Nathan Aké partnering John Stones, Raheem Sterling to start! - Predicted Team: Aston Villa vs Manchester City (PL)

In the shadow of the news stories surrounding the European Super League, you'd be forgiven for not remembering that Manchester City have a Premier League clash with Aston Villa this Wednesday.
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In the shadow of the news stories surrounding the European Super League, you'd be forgiven for not remembering that Manchester City have a Premier League clash with Aston Villa this Wednesday.

Will it even matter? The truth is that we don't know right now. But in light of the incredible news that Manchester City are withdrawing from the ill-timed, poorly planed European Super League, we're gonna have a go at predicting a line-up.

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side head into this one in uncertain form. Despite beating Borussia Dortmund in both legs of their Champions League quarter-final, they've recently lost in the league to Leeds United, and crashed out of the FA Cup semi-final to Chelsea without putting up much of a fight.

The key criticism coming out of these games has been heavy rotation and selecting players suffering from poor form. Whether this is a lesson that the manager will take on board for this game however, remains to be seen.

Since the pre-match press conference was dominated by talk of a different competition, we learned little to nothing about the fitness of the squad. At the time of writing though, it's safe to assume both Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Agüero are out with injuries.

Here's how we think Pep Guardiola will set-up his team...


Ederson will start in goal. Despite making a crucial mistake in the FA Cup semi-final, it's expected Zack Steffen will play in the Carabao Cup final this weekend, opening the door for the Brazilian to take his place back between the sticks here.

At centre-back it's likely we see a completely different pairing from Saturday in John Stones and Nathan Aké. Rotation will be a worry for fans in a number of positions across the pitch, but Aké has looked good since his return from injury and Stones has had such a resurgence this season, that people should be comfortable with this partnership.

At Wembley, Guardiola selected two full-backs very much out of form right now and I don't think he'll make that mistake again. Kyle Walker should replace Cancelo at right-back, and Oleksandr Zinchenko on the left, pushing into midfield when needed.


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A week ago the inclusion of our captain Fernandinho would have been expected, but I wonder whether his involvement in two of City's recent defeats will be a cause for concern. For that reason I think Rodrigo will start his third game in a row, with a rest expected at the weekend.

Alongside the Spaniard we'll see the Ilkay Gündogan and Bernardo Silva return to the side. The team missed their control on the ball in the Chelsea defeat, and with City expected to have far greater possession, their inclusion seems like a given.

Up front is slightly more difficult to predict. Only two forwards seem to be in form, and they'll both be needed for upcoming matches. Despite that I expect Riyad Mahrez to start on the right. 

I also think Raheem Sterling will also start at Villa Park, to the collective groan of everyone reading this. There's an argument to be made for allowing him to try and play himself out of form, but I'm not willing to make that here. Instead, I'll just say that it's currently easier to play him in a game of less importance than some coming up.


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That leaves one spot left open which will be taken by Phil Foden. This could be as a false nine, switching with Bernardo and Gündogan. Or perhaps as a fluid front three, switching positions with the other forwards throughout the game. Either way, Foden is one of the few players we can rely on to put the ball in the back of the net, and secure the win that City fans need after a difficult week.


Substitutes: Zack Steffen, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus.


You can follow Richard on Twitter here: @ignoblewretch

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