Finally, after months of the title being virtually guaranteed Manchester City have been officially crowned the Premier League champions. It didn’t happen in the way many had dreamt it might, but seeing United humiliated at home to the worst team in the league has soothed the disappointment quite nicely.
City head into this weekend not only as champions but off the back of one of their most impressive performances in recent weeks. Spurs were effectively demolished and controlled at Wembley, with the performance reminding everybody exactly why City have stormed to the title this season and look set to break even more records.
This weekend they face Swansea in what is essentially the first of a five game victory parade to celebrate their title win, with Carlos Carvalhal expressing his happiness to form the guard of honour for “the best team in the league”.
Whilst the occasion will be joyous for City fans it will be business as usual for the players. As I alluded to earlier, City are still on track to break records and Pep is well aware of this. In his press conference he stated these records will hopefully motivate the squad to continue playing to a high standard and that he intends to play the strongest team possible to chase these records down. So, with that in mind…
Ederson will start in goal. This is the one position Pep will not tinker with and rightly so.
The defence that sits in front is another question entirely. With almost everyone fit and available Pep has a variety of options at his disposal. Given their impressive performances against Spurs I think that Vincent Kompany and Aymeric Laporte will be paired together again this weekend. Kompany requires a strong passer next to him in order for City’s build up to remain effective – Laporte is exactly that.
The full-back positions should also remain unchanged with Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker reprising their roles from the Spurs game. This combination has served City well all season and with no midweek game to cause any fitness concerns, I imagine both will start.
In midfield City only have one dilemma: the suspension of Fernandinho. The Swansea game will be the last game of his ban so expect Ilkay Gündogan to take his place at the base of City’s midfield trio. Ahead of him I expect both David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne to return; if City want to smash records our two best playmakers will be absolutely essential to that.
On the wings Leroy Sané and Raheem Sterling should again making the starting eleven. I imagine that Swansea will look to sit back, be compact and play for opportunities on the counter. Against teams like this stretching the pitch is essential and in Sané and Sterling City have two of the best in the league at doing exactly that.
Up front there is still no Agüero with Pep stating he will be absent for around 4-5 weeks, meaning he will likely miss the remainder of City’s games this season. Thus, the job falls to Gabriel Jesus to lead the line and with two goals in his last two games he appears to be rediscovering his scoring touch.