Manchester City will be playing host to Newcastle this weekend as they look to bounce back from the somewhat disappointing draw against Wolves. It was a game filled with misfortune and instances when luck just wasn’t in the team’s favour. With a full week of rest and recovery and a clean bill of health (except those with long term injuries), Blues can be hopeful for a return to winning ways.
When it comes to goalkeepers, there can only be one man who starts. Aro M… I mean Ederson. The Brazilian stopper is all but certain to play every game this season, especially with Claudio Bravo being sidelined for the foreseeable future.
Newcastle are likely to sit back and try to contain City, just like we saw them do last season. Whilst I would usually suggest this could see Pep deploy a back three system, the less than convincing performance of Vincent Kompany at Wolves means he will probably stick to his tried and tested 4-3-3. With that said, Kyle Walker should resume his usual duties at right back and Benjamin Mendy doing the same on the left. In the middle there is only one pair of centre backs that should be played: Aymeric Laporte and John Stones. The two young defenders have been exceptional when partnered together and after such a shaky performance last week I would except to see them resume their partnership.
In front of the defence the usual anchor man Fernandinho is almost a guaranteed starter. Despite many bemoaning his performances as of late, I expect Ilkay Gündogan to partner David Silva in midfield. The German has drawn the ire of fans recently with less than exceptional performances and even the scapegoat for some regarding the draw at Wolves. If he fails to deliver against Newcastle it may well open the door for Phil Foden to take some of his minutes moving forward.
City have a plethora of attacking options at their disposal heading into this game, but despite the poor result at Wolves I think changes will be minimal. Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling gave a good account of themselves, both striking the woodwork and playing a part in some of City’s better moments in the game – this should see them both keep their place in the lineup. Bernardo Silva was less than impressive and I think Pep will look to Riyad Mahrez to replace him. The former Leicester player’s ability to beat his man both inside and outside from the right wing was sorely missed against Wolves. Newcastle will look to be similarly compact in the centre of the field and his one on one prowess will be essential when it comes to breaking through their defences.
On the bench Aro Muric will almost definitely play deputy to Ederson in the absence of Bravo. The utility of Fabian Delph and Bernardo Silva will be incredibly useful in changing up the team’s shape mid-game if necessary and so both should find themselves a spot in the match day squad. Pep almost always names two defenders on the bench, so expect to see the names of Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi included. Phil Foden did not make the cut at Wolves but a home match is the perfect environment to give the youngster Premier League minutes should the match already be decided. Finally, Gabriel Jesus should take the last spot on the bench as a potential second striker or direct replacement for Agüero should it be required.