League leaders Manchester City face another exciting midweek trip abroad on Wednesday night when they face struggling Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium in the Premier League.
Well, it’s not quite Naples, but hey, at least it’ll be warmer than Ukraine. Pep Guardiola’s side are eleven points clear at the top of the Premier League after the recent derby victory over Manchester United, but the defensively solid Swans will have a good chance of bringing their northern counterparts down to earth.
Injuries to Benjamin Mendy (long-term), Vincent Kompany and John Stones leave Pep Guardiola a little thin on the ground in defensive options, but everyone else appears to be available. Fernandinho will receive a one-match suspension if he’s booked in this game.
Ederson, one of the derby-day heroes, is a certain starter in goal. The Brazilian enjoyed his finest moment in a City shirt so far on Sunday when he poured milk over an angry man named Jose.
Kyle Walker is my pick to line up at right-back, paralleled by Fabian Delph. Both had a nice rest in the Shakhtar Donetsk fixture last week so should be OK to keep playing until the next Carabao Cup fixture. In the middle, Nicolas Otamendi – gradually turning into one of City’s best performers this season – will be looking to grab his sixth goal of the season against the Swans, while I suspect Eliaquim Mangala did enough against United to earn Pep’s trust in the absence of both Kompany and Stones.
Ahead of him, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fernandinho rested. The midfielder is, after all, one booking from a suspension and we really need him for the match against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend. With that in mind, I predict that Ilkay Gundogan – who also made a substitute appearance in the derby – will start against the Swans. Gundogan lacks the physicality of Fernandinho, but seemed to fare well in the role against United and will find Swansea equally blunt going forward. He’ll have Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva for company, the two most creative players in the Premier League who are both beginning to add more goals to their game this season; Silva has netted twice in his last two appearances and De Bruyne recently scored his fifth of the season against Southampton.
The front three is, as usual, the hardest to predict. None of the six options available are guaranteed to start in my opinion, and many could do with a rest. I would suggest Sergio Aguero is the most likely central striker, as he didn’t play at all on Sunday. To his right, top scorer Raheem Sterling will probably beat Bernardo Silva, while I have a feeling Gabriel Jesus will play ahead of Leroy Sané on the left. The German has looked very out of sorts in recent weeks.
As for the bench, I would assume Claudio Bravo, Danilo, Leroy Sané, Bernardo Silva and Fernandinho are certainties. I’d back Oleksandr Zinchenko and Brahim Diaz to join them.