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Stefan Ortega and Oscar Bobb to start, Jeremy Doku to return – Predicted XI: Manchester City vs Huddersfield Town (FA Cup Third Round)

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Manchester City begin their defence of their FA Cup title this weekend as they welcome Huddersfield Town to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

En route to a historic Treble triumph, last season’s tournament culminated in Pep Guardiola’s side defeating bitter rivals Manchester United at Wembley Stadium inspired by a sensational Ilkay Gundogan brace.

Victory at Wembley Stadium was accompanied by a third successive Premier League title claim, fending off competition from Arsenal, while a maiden UEFA Champions League success in Istanbul was followed up shortly afterwards thanks to a single Rodrigo strike.

This weekend’s visit from Darren Moore’s side marks Manchester City’s start to the 2024 calendar year, as Pep Guardiola and his players will look to replicate last season’s successes and will certainly be buoyed by the return of Kevin De Bruyne, Jeremy Doku, and Erling Haaland to first-team training.

John Stones will remain ruled out with an ankle problem, while Rodri is a major doubt following the passing of his grandmother, with Guardiola further revealing that all of Matheus Nunes, Bernardo Silva, Kalvin Phillips, and Scott Carson battling illness.

After a press conference that saw manager Pep Guardiola offer plenty of doubt over his options for this weekend’s contest, here is the Manchester City side we predict will be selected against Huddersfield Town!

Predicted XI

Stefan Ortega Moreno will start in goal for Manchester City, as per standard procedure for the Premier League champions in domestic cup action, handing a much-needed break for mainstay Ederson.

While captain Kyle Walker has been a mainstay in the City squad so far this season, we anticipate the veteran full-back to be granted a rest this time around, making way for Rico Lewis in a more traditional role for the youngster.

In central defence, we predict Pep Guardiola to select a partnership of Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake, with John Stones remaining out through injury and Ruben Dias being granted further rest with Newcastle in mind next weekend.

Josko Gvardiol is likely to start at left-back, however do not rule out the possibility of Sergio Gomez being granted a rare opportunity to impress in the defensive line against the Championship outfit.

In the likely absence of Rodri this weekend, we believe Mateo Kovacic could be trusted to take on the lone defensive midfield role, but may be accompanied by the aforementioned Lewis, should the defender invert into the middle of the park.

Matheus Nunes and Phil Foden could be granted license to roam and cause havoc amongst the Huddersfield defence, with Guardiola’s side likely to require patience but a cutting, decisive edge when spaces appear.

Oscar Bobb could receive another opportunity to excel from the right-sided wing role, while Jack Grealish is likely to occupy left-wing as Jeremy Doku continues his road to full fitness in the coming weeks.

Julian Alvarez could start at up front for Manchester City.

Starting XI: Ortega Moreno; Lewis, Akanji, Ake, Gvardiol; Kovacic, Nunes, Foden; Bobb, Alvarez, Grealish.

Substitutes: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Gomez, Phillips, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Haaland, Doku.

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