Manchester City return to Premier League action this Saturday against Burnley following a comfortable victory over Olympiacos in the Champions League.
Pep Guardiola and his side will look to emulate some of the aggressive and dynamic football on display in midweek to their league form. City finally had a fully fit squad in training this week, as Nathan Aké returned to the sessions after suffering a muscle injury for Holland during the international break.
With that in mind, lets run through our predicted team for this Saturday…
Ederson. Of course, as usual, the Brazilian maintains his spot in between the sticks. He has made a few glaring errors this season, but after an exceedingly quiet evening in midweek, we can only hope that another quiet afternoon is in store for Manchester City’s number 31 on Saturday afternoon.
At right-back, we would assume Kyle Walker would reclaim his spot in the starting XI after being left out of the travelling squad that jetted to Greece. Guardiola has relied heavily on the rapid defender over the past 18 months, and hopefully his short break will help the England international be fully fit and focused for the congested fixture list ahead.
Moving onto the centre-backs, and it is tough to see past Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte. Following a tough outing last weekend where Harry Kane dominated and harassed both of them, it’s imperative the two are back together to continue developing their promising partnership.
At left back, we do anticipate Joao Cancelo to retain his starting role for one more game-week at least. It was good to see Benjamin Mendy back in action against Olympiacos in order to provide depth in the squad, but also the appropriate width needed for our build-up play. However, Cancelo has performed admirably in the inverted full-back role.
In midfield, it does feel like a game for Rodri to keep his place at the base of midfield. Given the physicality and reliance on set pieces for this Burnley side, the size and aerial threat Rodri possesses is something we should not take for granted. The Spaniard still has areas to improve in his game, but a home tie against Burnley does suit many of the midfielder’s attributes.
Ahead of him, this does pretty much pick itself. Kevin De Bruyne is almost certain to start after been given a short break during the week. The Belgian has looked fatigued and somewhat underwhelming this season. Whether it’s an over reliance on him, meaning the opposition double-up sooner on his first touch, or whether it is simply needing the exceptional playmaker to play every game while he his fit, has now caused a natural dip in form. His short break will hopefully give him the necessary time to come back 100 percent for this weekend.
Next to him, it can be none other than Phil Foden. Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva showed promising signs throughout the match in Greece that they may be returning to the quality usually associated with them, but Foden simply has to start this game. I worry Guardiola might play him out wide, but due to Burnley’s poor start this season and deep block system, Foden’s vertical style and goal threat in and around the box will be essential.
On the flank, we suspect and hope Raheem Sterling and Ferran Torres will be the chosen wingers. The former looked busy and lively in midweek – although he didn’t create a whole lot outside of his delicious back heel for Phil Foden’s goal. But his directness and clear quality going forward is another key component to exploit, whether it is cutting in from the left or making darting runs in behind from the right.
The same would apply to Torres, who was an unused substitute against Olympiacos. After a promising start last weekend against Spurs, the young Spaniard was doubled up for most of the game shortly after the opening twenty minutes. We hope that won’t be the case this weekend, as arguably his best performance so far this season was in the League Cup victory away to Burnley back in September.
In the central striker role, Gabriel Jesus will presumably continue his duties at the head of the forward line. Similar to most of our squad, it was another treat to see Sergio Agüero handed minutes on Wednesday night, after suffering another minor injury. Yet, the Brazilian should maintain his spot at number nine as his movement off the ball will be critical in manipulating spaces in the stubborn Burnley backline.
Substitutes: Zack Steffen, Benjamin Mendy, John Stones, Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Aguero.
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