In the EFL Cup tonight, Manchester City take on a Southampton side who will be looking to put last weekend’s record-breaking 9-0 drubbing behind them.
Still, while the Saints will no doubt be smarting, the Etihad perhaps isn’t the best place to visit when you’re looking to recover. Indeed, City, who are coming off the back of a comfortable 3-0 victory over Aston Villa are the current champions of this competition, have already smashed the likes of Watford in their home stadium this season.
With Pep Guardiola having rotated the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero this season, the Spaniard isn’t afraid to chop and change, though he does clearly take the competition seriously having won it two years on the bounce, so perhaps we can expect to see a mix of youth and experience.
So, having said that, here’s a look at our predicted XI.
Indeed, Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have chopped and changed all season already and the Brazilian has been favoured in recent league games, so we expect Aguero to lead the line as he did in Champions League competition last week. Considering how deadly the Argentine has been since arriving on these shores, a striker of his stature should be unleashed against a side who recently shipped nine goals.
Elsewhere, Ilkay Gundogan and particularly Raheem Sterling have been two of Guardiola’s only real consistent starters and the latter himself bagged a goal in City’s last EFL Cup outing away to Preston. The former, meanwhile, recently spoke of how the champions were expecting a reaction from their visitors tonight, so his experience in the middle could prove invaluable.
Gundogan told the official website he expects the Saints to ‘defend aggressively and sit quite deep’, so having his 91% pass completion rate available (per WhoScored) could help play around their potential press, as well as unlock any doors. If a side is going to defend deep as he predicts, the firepower of Sterling, Aguero and Riyad Mahrez being fed by the likes of the German and Phil Foden could be crucial.
Angelino – who Guardiola recently namechecked – should also get a run out after his cameo against Aston Villa and the Cityzens’ recent struggles in the left-back are. Furthermore, both Eric Garcia and Adrian Bernabe started away to Preston, so perhaps it’d do their development some good by allowing them to continue their journey in this competition.
The former had a 95.8 pass success rate (WhoScored) and given the injury problems John Stones has had this season coupled with Fernandinho’s suspension, a role should have opened up in central defence.
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