We’re three games past the international break and Manchester City seem to be in cruise control as they’ve picked up six points in the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 2013. Though there have been some knocks, the Blues really haven’t had to get out of second gear as they made swift work of Fulham, Cardiff and Brighton courtesy of several clinial first half performances.
Now though, we begin a horror schedule in which we face our next opponents Tottenham Hotspur three times in twelve days. The first of these is under the lights at the new White Hart Lane in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Finals.
Pep Guardiola confirmed in his press conference that key talisman Sergio Agüero returned to training on Monday and is “feeling much, much better”.
The other issues are concerning Oleksandr Zinchenko and Claudio Bravo, who both remain side-lined. Even with Agüero’s fitness being Pep’s main concern, other selection headaches will be floating around for such a huge clash. Particularly with the news that Kyle Walker “feels better” after straining his hamstring/ploughing his face into Brighton’s Alireza Jahanbakhsh on Sunday, and likewise Benjamin Mendy having “recovered well”, City are in unfamiliar territory when it comes to putting faith in their full backs.
CITY XTRA LINE-UP PREDICTION:
We’re bound to start with Ederson in goal, who will be a lot busier than he has been for the past few weeks. In defence, Kyle Walker will have a point to prove not just against his former club, but to Pep after his moment of madness against Brighton on Saturday. Aymeric Laporte continues to be an ever-present in the middle and I think John Stones will partner him as composure playing out from the back will be crucial with Spurs high press.
Now, the left back spot is a difficult one. It was great to see Benjamin Mendy back and get a good 80 minutes under his belt on Saturday, despite his rusty performance. But I do think Pep will not risk Mendy playing games three days after one another and with Danilo never really disappointing when he plays, I think he’ll get the nod.
Moving into midfield, Fernandinho will return to his number 6 role after a short rest for 65 minutes on Saturday and is a major boost to our hopes of maintaining an advantage in the tie. It’s so great to see Kevin De Bruyne back to his best in a City shirt and he loves a big performance against Spurs. I also think Pep may drop ‘El Mago’ for this one and move Bernardo Silva next to KDB in the middle.
Up front, Raheem Sterling will once again want to shine on the world stage and will operate on the right after a few games over on the left. And with me predicting Bernardo Silva coming centrally, I think our German wonderkid Leroy Sané will start on the opposite wing and use his terrifying pace to trouble Trippier. Then, with the brilliant news of our Argentine being back, Sergio Agüero will lead the line in the hope of another magical Champions League performance.
City Bench: Aro Muric, Benjamin Mendy, Nicolas Otamendi, Ilkay Gündogan, Gabriel Jesus, David Silva and Riyad Mahrez.
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