After 4 home games, City’s first away game of 2019 is against managerless Huddersfield Town.
Huddersfield Town have been disappointing this season after their miraculous survival last season and the chance of another escape doesn’t seem too likely with them 3 points adrift at the bottom of the table behind Fulham. Their last win came all the way back in November and since then, their only clean sheet was in their previous match, the goalless draw away to Cardiff.
On paper, the match seems like a fairly straightforward one and City should really be getting 3 points without too much of a problem. David Wagner, Huddersfield’s hero of the past 2 seasons is no longer their coach and it will be up to Mark Hudson, who was temporarily promoted from his U-23 coaching job to lift the stadium.
Hudson spoke about how he wants his team to be against City, “Full of intent. Aggressive. Work hard for each other. Our real togetherness is something I really believe in. You can’t get any result without being really together, and everyone has to work as hard as they can for each other throughout the team.”
Abdelhamid Sabiri, Tommy Smith and Aaron Mooy are all currently injured, with skipper Tommy Smith a possibility to return be on to be on the bench for the game.
Huddersfield have been the lowest scorers in the league this season, scoring only 13 in 22 matches, conceding 37. However, one of those goals was against City at the Etihad even though they ended up losing the game 6-1. The goal was scored from a long throw-in and City have been susceptible to losing out to the Terriers on set pieces. Even last season, City conceded an own goal from a corner and had to fight back from a goal down with Raheem Sterling’s late heroics getting all 3 points for City. This is surely something Guardiola will have worked on this week and he will be keen to build on City’s first Premier League clean sheet after 8 matches against Wolves on Monday.
City have been rotating players a lot recently, with cup games against lower league opposition giving Guardiola an opportunity to rest players like Fernandinho. However, I expect City’s midfield lynchpin to start on Sunday and he can against put his legs up for the midweek match against Burton. Kevin de Bruyne should start and get some much-needed game time and should be allowed to reacquaint himself with his midfield partner David Silva. In defense, this seems like a good game to use the aerial duel winning ability of Otamendi and Laporte. Kyle Walker should start at right back and Fabian Delph should be allowed a chance to prove himself worthy of the left back spot, allowing Danilo, who has filled in well recently, a rest. Up front, Mahrez should be given another game and also Aguero should start again for the first time since Liverpool. Sterling and Sane have been in great form lately and the sight of either one of them on the team sheet to play on the left wing will not be a welcome one for right back Hadergjonaj.
I expect City to dominate the ball in this one with Wolves sitting back, soaking up Manchester City’s pressure and aiming to hit them from set pieces or quick transitions. City have recently rediscovered their knack of scoring early goals, making the opponents open up to try and get back in the game and getting punished even more. Huddersfield will try to keep the game goalless as long as possible and it will be down to the attacking players to discover a way through a disciplined and committed defense which is a job that they are certainly capable of. I’m predicting that City give a good account of themselves with a 0-4 victory and Mahrez getting on the score sheet.
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