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Jeremy Doku snubbed as Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez start out wide – Predicted XI: Manchester City vs Chelsea (Premier League)



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Manchester City will need to improve on their last outing against Chelsea this season if their re-emergence at the heart of the Premier League title race is to continue.

The reigning champions showed moments of attacking brilliance in the clash at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, but leaked avoidable goals, compounded by former star Cole Palmer scoring a last-gasp penalty to rescue a 4-4 draw for the hosts.

Luckily, Pep Guardiola’s men come into this meeting at the Etihad Stadium in much better form, winning 11 games in a row across all competitions, whilst sitting just two points off from the current league leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.

City are fresh off a crucial victory in Europe’s premier competition on Tuesday night, having recorded a 1-3 win away to FC Copenhagen to take a significant advantage into next month’s UEFA Champions League last-16 second-leg tie at home.

But several first-team stars will be missing against Chelsea this weekend, including regular left-back starter Josko Gvardiol and treble-winning Jack Grealish due to respective injury problems, while Bernardo Silva’s availability is subject to a late fitness test.

Ahead of a mouthwatering tie at the Etihad Stadium between 2nd place and 10th, here is how we predict Pep Guardiola will line-up his Manchester City side off the back of a successful night in European competition.

Predicted XI

Pep Guardiola is unlikely to overreact to Ederson’s mistake against FC Copenhagen on Tuesday night, and as such the Brazilian international will be inbetween the sticks once again this weekend.

Despite Chelsea’s league position, it would be surprising to see the City manager put out anything other than his strongest available back-four this weekend, and in this case Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones and Nathan Aké.

Then again, we have seen the resurgence of the four centre-back formation this year and it would be fair to say that club captain Walker is not having a vintage season, and as such Manuel Akanji potentially getting a start should not come as a major shock.

Rodri – both as our only out-and-out defensive midfielder and as one of the current best players in the world – is a shoe-in to start against the London side. Even Pep Guardiola wouldn’t omit Rodri in a crucial game against Chelsea twice.

The weeks since Kevin de Bruyne returned from injury have seen the Belgian in top form to say the least. He has got an exceptional record against his former club Chelsea, and you would be crazy to back against him scoring again this Saturday.

In Bernardo Silva’s potential absence or lack of full match fitness following a heavy knock on Tuesday night, partnering De Bruyne with the returning Mateo Kovacic feels safer than starting the less predictable Matheus Nunes.

With no Jack Grealish due to a muscular injury, Jeremy Doku could terrorise most of Chelsea’s defenders. But something tells me that Pep Guardiola will opt for control in the form of Julian Alvarez and Phil Foden on the wings.

Erling Haaland was electric in the reverse fixture earlier this season, and we believe the Norwegian is a shoe-in to play again this weekend – the only question is how many he can add to his tally?

Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Stones, Ake; Rodri, De Bruyne, Kovacic; Foden, Haaland, Alvarez.

Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Lewis, Akanji, Gomez, Susoho, Nunes, Bernardo, Bobb, Doku.