Manchester City have a host of big names missing for their tricky away fixture against Stoke City.
Pep Guardiola managed to salvage a victory in his first game in charge of the club, however it was anything but convincing. City managed to maintain 77 percent possession throughout the game, but posed little threat to the Sunderland goal. Some may say the Citizens were lucky to come out with all three points as David Moyes’ side defended resolutely as the game drew to its conclusion.
Now, sitting fourth on the table, City will travel to the Britannia Stadium to take on Stoke City. Ahead of a tricky away trip, the last thing Guardiola would have wanted was to have a number of players on the sidelines.
Captain and long-term absentee Vincent Kompany continues to remain unavailable due to a persistent groin injury. Bundesliga imports Ilkay Gundogan and Leory Sane are both ruled out as they’re struggling to recover to full fitness. However, Sane is edging closer to a return and could be fit in time for the Manchester derby. Samir Nasri remains a major doubt as he is still recuperating from a hamstring concern, while Bacary Sagna too, may not be a hundred percent going into the game.
Thus, Pablo Zabaleta may come in to replace the Frenchman as a right-back or as an inverted full-back. New signing John Stones is expected to retain his spot in the the three-man defence comprising of Aleksander Kolarov and Fernandinho in an unfamiliar position.
Further up the field, Yaya Toure seems to have fallen down the pecking order for Guardiola and is not expected to be named in the playing eleven. During the pre-match press conference, the City boss said: ” Yaya is trying very well, he loves football. I spoke with him about his situation, he’s a player with huge quality and I’m really glad that his agent said I’m a good coach, ‘thank you, Dimitri’.
“I have adulation and respect for Yaya’s quality – when he increases his intensity without the ball, he will be involved.”
Nolito and Raheem Sterling will be deployed on the flanks, giving Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva to create opportunities for Sergio Aguero upfront.
Joe Hart, who has been omitted in both of City’s games this season, looks like he will be excluded from the matchday squad yet again, as rumours of an exit are growing stronger by the day.