Sunday’s triumph over Sunderland was Manchester City’s fourth consecutive Premier League win, fifth consecutive Premier League away clean sheet, and Willy Caballero’s fifth clean sheet of 2017. Not bad, eh? It’s also important to note that this is our game in hand and a win could move us within 8 points of Chelsea. Not that it really matters though, the league is pretty much theirs already.
As before, there’s no new injury news – which is good news of course. Vincent Kompany has been stepping up his fitness in training this week and could take a place on the bench, but the likelihood is that he won’t, with Otamendi preferred. However, with four games coming-up in the next eleven days, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Kompany start at the Riverside on Sunday.
Pep confirms that there are no fresh injury concerns and that Vincent Kompany has started training "regularly" now.
— City Watch (@City_Watch) March 7, 2017
Little to change (again!)
In all honesty there’s not a great deal for me to say this week. Pep’s stopped tinkering with his line-ups, plain and simple. There’s a number of factors, notably: Sané’s form, Jesus’ injury and Otamendi’s lack of form (meaning Kolarov is not our undisputed first choice left centre-back, which is a bit weird).
As I’ve alluded to though, I don’t expect Pep to make more than a couple of changes. De Bruyne will undoubtedly come back in, probably as a direct replacement for David Silva. Stoke still have a few agricultural players in Whelan and Adam, so we could benefit from some extra muscle in midfield much like on Sunday, with Touré anchoring and Fernandinho slightly ahead. Fernandinho has struggled a little since he’s come back from his suspension, but I thought there were some positive signs from him in the second half at the Stadium of Light.
Yaya can’t play three games in a week (as we know) and with Monaco just around the corner next Wednesday, I expect he’ll get his rest on Sunday vs. Middlesbrough. The rest of the team though pretty much picks itself, maybe with the exception of a rotation at right-back: Zabaleta for Sagna. But my guess would be that Pep will hold-off until the weekend, going for the same back five.
Bearing all that in mind, here’s the team I think Pep will go with: