What a performance from Manchester City in midweek! When the groups were drawn for this year’s Champions League most would have picked out Napoli away as the one we were destined to lose and Pep’s unrelenting praise of the Naples team this year would have only reinforced that.
Due to City’s success across all competitions so far this season, we find ourselves with a brutal fixture list over the winter period with a game every three days for the rest of the year. Thankfully we have a very strong squad and in certain positions are blessed with quality rotation options. However, this makes predicting a team all the more difficult and with a big game against Arsenal and the international games to follow this isn’t really the right time to give key players a rest.
In net it’s obviously going to be Ederson. The young Brazilian is far and away the first choice keeper now and even the redemption of Claudio Bravo against Wolves last week is not going to be enough to provide him with serious competition for his place.
The difference between John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi this season compared to last is astonishing. It was quite obvious in games last year that either needed the composed figure of Kompany beside them to even perform close to the standard expected of them. Now I can’t even see a fit Vincent Kompany getting into the team. Stones has grown into the ball-playing centre-back of Pep’s dreams and Otamendi has shocked everyone by showing he can initiate attacks with through balls that cut out the opposition’s midfield. This, combined with the fact that they can score – with both getting crucial goals against Napoli – makes them certain to start at the weekend.
Danilo was the surprise start in Naples and the indication of the rotation that we will get used to over these next couple of months. Kyle Walker was given a much needed rest and so it’s expected that he’ll return to the first team against Arsenal and given the difficult task of keeping tabs on Alexis Sanchez who may feel this game is somewhat of an audition, showing what he can add to Europe’s most dangerous attack.
If there was any question about Pep’s ability to transform a player rather than buy a new one then Fabian Delph is living proof. Who’d have thought that he’d be a vital component in Guardiola’s team after his move to Stoke fell through in the summer? No-one. But he’s shown such determination to improve and a long-term injury to Mendy gave him an opportunity that he’s taken and has since become a fan favourite.
On to the midfield and the ever-dependable Fernandinho would be the sensible option to give balance to our midfield against a team likely to try and attack us. In front of him player of the month Kevin De Bruyne is another name that’s permanently etched onto the team sheet after taking his game to a whole other level this season – he is looking like the best midfielder in the world right now. Next to him is a difficult decision as Gundogan has shown he is ready to start critical games and is back to full fitness whilst Silva is the ever dependable option that can help win a game. I think Pep will opt for David Silva at the weekend as the former started against Napoli.
Our wide men are truly untouchable at the moment. Both Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané have been so important in front of goal for us, both scoring and assisting at will. Sterling especially has grown so much under the coach and the myth that ‘he can’t finish’ seems to be long behind him as he only sits behind Harry Kane in Premier League goals this year.
Up top is another prediction that I am probably going to get wrong. Aguero or Jesus? Super Serg made history on Wednesday with his 178th goal for the club, breaking Eric Brook’s long standing record for City. Whilst Jesus was rested and so would be the fresher option of the two to deploy at the weekend. It really could be either, or even both but I’m going to put my money on Sergio Aguero.
Sergio Aguero became Manchester City’s all-time record goalscorer with his goal against Napoli.
The City Store has celebrated his achievement by releasing a new range! Check it out!