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Matheus Nunes starting out wide, John Stones in midfield – Predicted XI: Manchester City vs Manchester United (Premier League)



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Pep Guardiola embarks on the first of several challenging March fixtures with his Manchester City players this weekend, as they welcome United to the Etihad Stadium.

The clash with Manchester United is the first of five contests across all competitions this month, with accompanying challenges against Liverpool and Arsenal in the Premier League, as well as Newcastle United in the FA Cup quarter-final.

A UEFA Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against FC Copenhagen comes next week, with Manchester City holding a 3-1 advantage heading into the meeting, that will precede a hugely important visit to Anfield.

Before then, it is the mere matter of a Manchester derby to contend with, and while Jack Grealish is likely to be Pep Guardiola’s only absentee through injury, the Catalan coach will have plenty to think about nonetheless.

The injury to the England international sparks a debate as to who will occupy the left-sided attacking role for the Premier League champions, with Oscar Bobb, Matheus Nunes, and Jeremy Doku likely to be in contention.

Ahead of the latest instalment of the ever-iconic Manchester derby, here is how we predict Pep Guardiola will line-up his Manchester City squad for the visit of Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.

Predicted XI

Ederson will start in goal as per standard procedure in the Premier League.

Similarly to the meeting with Bournemouth in the last top-flight clash, we believe John Stones will start as Manchester City’s right-back, but ultimately inverting into defensive midfield to sit alongside and accompany Rodrigo.

In central defence, but forming the right and central elements of a defensive-three when in possession, we anticipate that Manuel Akanji and Ruben Dias will start for Manchester City this weekend.

With Josko Gvardiol still working back to full fitness following an ankle ligament problem, Nathan Ake is highly likely to start this one as Manchester City’s left-back, but left-sided centre-back when forming a back-three.

Rodri will start at the base of Manchester City’s midfield, occupying the area of the park with John Stones.

In the free-roaming attacking midfield positions, we believe that Pep Guardiola will entrust both Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden to cause havoc and creativity upon the Manchester United defence.

Bernardo Silva could start on the right of a front-three, although Foden could also move into the position should Guardiola opt for more fluidity throughout his attacking set-up on Sunday afternoon.

Erling Haaland is highly likely to be the lone striker for Manchester City, hoping to build on his staggering five-goal haul against Luton Town in the FA Cup fifth round in midweek as part of a 2-6 win.

Despite the options of Oscar Bobb and Jeremy Doku, we’re predicting that Pep Guardiola could be bold and launch Matheus Nunes as his left-sided forward – as trialled in recent matches – to retain control of the ball high up the pitch, similar to Jack Grealish’s ability.

Starting XI: Ederson; Stones, Akanji, Dias, Ake; Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden; Bernardo, Haaland, Nunes.

Substitutes: Ortega, Lewis, Walker, Gvardiol, Gomez, Kovacic, Alvarez, Bobb, Doku.