Manchester City return from the final international break of 2023 with a handful of fitness doubts that could impact Pep Guardiola’s plans against Liverpool on Saturday.
The City boss could have some major decisions to make ahead of City’s crucial Premier League showdown with Jurgen Klopp’s squad, with the two teams heading into the game separated by just one point at the top of the league table.
After a rip-roaring 4-4 draw with Chelsea before the November international break, Manchester City will now be keen on getting back into the wins column, and who better to snatch a victory against than the team chasing you in the Premier League title race.
However, Pep Guardiola could still be putting the pieces of the puzzle together late in the week as the Premier League champions saw their squad hit with a handful of injuries and fitness concerns while the players were away with their respective national teams.
Mateo Kovacic, Kevin De Bruyne, and John Stones are all confirmed to be ruled out for the Liverpool clash, while Ederson, Nathan Ake, Erling Haaland, Matheus Nunes, and Sergio Gomez are all reported to be in a race for full match fitness before Saturday.
With those potential injury concerns in mind, here is how we predict Pep Guardiola will line-up his Manchester City side on against Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium, with kick-off scheduled for 12:30 (UK).
Ederson will start in goal despite picking up a knock during the draw with Chelsea that forced a withdrawal from Brazil action. The inclusion of the ‘injured players’ may be a running theme in this starting line-up.
Kyle Walker will certainly be on the pitch for Manchester City, however. The club captain, who also donned the England international armband against North Macedonia, rarely misses a big game for Pep Guardiola, and that is a trend that is set to continue this season.
Manuel Akanji will play as the right-sided central defender, filling in for the absent John Stones. But it means Manchester City will likely have to play with a flat back-four, with Ruben Dias joining Akanji in the centre of defence.
Josko Gvardiol will take up his usual position on the left defensive flank. Nathan Ake may have been a shout after his superb performance against Liverpool last season, but the Dutchman may still be recovering from a knock.
As we head into midfield, the first name on the team sheet is Rodri of course, who is expected to dominate the lone defensive midfield role for the foreseeable future, and could force a review of Kalvin Phillips’ position at the club.
Alongside Rodri could be Rico Lewis, who has shown enough to make his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans at England. The 19-year-old also has the capabilities to advance forward in the Manchester City midfield, whilst having the legs to offer defensive work.
Bernardo Silva will take up the other advanced midfield role for Pep Guardiola, which of course could mean that there is no room for Julian Alvarez, who will be returning late from FIFA World Cup Qualifying in South America with Argentina.
The front three picks itself for me; Phil Foden on the right, Jack Grealish on the left, and of course, Erling Haaland through the middle, who I believe will be fit enough to go on Saturday having trained as normal with his Manchester City teammates this week.
Starting XI: Ederson; Walker, Akanji, Dias, Gvardiol; Rodri, Lewis, Bernardo; Foden, Haaland, Grealish.
Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Carson, Ake, Gomez, Phillips, Nunes, Bobb, Doku, Alvarez.
“They told me” – Manchester City star reveals impact of former defender on transfer decision
Manchester United and Liverpool reveal major injury blows ahead of crunch Manchester City fixtures
Pep Guardiola issues Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol fitness update ahead of Bournemouth clash
The BIG World-Cup Preview!
Manchester City undergo scouting mission on Juventus midfielder
Exclusive: Manchester City Plan Major Etihad Stadium Stand Redevelopment
News3 days ago
Pep Guardiola reveals fresh Kevin De Bruyne injury concern following Brentford win
Match Coverage3 days ago
Match Report and Player Ratings: Manchester City 1-0 Brentford (Premier League)
News2 days ago
La Liga sporting director makes case to sign Manchester City forward next summer
Transfers2 days ago
Manchester City face battle over signing of €130 million Bundesliga star – Liverpool and Real Madrid interested