Huddersfield Town haven’t been an easy opponent by any stretch for Manchester City in recent years. In fact, the Terriers have kept a clean sheet in half of their meetings with the Citizens since Pep Guardiola arrived two years ago – so Bernardo Silva and co. will have to be at their best to get a crucial three points at the Etihad on Sunday. But who will line up for the home side?
As you’ve probably heard by now, Kevin De Bruyne is out injured for up to three months after damaging his lateral collateral ligament in training. Danilo is also not ready to play despite being close to a return. However, David Silva has been training and is in contention to start.
Even at this early stage I see no reason to pretend that Ederson won’t walk into the starting XI. The Brazilian wasn’t particularly busy against Arsenal, but will be looking to avoid any of the sloppy passes that crept into his game late on at the Emirates.
Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy will both start – I’d bet my dog on it. Mendy, who created both goals at the Emirates, needs to tighten up in possession and a Huddersfield side who won’t want the ball should give him ample opportunity to practice. In the middle, even with the presence of the imperious Vincent Kompany and the much-improved Nicolas Otamendi, I’m backing John Stones and Aymeric Laporte to continue their partnership against David Wagner’s side. If given time, these two could become City’s established first-choice pairing for seven or eight seasons.
Fernandinho waltzes quite easily into the team, but who to start ahead of him? This is probably Pep’s biggest dilemma ahead of the match. You’d expect Bernardo Silva to get another start, given his sensational start to the season, but will it be out wide or in the middle? Given the injury to De Bruyne, I’m going with the latter. He’ll probably be paired with Ilkay Gundogan once more, as David Silva keeps rebuilding his fitness.
The front three might spring a surprise or two. Raheem Sterling is the first forward on the teamsheet, which only serves to further ridicule those who bemoan his supposed lack of ability, but I’m going to predict Gabriel Jesus to start up front instead of Aguero. Sergio wasn’t at his best against Arsenal and fluffed what should’ve been an easy chance to either score the second goal or pass to De Bruyne for a tap-in. Riyad Mahrez – it still feels a bit surreal writing his name on my team selections – will line up on the right once more.
On the bench, then, I’d expect to see something like this: Claudio Bravo, Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, Phil Foden, David Silva, Leroy Sané, Sergio Aguero. This would be harsh on Fabian Delph and Oleks Zinchenko but at least it would give Foden a chance to make another appearance should the game be going well for City – or, at this stage in his career, he may even be trusted to change the game if it’s going badly. We’ll have to wait and see…