Match Preview – Manchester City (A)

It’s fair to say Manchester City haven’t been at the very top of their game in recent weeks. One loss and a draw in the last five games isn’t enough for perfectionist Pep Guardiola. However, they are still arguably one of the best, if not the best team in Europe this season. But Marco Silva has showed us this season that it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we can go toe to toe with any side.

City had to come from a goal behind against Hoffenheim in midweek, apparently suffering a hangover from their 2-0 loss against Chelsea last weekend. Although Everton have looked to have been suffering from a similar big game defeat hangover over the last couple of games, Silva’s side have shown the quality at times this season to suggest that they really can compete in this one.

It may have to be without midfield terrier Idrissa Gueye, though. Silva confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Gana would have to be assessed before a decision was made on whether the Senegalese would recover from a minor knock in time for the game. Who comes in to take his place then, if he doesn’t make it? Tom Davies has been the central midfield option named in the squad in recent weeks, but he could have recently-returned Morgan Schneiderlin and James McCarthy to compete with, who arguably are more suited to the deeper role available. It would be great if Davies was given a chance to recreate his heroic goal against Manchester City a couple of years back, though.

Guardiola confirmed in his press conference that both Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne may return to his side for this one, of course. Striker Gabriel Jesus has been suffering a difficult spell in front of goal, but whichever striker they field, it’s nothing big Yerry Mina isn’t capable of dealing with. He’s likely to be partnered by Michael Keane again, after the former United man took Kurt Zouma’s place for the Watford draw.

Silva will likely stick with his trusted front four, including Theo Walcott. The winger appeared to have a point to prove against Watford after being dropped for the Newcastle match, even though he couldn’t add the finishing touch. I feel a goal is coming very soon for Theo, though.

Silva will probably employ similar tactics to the ones he has in the other games against top six opponents, with a high defensive line but only pressing when the opponents enter his side’s half. Fingers crossed that won’t be for the whole game.

We’ve had some great memories against City even since they gained nouveau-riche status, so let’s make some more with the strongest team we’ve had in a while. I feel a Richarlison on John Stones nutmeg coming on.

COYB!

– Tom