Guardiola’s Balancing Act – Predicted XI for Newport County vs Manchester City (FA Cup)

After a rare midweek break for the Blues, it’s back to one of three cup competitions in a little more than a week, starting with the away trip to League Two Newport County for the 5th round of the FA Cup.

In his press conference, Pep Guardiola confirmed that Vincent Kompany and Benjamin Mendy continue to be the only absentees from the squad, with everyone else fit and firing.

With the pitch at Rodney Parade being talked about a lot pre-match, Guardiola will want to protect his players for the upcoming tough fixtures in the other three competitions City are still involved in.

In goal, Guardiola has stuck with Ederson for the FA Cup fixtures and will likely continue to do so. In front of him, I expect Danilo to play at right back with John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi alongside with Fabian Delph occupying the left back spot and bringing in some English toughness to the team.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Nicolas Otamendi of Manchester City looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton FC at Etihad Stadium on December 15, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Philippe Sandler is a natural center-back but he has played in the defensive midfield position and Guardiola has hinted that he could be an option so this would a good opportunity to try him there. Partnering him in midfield, Phil Foden and Oleksandr Zinchenko would be an interesting proposition, a combination of young attacking midfielders, also rewarding Zinchenko for his excellent showing against Chelsea where he got himself 2 assists.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 26: Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City looks on during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

This would be a good opportunity for Riyad Mahrez to get some minutes and impress and try to force his way back into contention. Gabriel Jesus would also be raring to have a go after having a really prolific January. Leroy Sane on the left flank would complete a really strong front 3, good enough to provide enough firepower to win the match.

Bench: Aro Muric, David Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Bernardo Silva, Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero.

A good mixture of experience to win the match if needed and youngsters who can be given a chance if City are coasting.

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