The gruelling international break is finally over, and club football is back to its routine fashion of two games a week much to the delight of football fans worldwide. On the contrary, this is where the job gets harder for managers who have to juggle picking the right sides to win games and giving the right players adequate rests…
Between the sticks should be none other than Ederson, in most circumstances there’d have been no doubts that he’d start but with the news his wife was due to give birth some time this week it had a few asking the question. Luckily for us his son Henrique was born on Wednesday so he can look after the City defence as well.
So far this season the backline has changed every week, but I’m going to take a gamble on it staying the same as the Newcastle game this time round. At left back has to be the assist machine Benjamin Mendy, with 4 to his name already, he simply can’t be dropped regardless of his defensive capabilities. On the other side of the pitch it’s got to be Kyle Walker, I highly doubt we’ll be seeing any 30-yard screamers this time round but his defensively assured performance against Newcastle is enough alone to see him keep his place. The pairing in the middle of those two will be the ever-impressive Aymeric Laporte and the ever-maturing John Stones, despite the physical threat that joint top scorer Mitrovic poses, which you would perhaps favour Kompany in dealing with, their performances together so far deserve to see them maintain their spots and be given a chance against a player like that.
Guardiola’s team selections this season have left the midfield area one filled with ambiguity, you never really know who’s going to be doing a job in there or whether that player will be out wide or at fullback. However, we do have two orthodox midfielders we know Pep favours nine times out of ten, and those are Fernandinho and David Silva, both of whom have enjoyed rests over the international break. The Brazilian certainly looked like he needed one in recent games so hopefully it sees him rekindle his form from last season. I think Bernardo Silva will also join the ensemble, drifting inside as Walker pushes down the right flank, he’s looked far better playing centrally this season than he did playing on the right against Wolves.
Going forward we could see a number of names make the cut, but I think it’ll stay relatively similar. Hugging the left side of the pitch could be one of two players, we have Leroy Sane who’s enjoying life off the pitch with the recent birth of his child, yet on the pitch he’s endured a rather torrid time, and we have Raheem Sterling who’s stalling contract negotiations are making a headline, yet on the pitch he’s just letting his feet do the talking. I suspect the Englishman will get the nod this time round but expect to see Sane feature very soon. The deadly duo upfront will be Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero, with the latter saying this week “it’s the best I’ve felt in years”. The Argentines sharpness combined with the Brazilians movement should be a recipe for goals, hopefully this weekend the dynamic partnership catches fire again.
Making up the numbers on the bench will be Aro Muric. Joined by captain Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi who has yet to make a start this season. Fabian Delph should be there to offer his versatility should he need to fill in. Ilkay Gundogan should be staying on the bench, fellow German Leroy Sane should be returning to it in what City fans can only hope was an anomalous decision by Pep to not include him last time out. Completing the seven will be new boy Riyad Mahrez, who is seemingly in need of time to settle in before showing us what we all know he can do, much like with Sane and Bernardo in seasons gone by.