Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake set for debut - Predicted Team: Wolves vs Man City (Premier League)
Manchester City will kick-off their new season with a tricky visit to Molineux as the Blues face a Wolves side that twice bested City in the previous campaign. Wolves began their season by exhibiting solid defensive work and potency going forward throughout a comfortable win away to Sheffield United, and Nuno’s side will be optimistic of securing a result against City.
Pep Guardiola will be desperate to begin the season by securing all three points; however, given the attacking threat that Wolves possess, the trip to the West Midlands will be far from straightforward. In recent weeks, the City squad have had limited time together due to international commitments and quarantine procedures, however, owing to the quality that City possess, Pep’s side should be able to secure the win.
Regarding Manchester City’s team news, Sergio Aguero and Aymeric Laporte will not feature due to lack of fitness, however, both are nearing their returns to first-team action. Furthermore, summer signings Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake are fit and ready to make their City debuts, and the new arrivals will be hoping to hit the ground running as they look to establish themselves at the club. Riyad Mahrez has also returned to training over the past few days, after he tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
Here’s how we think Manchester City will line up on Monday night...
Between the sticks, Ederson is certain to start, and the 2019/20 Premier League Golden Glove winner will be hopeful of registering a clean sheet against the side that put five past him across two games last season. Wolves’ Raul Jiminez and Adama Traore were particularly impressive at Bramall Lane last weekend and the Brazilian goalkeeper will be wary of Wolves’ potent attack.
In defence, we expect Kyle Walker to kick off the campaign at right-back given his impressive form towards the end of last season. The England international was arguably Manchester City’s best performer against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and Walker did well to keep Eden Hazard quiet throughout the game. With fellow right-back Joao Cancelo also finishing the season strongly, Walker can expect the Portuguese international to challenge for Walker’s starting berth over the coming months, and so, I expect Walker to be at his very best at Molineux.
At left centre-back, we expect Nathan Ake to start his first game for the club as Aymeric Laporte will not feature due to a lack of fitness. We expect the Dutchman to be accompanied by Eric Garcia. The principal reason that we believe Garcia will be favoured ahead of Stones is due to Pep Guardiola's profound trust in the young Catalan defender. I do however expect John Stones to then start against Bournemouth in Thursday’s Carabao Cup tie.
At left-back, we believe that Joao Cancelo will be Pep’s preferred option considering his recent good form for both club and country. The last time the two sides met, Benjamin Mendy notably struggled to contain the raw pace and power of Adama Traore, thus, I believe that Cancelo’s superior speed will persuade Guardiola to select the Portuguese over the Frenchman. Whilst Cancelo is by no means defensively astute, he is in my opinion our best option for the problematic position.
In midfield, we believe that Guardiola will opt for the Rodri-Ilkay Gundogan double pivot with the aim of retaining possession, whilst also looking to contain Wolves’ counter-attacking prowess. Rodri enjoyed an impressive first campaign in Manchester and the Spaniard will be looking to impress further this season, Meanwhile, Gundogan is often quietly excellent in the Manchester City midfield and is possibly the most underrated player at the club.
Alongside Rodri and Gundogan in midfield, we expect the 2019-20 PFA Player of the Year Kevin De Bruyne to feature. The presence of both Rodri and Gundogan on the field should provide De Bruyne with less defensive responsibilities, thus allowing the Belgian to dictate Manchester City’s attacks with more freedom. The Belgian superstar enjoyed the best season of his career last term, and will be looking to continue his excellent form as City aim to regain the Premier League title.
Now for the front three. On the right side of the attacking trio, we believe that Ferran Torres is in line for his debut and the rising star will hope to impress on his first game in City blue. Whilst we expect Torres to start, we expect the Spanish International to be replaced by either Phil Foden or Riyad Mahrez at some point in the evening.
On the opposite flank, we expect Raheem Sterling to retain his starting berth. The England international enjoyed the most prolific season of his career last term, recording an impressive 41 goal contributions in 52 Manchester City appearances and I expect him to shine against Wolves. Sterling has improved each year he has been at the club and the winger again looks set to be an integral cog in the City attack.
Finally, we expect Gabriel Jesus to lead the line. Manchester City’s number nine finished the season strongly, and his immense work-rate proved pivotal in defeating Real Madrid last season. Similarly to Sterling, the Brazilian has also improved each year he has been at the club and with Aguero now aged 32 and in the final year of his contract, Jesus will need to step up should he wish to inherit the legendary Argentine’s position as the club’s first-choice striker.
Substitutes: Zack Steffen, Benjamin Mendy, John Stones, Fernandinho, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez.
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