Trying to understand a genius’ way of thinking is challenging and so predicting Pep Guardiola’s lineups is never easy. Our last two efforts saw us get 7/11 right for the Shakhtar Donetsk game, and 9/11 for last weekend’s win over Burnley. Not bad efforts, but a way off the 11/11 prediction for the Carabao Cup tie with Oxford United.
On Monday night, City will play on a Wembley pitch currently being battered by NFL action in England, facing Tottenham in what has been a controversially rescheduled fixture impacting fans and potentially, if the pitch isn’t up to scratch, players.
In his pre-match press conference on Friday, Guardiola said “it is what it is” in response to a question about the Wembley pitch and said it’d have no effect on if Kevin De Bruyne, just back from a serious long-term injury, will be selected.
Despite injuries to Delph and Danilo recently, Guardiola insinuated that only Ilkay Gundogan still has a problem while praising Manchester City’s medical staff. He wasn’t clear about that, so either or both could still be out. If they are fit, Guardiola will be leaving some big names off the bench.
Ederson between the sticks. We’ll be writing that for the next decade most likely, unless Aro Muric or another of the young goalkeepers become absolute world-beating phenoms.
As always, it gets tougher after the selection of the Brazilian stopper. John Stones has been deployed on the right lately, a testament to his versatility, but with Kyle Walker replacing Stones off the bench against Shakhtar, marking his return from injury, I’d expect the speedy full-back to start against his former club. On the other side, it’ll be Benjamin Mendy so good luck to Spurs’ full-backs in dealing with those two.
The centre of defence has caught us out both times and is becoming incredibly difficult to pick with Guardiola constantly chopping and changing. Aymeric Laporte is a banker to start we feel, and we will go with John Stones partnering him back in his normal role. Guardiola could opt for Otamendi and it’d be no surprise if we slip up on defensive predictions again!
Fernandinho will as ever be vital anchoring the midfield and is an easy pick, but it’s just ahead of him where it gets tough. Will KDB start? He played 69 minutes against Shakhtar, enough to get more minutes in his legs without overdoing it, so yes, we’re going for Kevin De Bruyne to start in midfield against Spurs. Picking a Silva is incredibly tough – you have David Silva coming off back-to-back Man of the Match performances, but a player Guardiola wants to rest more this season. And Bernardo Silva, an exceptional young player who scored as soon as he came off the bench in Kharkov. So who will it be? We’ve tossed a coin and gone for David Silva.
After having a full rest during the week, Leroy Sané should return on the left-hand side with Raheem Sterling on the other flank, bringing Riyad Mahrez’s run of starts to an end. Mahrez has been good, if wasteful in front of goal, and I’d expect him to be one of the biggest names on the teamsheet against Fulham in the Carabao Cup next week.
Finally, having also been given 90 minutes of rest against Shakhtar, Sergio Aguero will surely lead the line in place of the hard-working but goal-shy Gabriel Jesus. Aguero has 10 goals in 12 Premier League appearances against Tottenham and it’d be madness not to start him.
Making up the subs bench will be Aro Muric, Fabian Delph, Nicolas Otamendi, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus.