City welcome Newcastle United to the Etihad tomorrow afternoon and after losing last weekend, the Blues will be keen to get back to winning ways with a real statement of intent about our title ambitions. After almost a full week of recovery, barring injuries, Pep has no reason to not start his strongest eleven as we look to put the fear back into the hearts of the rest of the league.
Here’s how I predict us to line up…
After what might be his weakest performance of the season Ederson will surely return between the sticks to get back to his best.
In the full-back positions, Kyle Walker will start in his regular place on the right looking to provide support down the flank. On the left, Fabian Delph came off injured during the Liverpool game and the news is that he won’t return in time for tomorrow so in his place it could be one of two people to step in. Danilo is most likely to get in ahead of Zinchenko as he appears to be slightly ahead of the Ukrainian in the pecking order with his naturally defensive mindset.
Nicolas Otamendi recently signed a contract extension that will see him stay in Manchester until 2022 and it’s hard to say that it’s not deserved. The General has truly commanded the back line in Kompany’s continued absence and in recent form is currently our most reliable defender. Alongside him will be a man looking to recover his pre-Christmas form and eradicate some sloppy mistakes from his game. That man is John Stones and home against Newcastle will be a good opportunity to do so.
It’s pretty evident who our strongest midfield three is nowadays and providing they’re all fit and available then Fernandinho, David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne will all start. The Brazilian, who renewed his contract today, turns 33 in May and although his performances have seen him become a key player for us this year, it seems we’re looking for replacements soon with Fred and Seri being linked. In front of him last week we really missed David Silva and I really hope that, if he’s ready, he’ll return to the starting line up next to his Belgian brother.
On the wings we’ll be witness to the electrifying pace of Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sané again. Sterling especially will be itching to get back onto the field after a rather absent display at Anfield – he really hates playing there doesn’t he? Leroy will also surely be itching to get playing again after some patchy form in the past few weeks but with David Silva behind him, he’s usually able to deliver the goods.
Up top we’re a little short of choice at the moment. Gabriel Jesus is still injured and so that leaves Sergio Aguero as the only fit senior striker in the squad. Two or three years ago this would hardly have been cause for concern but with his apparent problems with Pep off the field and failure to deliver consistently on it there’s going to be a big microscope on the Argentine’s performance tomorrow and he’ll be looking to replicate what he did last time against the Magpies at the Etihad.