Manchester City are fresh off a victory against arguably the best team in the world but they will be up against a different sort of challenge at the Etihad when they welcome newly promoted club Middlesbrough on Saturday. From being the underdogs, City will be the overwhelming favourites against Boro. But as we have previously seen, one can’t take any match in the Premier League for granted. Middlesbrough will have their strategy worked out which will be largely based on camping in their own half and frustrating the City attackers and try to utilise the pace of Traore on the break. City might be tired after a taxing encounter against the Blaugrana and Pep will be aware of making use of fresh legs as and when required.
The Sky Blues hit back after a dry spell of fixtures where they had failed to win in 6. But a match-up against West Bromwich Albion presented a perfect opportunity to City and they gleefully accepted it, notching up a dominating 4-0 win over the Baggies. That, coupled with the Barcelona result will hold them in good stead for the forthcoming fixtures.
With the players having endured a difficult and draining October, there are chances Pep might look to rotate in a couple of areas. But there won’t be anything major as City will want to cling onto the initiative in the League as long as possible.
T4O’s PREDICTED MANCHESTER CITY LINE-UP VS MIDDLESBROUGH (4-1-4-1)
Claudio Bravo is expected to make a return after sitting out against Barcelona due to suspension. There are question marks over the right back spot where Fernando can slot in. Zabaleta will likely be given a rest with Maffeo presenting another option. Kompany is expected to come alongside Stones with Otamendi earning a well-deserved rest. While one of Kolarov or Clichy will be stationed at left-back.
Fernandinho is expected to recover from a slight knock and take up his position in front of the back four. Pep can also employ Gundogan in that position if the Brazilian is in need of an extended rest. In that case, Silva and De Bruyne will slot into the No.8 roles and with the confidence gathered from the Champions League will be looking to run havoc against Boro.
Nolito is expected to come into the side and will line up on the left wing while Raheem Sterling is likely to be on the right flank. Leroy Sane and Jesus Navas offers alternatives. Sergio Aguero is expected to continue in the lone striker’s role.