After the perfect start to the Premier League season last week, Manchester City face a tougher test as they welcome Tottenham Hotspur to the Etihad stadium. Guardiola’s men have won this fixture in the last two seasons, but nothing is a given when Pochettino’s side come to visit. Here’s how we think City will line up on Saturday…
Leroy Sané and Benjamin Mendy are injured and won’t be available for the match. Fernandinho is back for this game, as confirmed by Pep Guardiola in his pre-match press conference ahead of this one.
There’s no reason why Ederson shouldn’t start in goal again, after an impressive double-save against West Ham. He’ll have John Stones and Aymeric Laporte in front of him- although I wouldn’t be shocked to see a certain Argentine general start given his track record of pocketing Kane – but the fullbacks are trickier. While new boys Angeliño and Joao Cancelo give options to Guardiola, I expect Oleksandr Zinchenko and Kyle Walker to keep their places thanks to top performances against the Hammers.
Rodri is going to be integral at the base of the midfield for the next five years or more and, while Fernandinho has given more to the post-takeover era of this club than all but four or five elite players, I think the Spaniard could start at least thirty league games over the season- including this one. Kevin de Bruyne has always taken a sort of savage pleasure in tearing Tottenham to shreds; Guardiola will be hoping the Belgian can pull more strings than a Thunderbirds puppeteer at the weekend. The big change from opening day, if there is one at all, should be Bernardo Silva in for his namesake David. El Mago played well against West Ham but Bernardo’s energy in the middle of the park is just invaluable in games against top teams like Spurs. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t start.
The front three probably won’t change from our first fixture either- all three players were just too good to justify dropping. Raheem Sterling got a hat-trick and Gabriel Jesus bagged the first goal, while Riyad Mahrez ran the show by being directly involved in all five goals. If there are changes they’ll be Bernardo replacing Mahrez or Aguero in for Jesus but both of these would be extremely harsh in my opinion.
That leaves us with the bench, which I think will be nearly identical to last time: Claudio Bravo, new signing Joao Cancelo, Nicolas Otamendi, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho. If the game’s going well, we may get a glimpse of Cancelo- but I doubt he’ll start. Either way, it promises to be a top game in the first proper blockbuster of the league season.
And no, United-Chelsea doesn’t count.
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