It’s still early days in the Premier League season but as pundits begin to call it a straight fight between both Manchester clubs for the title, for Pep Guardiola it’s just about getting three points on the board and focusing solely on City’s results. The club’s next challenge is a visit from Crystal Palace and a newly appointed Roy Hodgson who will surely be looking, against all odds; to salvage something from tomorrow’s game after such a torrid time of late. On the flip side, fifteen goals scored, two goals conceded and first position in the league, albeit alphabetically, certainly make for a fantastic start to the season.
Mirroring such fantastic away form at the Etihad itself could yet prove to be more difficult than one would expect however after City’s midweek fight back against West Brom in the Carabao Cup and with a return to Champions League football on the horizon next week.
After being rested for Tuesday night’s game, you would expect that Ederson will return to Guardiola’s first team and complete his comeback, going full circle after being stretchered off in City’s last game at the Etihad after ‘that’ high foot.
In front of the Brazilian, after a rare appearance from Eliaquim Mangala in defence during midweek, Pep Guardiola will most probably return to the defensive line which has worked so well this season. Instead of a back three of central defenders with two of the club’s three full-back’s in wide positions, I suspect Pep may opt for a back four with Danilo dropping to the bench.
With Kyle Walker on the right and Benjamin Mendy on the left, Nicolas Otamendi will more than likely partner John Stones in the heart of the City defence as Vincent Kompany nears return from injury and builds up match fitness ahead of a potential return to action against Shakhtar Donetsk this upcoming Tuesday.
In what I think will form a three man midfield, Fernandinho should return at defensive midfield sitting just in front of City’s back four with the in-form duo of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne as making up the rest of the midfield. With a license to roam forward and find space between Crystal Palace’s expected defensive lines, both have the potential to assert their influence on the game behind what looks likely to be a front three in a 4-3-3 formation.
With Sergio Aguero almost definitely starting tomorrow’s game after being rested on Tuesday night, the question remains as just who will partner the centre forward on each wing? With Gabriel Jesus’ recent form making it very difficult for him to drop him, Jesus may start the game on the left wing with the option to partner Aguero in a two up top should City change shape mid-game.
Meanwhile on the right-wing, who can possibly deny Leroy Sané of a much deserved starting position in tomorrow’s game? His recent goals and game winning performance against West Brom should therefore, in my opinion be rewarded with a start on the right of a three man attack.