The international break is over and Manchester City are back in action at 3 o’clock on Saturday, hosting Sean Dyche’s Burnley who will look to put up a stubborn defensive performance against the champions.
City have been boosted by the returns to training of Kevin De Bruyne, Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy, while summer signing Philippe Sandler is also available though unlikely to play any role yet.
Guardiola sides are always a challenge to pick but let’s have a go shall we?
Joe Hart returns to the Etihad Stadium tomorrow and will receive a warm reaction, but in the City net will be his long-term successor Ederson as always.
At left-back, Pep Guardiola has a real selection dilemma – something he has not been able to say often with two injury prone players in that area – with Mendy, Delph and Zinchenko, who was good prior to the internationals, available. We’re going for Benjamin Mendy to start given Burnley’s defensive style which will mean there is a need to break down their compact defence. At right-back, with Danilo again injured for Brazil, there can only be Kyle Walker.
In the middle, Pep has a full selection to pick from although Vincent Kompany was unused in Belgium’s last international and missed a session training, which could make Pep think twice about using him. Burnley will be compact and with the need to pick them apart, the elegant passing pair of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte are our picks for the middle.
In midfield, Ilkay Gundogan is out with the boss confirming today that he could be out for another couple of weeks, so with that in mind we can only expect Fernandinho – not called up by Brazil – to anchor the midfield. Now for the big question – does Kevin De Bruyne start? Pep has KDB, David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden to pick from for two positions, and despite mumblings of an injury, we have no reason to believe Bernardo is injured. We’re going to say Kevin De Bruyne WILL start after having plenty of time to train with Guardiola while others were away. With him will be David Silva, now retired from international duty and fresh. City are favourites to win the title at the bookies, as betting.org will tell you, and the return of De Bruyne will only cause the odds to shorten further.
Up front, we’re going for Sergio Aguero to lead the line and extend his goal scoring record at City. As always, picking wingers is difficult, but our picks are Riyad Mahrez and Leroy Sané to start, with Sterling saved for Shakhtar on Tuesday after a busy and productive spell with England during the international break.
On the bench, young Aro Muric will serve as back-up goalkeeper with Nicolas Otamendi, Fabian Delph, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus also making up a formidable set of substitutes.