We’re right in the middle of the winter period and that means another game is merely a few days away. Next up, the unbeaten Blues will play host to Southampton on Wednesday night and the players at Pep’s disposal will make them a clear favourite for the tie. The Saints sit bang in the middle of the table and are fresh off the back of a 4-1 victory against the only team to take points off us so far – Everton – and will be giving their all to take some points back to the South coast.
After a tough trip to face the Terriers at the weekend, here’s how I predict City to line up.
Barring any last minute injury ahead of the game it’s obviously going to be Ederson. He’s cemented himself as our first choice keeper with his distinctive quality and composure on the ball and will rightly start between the sticks on Wednesday night.
After Ederson though is when things become less clear. I’m seeing this game as a good chance to rest a couple of key players who could really do with it to try and avoid another injury similar to Stones’. This is why I think we’ll see Danilo start this one. Kyle Walker has played the full 90 minutes for our last five games in a row, including the Feyenoord game in which many were given a bit of a rest. On the other flank of defence I think it will be that man Delph again. He did struggle a bit at the weekend but will surely be given a chance to immediately put in another strong performance.
The centre-back partnership is looking like it’s going to be Kompany and Otamendi again with the latter seeming to be one of the first names on the team sheet recently after a string of solid performances and the most successful passes completed in the league. I’d have been cautious about selecting Kompany two games in a row with only a couple of days between them but due to reasons of necessity and the fact he didn’t feature for the full 90’ on Sunday makes me think he’ll return.
Playing the pivote role in midfield I think we’ll see a bit of rotation again and Gundogan given a chance to start. At the mature footballing age of 32, Fernandinho doesn’t quite have the legs anymore to be performing at his very best multiple times a week, especially in a system that demands so much from its players physically. We’ve become very reliant on the role the Brazilian performs for us and so it would be relieving to see Gundogan do it just as well, and this could be an opportunity to do so. Ahead of him it’s looking like it will be De Bruyne and David Silva again, a duo which can take us to great levels when they perform to their full capability.
Our wingers have been key to our successes so far and both Sterling and Sané are absolutely electrifying on their day. Perhaps what’s most exciting is that ‘their days’ are getting closer and closer to ‘every day’ as they continue to add consistency to their performances. Sterling is the club’s top scorer this season and it couldn’t be more justified as he’s taken his game to the fringes of the realm of world class and all it’s going to take is some consistency for the rest of the season to cement his place in it.
Up top is where I predict we’ll see another change from the weekend. Gabriel Jesus will surely be given a chance to add to his goal tally after Aguero had a rather quiet game at the John Smith’s Stadium. Luckily for City though, a quiet game for Aguero still resulted in him scoring a penalty that helped us win the game. We are seriously blessed with some immense talent in the squad – as well as the academy – and this luxury will be key in our performances over the Christmas period as we’re forced to utilize all the senior players in our squad.