With Manchester City progressing to the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday; they can secure their place in the third consecutive Carabao Cup final by beating Manchester United just three days later.
With the Premier League trophy being fitted with red ribbons as we speak, all the talk is of City needing to “focus on the cups”. That being said, City go into this game with a two-goal advantage from the first leg.
With a big game away to Spurs coming up this weekend, should we expect Pep Guardiola to field the strongest side he has available?
As confirmed by Pep Guardiola in his press conference; only Aymeric Laporte is a ‘doubt’ for this match. That means there’s the potential for the long-awaited return of Leroy Sané. I wouldn’t count on it, though. The young German has only just resumed training with the first team, so it will likely take a couple of weeks before we see him in a starting line-up.
Claudio Bravo should retain his place in the side being the preferred goalkeeper for cup games. With a two-goal advantage, it’s likely that City’s priority will be to strangle United’s goal threat, like they did in the first leg, and play three at the back while out of possession. I’d go with Fernandinho and John Stones as the leading pair to start, with Rodri dropping back from midfield to provide cover. To give City more width in attack, as well as defence, we could see Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy at full-back.
Kevin De Bruyne seems nailed on to start after being rested over the weekend; but City will need someone to help out with the press. Bernardo Silva feels like the likely candidate, but I’m going to say Phil Foden should take the role. It’s a more natural position for him, and with City having both the home and goal advantage, it would send a positive message to have a local lad in the side for the derby.
With the full-backs providing width, it’s likely we’ll see Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling in the forward line. After missing out in the first leg at Old Trafford, Gabriel Jesus should be the chosen front man, after bagging a few goals at the weekend. A couple more here would see his confidence soar, which is just what City need to keep things competitive up front.
Substitutes: Ederson, Otamendi, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Silva, Bernardo, Aguero.
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