Ferran Torres to get his first league start, with Rodri dropped - Sheffield United vs Man City Predicted XI (PL)

Manchester City will look to build on their much improved performance in the Champions League as they return to Premier League action against the Blades at Bramall Lane this Saturday.
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Manchester City will look to build on their much improved performance in the Champions League as they return to Premier League action against the Blades at Bramall Lane this Saturday.

Tuesday's game saw City return to form with a dominant display that was reminiscent of their Centurions season of 2017/18 - wingers stretched the play out wide, full-backs inverted, and midfielders even overlapped.

Now, whether that will happen again in this game is a complete coin toss. Pep Guardiola said after the Marseille match that he used that formation to get around the low-block. But that begs the question as to why that hasn't been done more often this past year.

What's likely to happen with this match is that Pep will play a similar line-up that allows his team the option to switch the style of play depending on the opposition. You wouldn't expect Sheffield United to sit back and allow City possession based on how they've conducted themselves in the Premier League so far. This isn't a normal season though, and needs-must when they've earned only one point so far. There's a template to beating Pep Guardiola's Manchester City and they'd be foolish not to try it.

Here's how we think the blues will line up for this one...


Let's face it, Ederson was practically rested against Marseille. The defence made sure he had very little to do other than practice his distribution. It's a given that he starts again.

Many would say (and I agree with them) that it's time Kyle Walker gets a break, but you try telling this Yorkshire lad that he's not going to play against his boyhood club. With the form he's in, and being on the verge of his 100th Premier League appearance for the club, there's even the possibility that Pep puts the captains armband on him.

Ruben Dias should continue at the right-side of centre-back, but who plays along side him is a tough one. Having only just returned from injury, you'd be tempted to wrap Aymeric Laporte up in cotton wool, however I think he'll start again here and catch his breath in midweek. 

Some have said that Oleksandr Zinchenko had a good game against Marseille, but I'm inclined to agree with the City Xtra player ratings and disagree. He didn't offer enough going forward so I'd be keen to see Joao Cancelo play at left-back and offer us more in attack.

In midfield, I expect the faux-double pivot again, only this time without the main man Rodri. Ilkay Gundogan will anchor the midfield with Bernardo Silva taking up the role the German had in Manchester City's last match - drifting between a defensive and attacking midfield role, depending on how Sheffield United set out their stall. Bernardo played a similar role in the win against Arsenal recently and on his day he could play any position on the pitch.

Ahead of them controlling the game, expect to see Kevin De Bruyne. Manchester City look lost without their captain steering the ship, and will look for him to find a few goals before cautiously taking him off.

The youthful forward line Pep Guardiola put out on Tuesday night was a breath of fresh air after the drudgery we witnessed against West Ham. What's also appealing about playing those three players again is the versatility of moving them across the pitch if something isn't working. So for my money, we'll see Raheem Sterling start centrally up front, being flanked by Phil Foden on the right, and Ferran Torres to his left, with the three interchanging throughout the game.

This would mean just two changes from the team we saw play only days ago, but it worked. Not only that, it worked better as a template for a continuous formation moving forward than anything we've seen from a Pep Guardiola starting eleven for some time. 

Of course, the bench will be filled with whoever else isn't injured or isolating this week. Our guess is: Steffen, Zinchenko, Garcia, Stones, Rodri, Mahrez and Palmer.


You can follow Richard on Twitter here: @ignoblewretch

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