After a successful, but nervy FA Cup outing at the weekend, Manchester City continue their Premier League run at the Hawthorns as they set to face West Brom.
The Blues got the job done on Saturday against an impressive Cheltenham side in a game where Guardiola rested key players ahead of a crucial period in the Premier League.
Guardiola's men are on a six-match winning streak in the league and will have no intentions to break this run of form anytime soon. City sit 2nd in the table but still have a game in hand and a win on Tuesday will take them to the top. The Quadruple questions have started coming in for Guardiola but he insists his only target right now is ‘Big Sam’.
West Brom under their latest manager have managed to hold Liverpool at Anfield and secured 3 points at the Molineux. Everything’s not rosy for Big Sam though, apart from those two results, West Brom have lost heavily against Leeds, Arsenal and Villa. They got knocked out of the FA Cup by Blackpool on penalties and are currently in the relegation battle in the Premier League. Overall, they have lost 4 out of their last 5 fixtures.
Thankfully there were no casualties at Whaddon Road on Saturday - and apart from a few expected absentees like Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Agüero and Nathan Aké -everyone else is fit for this fixture.
Kyle Walker who had a ‘big impact kick’ in his hips in the game against Villa could potentially be in contention for this one. Aymeric Laporte and Eric Garcia completed the full 90 minutes at the weekend after returning from their spell on the sidelines.
As for West Brom, Karlan Grant and Matthew Phillips are back in contention. Conor Townsend and Grady Diangana remain doubtful for this fixture.
Head to Head
Manchester City have had a smooth sail against this particular opponent in recent times, this is obviously except the recent 1-1 draw at the Etihad back in December. Ilkay Gundogan scored first for City, but West Brom soon got back into the game as a result of an unfortunate deflection off Ruben Dias.
Overall, Manchester City have won 71, drawn 30 and lost 54 games against West Brom. City have won 14 out of their last 15 meetings with West Brom, with the odd fixture being that draw. This will be the 156th meeting between the two sides.
The Manager's thoughts:
Pep Guardiola was asked to speak about his West Brom counterpart and gave a glowing verdict, even describing him as a 'genius', he said; "He had good results, bad results, like everyone. It is not easy to take over a team during the season but against Wolves, Liverpool, other clubs he got good results. West Brom drew against us here, drew against Chelsea.
Sam Allardyce is a genius to take teams when everyone believes it is over. It happens once, twice, three times you can't say it is lucky - he has done it so many times. Training today was really good. We're optimistic to travel to West Brom tomorrow."
Guardiola also mentioned what his team must do to ensure they take all three points from this game, he explained; "We have to play a little bit better [than the last meeting]. We had chances to win the game at the end, but the way we played was not good. I know how good Allardyce teams are at set-pieces, throw-ins, corners. I imagine they worked this week to punish us in this way. They attack the channel - they have incredibly fast players, but at the same time you have to look for weak spots."
Sam Allardyce has been impressed with City’s defensive shape and resilience this season and said he wants to try and implement a similar style at Albion. He began by saying; “They are in great form. If they beat us, it’s not a shock but if we beat them, it’ll be a shock. I watched them in the FA Cup at the weekend and I saw the quality of players who played in that game.
They’ve shown resilience this year. They are doing what I’m trying to do with my team. They’ve become really difficult to score against and that has given them a platform to climb up the league very quickly in recent months.
I don’t think many people will have looked at City and thought of the main reason for their success this season to have been how resilient they’ve been at the back, as well as their outstanding attacking ability.”
After resting many key individuals over the weekend, Pep will surely field a strong side against Big Sam’s side. City will look to get the job done as soon as possible after leaving it very late at Whaddon Road last time out.
With Kevin De Bruyne out for a few weeks, Bernardo Silva is touted to take over his spot in the midfield. Phil Foden – who was our Man of the Match against Cheltenham – will surely start on the left in search of more goals.
Gabriel Jesus who got a goal to his name after a long time, will look to build on it and get those important goals for his team in the league as well. John Stones and Ruben Dias will surely return to the backline alongside Joao Cancelo and Oleksandr Zinchenko in search of another clean sheet. Guardiola’s men will face a tough test at the Hawthorns against a defensive side.
Referee Chris Kavanagh, who was the referee in the last Manchester Derby, will officiate his 12th game of the season. Kavanagh will be joined by assistant referees Adam Nunn and Sian Massey-Ellis, along with David Coote as the fourth official at the Hawthorns.
Video Assistant Referee duties have been handed to Craig Pawson (VAR) and Matthew Wilkes (AVAR) for this game.
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