Manchester City have embarked on a six-match winning run in the Premier League since their 0-0 draw at Anfield in October. One of the most impressive City stats still in play is that they have not lost an away game since the Champions League defeat to Liverpool back in April – that’s 13 matches in all competitions unbeaten on the road.
Tomorrow Pep Guardiola and his Shark Team travel to Vicarage Road for a game against Watford. The Blues won this fixture 6-0 last season with a swashbuckling display, and catch Javi Gracia’s team in a bad patch having not won in four games – losing three of those.
Guardiola made several changes for the win over Bournemouth at the weekend and has the Chelsea game to think about, so again predicting the team is tricky. At this time of year, rotation is a must. But here’s our attempt…
Not much to report here. Asked on Monday about Sergio Aguero and Oleksandr Zinchenko, Guardiola responded that he did not know and it would depend on training. A similar scenario to that of Ilkay, Bernardo and Jesus at the weekend.
Kevin De Bruyne is still not ready and it’s looking unlikely he’ll be back in time to face Chelsea, while Benjamin Mendy and Claudio Bravo won’t play football again until 2019.
Ederson will start in goal, of course. Clean sheets haven’t been as common for the Brazilian lately, with City conceding in three of their last four games, so he wouldn’t mind a shut-out on Tuesday night to boost his Golden Glove hopes.
At the back, expect Kyle Walker to return at right-back after Danilo was handed his first Premier League start of the season against Bournemouth. Zinchenko got his nose smashed up on Saturday, but even if he does make it, Fabian Delph will probably come in with rotation and he’s our pick for left-back.
John Stones was rested against the Cherries which almost certainly means he’ll start when the Blues travel down south. But with who? It’s a tough one as Pep adores Laporte, that’s clear, but may consider resting him. We’re going to guess that will happen, with Nicolas Otamendi starting next to Stones. Alternatively, Kompany is due a game but seems to be the clear fourth choice these days.
Pep recently said they are going to ‘kill’ Fernandinho if they keep playing him. Ferna started against Bournemouth and will start against Chelsea, so we can see him sitting this one out. That’ll probably mean Ilkay Gundogan starting after his weekend goal off the bench, along with a fresh David Silva – a late sub on Saturday – and Bernardo Silva. We’ve given up predicting Foden to get a start outside of the Carabao Cup, so maybe he will!
It’s time for Riyad Mahrez to get a game and we think he will, but at whose expense? We’ll say Sterling, with Leroy Sané on the other flank, behind… Gabriel Jesus! This is all based on Guardiola sounding doubtful about risking Sergio Aguero in this match.
Supposing Kun and Aleks are out of the game, the bench will look something like: Aro Muric, Danilo, Vincent Kompany, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz. Aguero to replace Diaz and Zinchenko in for Kompany if either are available.