Manchester City return to Premier League action tonight when they welcome Arsenal to the Etihad Stadium as the English top flight resumes following a three-month coronavirus-enforced hiatus.
The fixture had been pencilled in for 11 March but was then postponed, with Gunners manager and Pep Guardiola’s former assistant Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully the 38-year-old has since recovered and he now prepares to go up against his former boss for the first time as a manager.
For Manchester City, their hopes of a third successive Premier League title are merely mathematical at this stage, with 25 points to make up on Liverpool, and they will be eager to atone for their last outing, the 2-0 derby defeat to Manchester United on 8 March.
As Guardiola’s team finally grace their home stadium for the first time since the mid-February win over West Ham, Football Transfer Tavern predicts the starting line-up for the visit of Arsenal, anticipating no fewer than five changes from the XI that began the loss at Old Trafford. As per WhoScored, the Spaniard has the luxury of a fully fit squad from which to choose.
Ederson will almost certainly retain his place in goal, although there could be a much-changed back four just ahead of him. Aymeric Laporte is fit to return after the hamstring injury he picked up against Real Madrid in February, so he could slot in alongside Fernandinho at centre-back.
Neither Benjamin Mendy nor Kyle Walker started at Old Trafford but may be reintroduced to the defensive unit for the visit of Arsenal. Those changes would see Oleksandr Zinchenko, Nicolas Otamendi and Joao Cancelo all drop out of the starting XI, with the latter the subject of transfer speculation in recent weeks linking him with an Etihad exit.
Rodri and Ilkay Gundogan are likely to retain their places in midfield and Kevin De Bruyne, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over the Gunners in December, should come back into the line-up after missing the derby defeat with a back injury sustained in the Carabao Cup final. That would see David Silva dropping out of the team to make way for the Belgian.
The one anticipated change in attack sees Riyad Mahrez coming in for Phil Foden on the right wing, with the Algerian hoping to add to his tally of nine goals and 14 assists this season. Sergio Aguero should continue at centre-forward while Raheem Sterling might just about keep his place on the left wing.
Guardiola may decide to bring the fit-again Leroy Sane back into the team in place of the out-of-form England attacker, although with the German not playing a senior game in 10 months following his cruciate ligament injury, the manager could well prefer to bed in him gently with a run-out from the bench rather than throwing him straight into the line-up.
Man City fans, do you think this will be the team that Guardiola picks to face Arsenal tonight or would you make some changes to it? Let us know in the comments section below!
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience