Here we are again, searching for a win after another frustrating draw with a mid-table side – this time against Middlesborough. It sounds like an old record, saying that the game was a fluke, but it really wasn’t far from it. We didn’t create a great deal in the second half, but in the first, we were all over them like a rash – I couldn’t believe it wasn’t three or four nil. But hey ho, this is the Premier League and I’m enjoying Pep’s ride.
The good news, genuinely, for the first time this season is that we have a ‘fully fit squad’. The obvious caveats being that Vincent Kompany is of course perennially injured but is confirmed as being ‘fit’, whilst Fabian Delph is back in full training after recovering from his operation in Barcelona.
Bacary Sagna is expected to make his first start in seven weeks at Selhurst Park after recovering from a hamstring injury. Pablo Zabaleta has played a lot of football in recent weeks – and was rushed back to play vs. Barcelona, so after having travelled half-way across the world for Argentina, I fully expect Sagna to start on Saturday.
The main concern for Guardiola, surely, is who’s fit enough after playing for their country and who is a little fatigued? Naturally, I’d imagine that the South American players are those who are most at risk, given the time-travel and the intensity of the games/training. Thankfully though, Aguero only featured once for Argentina (off the bench, for around 45 minutes), Zabaleta only managed one game whilst Otamendi was called-upon for both games.
With Gladbach on Wednesday, Pep may be keen not to over-play his key players, namely Aguero, Fernandinho, Sterling, Stones etc. But after 3 draws at home in a row – can he afford not to play his best players? I’d suggest not. It’s a tricky one, as it often is when selecting a City side, but here’s what I reckon we’ll go for:
With all that in mind, here is how I think City will line up:
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