Manchester City will face Swansea at the Liberty Stadium for the second time in a week, after Pep Guardiola’s men knocked The Swans out of the EFL Cup on Wednesday night. Guardiola made nine changes from the team that won against Bournemouth last Saturday, and is expected to bring the majority of those that missed out back into the starting line up.
Willy Caballero started Wednesday’s game, and while his shot-stopping was very good, his distribution was incredibly poor. The performance highlighted the importance of Claudio Bravo’s role in Guardiola’s system and it would be a massive surprise if he wasn’t named in the starting XI for Saturday’s game.
The full-backs were rotated on Wednesday night, as Pablo Zabaleta and Gael Clichy replaced Bacary Sagna and Aleks Kolarov respectively. Both of them played well, with Clichy in particular giving the manager something to think about, as he added the opening goal to an impressive individual performance. Unfortunately for Gael, the brilliant form of Kolarov is making it very hard for him to reclaim his place in the starting XI, and so the Serbian is expected to come back into the side on Saturday, as is Bacary Sagna.
One man who could retain his place on Saturday is John Stones. Stones was only a second half substitute in last week’s win over Bournemouth, and played the full 90 on Wednesday night. Prior to these games, Stones had started every match since he joined the club from Everton, and I fully expect him to start once again at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. His centre-back partner on the night, Vincent Kompany, will not be so lucky. Kompany sustained yet another injury, and while no official diagnosis has been revealed, there is little chance that the Belgian will start on Saturday, and should be replaced by Nicolas Otamendi.
Fernandinho was given a much-needed and much-deserved rest on Wednesday, but should return to the starting line-up in place of Fernando. ‘The Octopus’ was very good on Wednesday considering he was returning from injury, but it is unlikely that he will start on Saturday, especially in place of such an important player like Fernandinho.
Kevin De Bruyne was a second-half substitute on Wednesday, and is expected to return to the centre of midfield from the off on Saturday, replacing Angeliño, who didn’t exactly take his chance. In contrast, Aleix Garcia rose to the occasion, turning in a fantastic performance which resulted in him scoring the winning goal for City. However, with Ilkay Gundogan and David Silva waiting in the wings, the young Spaniard may have to wait for his next chance to impress from the start.
Nolito served the first game of his three match ban on Wednesday, and so Leroy Sané is expected to deputise once again. Jesus Navas played well against Swansea, but Raheem Sterling should return to the starting line-up in his place. Finally, Sergio Aguero has completed his suspension and will be available for Saturday’s game. Kelechi Iheanacho has impressed in his absence, scoring the winning goal in the Manchester derby, and playing a key part in last week’s win over Bournemouth. Unfortunately for Kelechi, it is hard to see him starting ahead of Aguero, and so I expect the Argentine to return to the side on Saturday.
So here it is, my team prediction for this weekend’s fixture:
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