Manchester City face an away trip to the King Power Stadium to face Leicester in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening. Although the EFL Cup is often the most sneered upon trophy for an English team to win, it presents Pep with a very good opportunity to win his first for the club and having beaten six of the other seven teams already this season, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t set out to win.
Here’s how I predict the Blues to line up…
Given the fact that an integral part of our game plan lies with our keeper and his quick ability of his line makes me think that Ederson will be given the start ahead of Bravo. Likely to be facing the pacey Jamie Vardy – or even Kelechi Iheanacho – the Brazilian’s bravery to stray outside his box will be useful when dealing with the long balls over the top.
Danilo would be my option at right-back. He’s not been given much time on the pitch this season as Kyle Walker has been in good form and is our preferred option in the position. Having said that, when he’s called upon, Danilo has proved to be a useful alternative and for the sake of rotation will likely get the nod above Walker. On the other flank I think Oleksandr Zinchenko will get given a start. The Ukrainian started against the previous fixture in the competition against Wolves and has since been given a few substitute appearances at left-back. With the fixture list getting really congested in the next couple of weeks, it might be too much of a risk to play Fabian Delph – especially with his injury history over the last two years.
Partnering in the middle I think we’ll see our strongest available partnership: Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala. The other name in contention is Tosin Adarabioyo but it’s obvious that Pep prefers Big Quim at the back and I think that changing the entire defence would be as good as throwing the game against what is likely to be a full strength Leicester side.
In the middle I think will be the clearest testament as to how seriously Guardiola takes this game. Fernandinho is a booking away from a suspension and is one of our key players in the system that we currently play. As well as that he has no real viable replacement. Yaya Touré is probably the closest player we have to an alternative but it’s clear that his legs have long since deserted him and it’s getting painful watching how slow he is on and with the ball in recent games. I think if Pep’s going for the win then Ferna has to start.
In front of him I think that Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan will be reunited after the Spurs game. Both performed fantastically and would be vital in our attempt to reach the semi-finals of the competition and with David Silva still potentially out because of ‘personal reasons’ it’s unlikely that he will be in the squad come Tuesday.
Out wide is where we have some good alternatives and hopefully they will be utilized in midweek. Bernardo Silva hasn’t quite recreated his form from Monaco last season but has shown signs of improvement in the last week, managing to get a couple of assists and perhaps that’s enough to gain himself a start facing the Foxes. On the other flank is where it could get interesting. Quite a few of our forward players could potentially play there and although Leroy Sané has made it his own, this would be a good time to give him a rest and maybe try someone else out there. It really could be a number of players but after his display in Ukraine the other week I think that we could see Brahim Diaz handed a start. In our only loss of the season, the little Spaniard was perhaps our best player even though he only played 20 minutes he managed to successfully take on 8 players, more than any player on the pitch.
Although he missed a penalty at the weekend I think we’ll see Gabriel Jesus up front. It emerged after the weekend game that Aguero has apparently been playing with some discomfort in his ankle for the last 3 months that could be the explanation for some of his performances. Not only would this be a good chance to give the Argentine a bit of a rest but also to give Jesus a chance to pick up some form.
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