After a steady and relatively successful season so far, it’s fair to say that the last ten days have been quite difficult to take with derby day league win and European title dreams crushed by the very expectations which led City supporters to dreamland in the first place.
Despite the disappointment of not wrapping up the league title just under a week ago in what would have undeniably been unique and exceptional circumstances, the job remains and the Premier League title still needs to be won.
Following three crushing, consecutive defeats perhaps City could have done with some cannon fodder in order to get back to their very best, shaking such blows out of their system with a much needed, high goal-scoring rout.
Instead it’s Tottenham Hotspur that stand in City’s way but as the old cliché goes, to be the best you need to beat the best. And if City are as strong-willed as they suggest they are via the social media accounts of a determined group of players even after the recent setbacks, one would hope that Pep Guardiola’s side can address the side’s recent slump with a much-needed morale-boosting performance and potential victory over one of their closest Premier League rivals at Wembley.
Despite four games in ten days, you would expect Guardiola to stick with the bulk of the City starting XI that has proven so successful throughout the course of the season. Therefore, expect Ederson, largely untested in the last three games apart from the few chances both Manchester United and Liverpool took in each, to start in goal.
Those in defence in front of Ederson could change however, from the back three that started against Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday. Given its success throughout this season, Guardiola may well revert to a more settled back four with an English pairing of Kyle Walker and Fabian Delph in the full-back positions.
Nicolas Otamendi, despite a largely solid season, could drop to the bench after a few stuttering performances in recent big games with Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte my preferred central defensive pairing.
In midfield, Guardiola may return to using three central midfielders but with Fernandinho ruled out through suspension, Ilkay Gündogan appears the ready-made replacement in defensive midfield. Although both have appeared jaded in the last three games, I would expect Guardiola to squeeze the very last bit of energy out of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva who should adopt their familiar positions as more attacking midfielders in front of Gündogan.
In attack, one would have hoped that Sergio Aguero would have been fit enough to return up-front, but instead Gabriel Jesus will again lead the line for City. Either side, whilst I would stick with Raheem Sterling, I favour a starting position for Bernardo Silva in place of Leroy Sané who has flattered to deceive in recent games with very predictable and underwhelming performances compared to his best form away at Arsenal only a matter of weeks ago.