Manchester City could reclaim top spot at least temporarily with a win over relegation-threatened Cardiff City.
The topsy turvy battle for the Premier League title could take yet another twist should Manchester City win over struggling Cardiff City when the two sides meet tomorrow. Over the weekend City went top of the pile as they were comfortable winners over yet another struggling team in Fulham, although Liverpool’s last-gasp win over Tottenham sent them back to the summit of the table.
Manchester City will look to keep the pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s men as Pep Guardiola will not take the game his side have in hand over Liverpool for granted and instead look to win over Cardiff. The Cityzens have been in rampant form since the turn of this year, and there are no visible signs that indicate it could stop anytime soon.
City’s opponents, Cardiff will still be reeling after their unfortunate defeat to Chelsea last weekend. Neil Warnock, in particular, was furious at the end result and placed heavy blame on the officials, which rightly so, cost them a point, probably three. Cesar Azpilecueta scored Chelsea’s equaliser despite being nearly two yards offside. Ruben Loftus-Cheek then scored the winner late on to condemn unfortunate Cardiff to an unlikely defeat.
Warnock will be hoping his team shows character and resilience to get a result against title-chasing City, although he very well knows the difficulty in achieving such a climax. He would at least be hoping his team puts up a fight and play with motivation to take a step away from the relegation zone.
Team News & Tactics
Star striker Sergio Aguero has been ruled out of the contest against Cardiff City, after the Argentine picked up an injury against Fulham. Gabriel Jesus is expected to lead the line in his absence.
Fabian Delph is also out of the Cardiff game, although he will be hoping to come back and help Manchester City for the end of the season run-in. Fernandinho, on the other hand, could go back into the side after having played as a substitute in the last game against Fulham.
John Stones is back to full fitness and could partner Aymeric Laporte in central defence. Guardiola will stick with his standard 4-3-3 formation with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva likely to start in the middle of the park.
With the FA Cup semifinal coming up at the weekend, Guardiola might look to shuffle his pack in attack, handing Leroy Sane a starts on the flank, while Bernardo Silva should feature again.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Sane
In the aftermath of Cardiff’s unfortunate defeat to Chelsea, Warnock had threatened to play his U-23 side against City. IF that would be the case then its hardly easy to predict what his team would look like, although its only thought to be a threat and not practical enough considering the side are in a relegation battle.
As for Cardiff’s team news, there are some positive boosts before the City game. Joe Ralls, Kenneth Zohore and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing could all come back into the starting lineup, and as could Bobby Reid, who could turn out to be a viable attacking option against Man City.
In terms of injuries, Callum Paterson will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury as well as Sol Bamba who suffered damage to his knee last month. Other than that there are no fresh injury concerns from Cardiff’s previous game and Warnock will name his best possible side.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Etheridge; Peltier, Morrison, Manga, Bennett; Ralls, Arter; Mendez-Laing, Reid, Murphy; Zohore
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last six home league meetings with Cardiff City (W4 D2).
- Cardiff haven’t kept a league clean sheet against Manchester City in any of their last 13 meetings (34 goals conceded), since a 0-0 home draw in February 1962.
- Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 35 Premier League home games against promoted sides (W31 D4), since a 0-2 loss vs. Reading in February 2007.
- Manchester City haven’t lost a midweek Premier League home game since May 2010 against Tottenham, winning 22 and drawing five since.
- Cardiff have won two of their last five Premier League away games (L3), as many as they had in their first 28 in the competition (W2 D6 L20).
Player to Watch
The Portuguese has been in flying form this season despite playing in more than one position. His abilities as a central midfielder came to light in the prolonged absence of Kevin De Bruyne this season, and he excelled in the side from the center. However, with the Belgian now back and entirely fit to take part, Silva has moved back to his preferred right wing position.
City’s squad depth, especially reflecting on their available wingers mean, players like Silva always have to be on top of the game or risk losing their place, a plight teammate and record-signing Riyad Mahrez is going through at the moment. But Manchester City would need Silva as they compete on three fronts and he will be instrumental in the run-in with the form that he is in right now.
Manchester City 3-0 Cardiff
There’s no stopping Manchester City at the moment, and despite their relatively low-scoring win over Fulham, Guardiola’s side are expected to be back at their belligerent best against Cardiff. Warnock’s side seemingly have no chance against title-chasing City and will only look to defend their honour by not conceding too many goals.
City are the overwhelming favourites to win this battle and keep up the pressure on Liverpool at the top of the table. Their superior quality should help them dismantle the Bluebirds and move to top of the Premier League table on Wednesday.