Pep Guardiola could become the quickest Premier League manager to reach a century of victories on Friday, as his Manchester City side travel down the M6 to face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux – a ground in which the Blues have only managed two wins in their last five visits…
Manchester City will remain without England defender John Stones and club captain David Silva, in what will be their first of two games in less than 72 hours for the Champions. Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sané both remain out through ligament injuries, but the pair are expected to return sometime early on in the New Year.
Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolves will be without Morgan Gibbs-White, Bruno Jordao and Willy Boly, who controversially opened the scoring in this fixture last season.
Manchester City come into the game off the back of an emphatic win against Leicester City last Saturday, where a destructive Kevin De Bruyne starred once again. The Belgian has been actively involved in 16 goals already this season and is in red hot form. The Blues are unbeaten in four of their last five league games and are the league’s top scorers with 50 goals from 18 games.
Wolves sit in a very respectable 8th place, and just five points off a top four spot as well as having successfully qualified for the knock-out stages of the Europa League in the first-half of the season. They have, like Manchester City, lost only one of their last five league games with their defeat coming against Spurs. Espírito Santo’s side have only lost three times this campaign and haven’t lost back-to-back home games for a year!
Head To Head
Wolves could beat Manchester City home and away for the first time since the 1960/61 season on Friday night, after Adama Traore scored twice to stun Pep Guardiola’s side back in October. The two teams will meet for the 121st time and City have only won 48 of those games. There have been 27 draws and 47 defeats for City against Wolves, with an average of 1.9 goals a game.
When the two sides met back in October, Wolves were able to frustrate City with a 3-5-2 set up, which at times became a 6-3-1 formation. The blistering pace of Traore caused the City defence a real nightmare that day and although he played on the right of the midfield, it is likely he will be part of a front three in a 3-4-3 formation. This formation could give Wolves the ability to unleash the likes of Traore, Jota and Jimenez, while having stability and strength in the midfield and defence.
You would expect the usual 4-3-3 style from Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, however the recent tweak in the positioning of Kevin De Bruyne in the midfield has proven extremely successful, so we could see City move back to the 4-2-3-1 formation used at the Emirates a couple of weeks back, with De Bruyne playing in what is essentially a number nine role.
Martin Atkinson will be in charge of Friday night’s meeting between Wolves and Manchester City. The select group one official took charge of this same fixture last season which ended in a 1-1 draw. Atkinson will be joined by assistants Lee Betts and Constantine Hatzidakis while Andre Marriner will be the fourth official. David Coote is to be overseeing matters from Stockley Park where he will be joined by Andy Halliday at the VAR hub.
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