future at the very least, I suspect.
Elsewhere, Raheem Sterling is way ahead of schedule and could possibly make the Newcastle match in a few days. He’s going to be a huge boost, especially in Europe.
A formality of a selection
With David Silva and Vincent Kompany out, Raheem Sterling still recovering, I think the team really picks itself. Kevin De Bruyne should start against his former club and be flanked by Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas. I imagine Nasri, who cannot be resubmitted into our Champions League squad, will be a certainty for every league game as we progress deeper into our European adventure.
Late substitute Yaya Toure should get his first start in a month and should line-up alongside Fernandinho. I think we can also expect the same back four that played against Paris Saint Germain with man of the moment Eliaquim Mangala paired with Otamendi and Sagna preferred to Zabaleta for his defensive prowess. Unlikely Player of the Month Gael Clichy, who may have just saved his Manchester City career, should play ahead of Aleks Kolarov while Martin Demichelis will be avoided at all costs.
Fabian Delph will be looking to get some minutes as he looks to stake a claim in the England squad but I think he’ll be overlooked for a starting berth here. There are loads of injuries and uncertainties around the England squad at the moment and he’ll be desperate to impress on the pitch. Kelechi, who’s been deprived of any sort of action for a month now, will also have to wait for a start.
With that said, here’s the team I think Manuel Pellegrini will go with.
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