Manchester City will begin the defence of their Carabao Cup crown when they take on Preston North End at Deepdale in the a Third Round fixture on Tuesday.

The games continue to come thick and fast all across Europe and in England the Third Round of the Carabao Cup will be played out this week. Holders Manchester City will be in action on Tuesday, when they travel to the Deepdale Stadium to face off against Preston North End.

Preston North End have begun the 2019-20 season in strong fashion, having presented themselves as promotion candidates in the EFL Championship early in the season. In the Carabao Cup, the Lilywhites have eased into the Third Round, although they did need a penalty shootout to get past Hull City in the previous stage.

Manchester City, on the other hand, have endured a slower-than-usual start to the current campaign. The defending Premier League and Carabao Cup champions are already five points adrift of Liverpool in the top-flight, thanks in large part to their shock defeat at the hands of Norwich City last week.

Manchester City were victorious the last time they locked horns with Preston North End at Deepdale, coming from a goal down to record a 3-1 win in the FA Cup Fifth Round in 2007. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Preston North End

Can Alex Neil and his men pull off a big surprise? (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Can Alex Neil and his men pull off a big surprise? (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Alex Neil has a near full-strength squad at his disposal, with only four players likely to miss out for Preston North End when Manchester City come visiting in the Carabao Cup. And, the likes of Billy Bodin, David Nugent and club captain Tom Clarke are all nearing their return to action, with Louis Moult the only long-term absentee.

Neil should line his side up in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation once again. And, unlike the previous two rounds, the Preston North End boss should field a strong lineup against what is likely to be a largely second-string Manchester City side.

There is unlikely to be any change in goal, with Declan Rudd in line to make his first Carabao Cup appearance of the season. Darnell Fisher, Ben Davies and Patrick Bauer should keep hold of their places at the back, but Joe Rafferty should come in as the left-back in place of Andrew Hughes.

The midfield double pivot will hold the key for Preston, if they are stifle the Manchester City attack. As a result, Ben Pearson and Paul Gallagher are expected to continue their partnership in the middle of the park, with the duo looking to nip the visitors’ build-up in the bud while attempting to recycle the ball efficiently.

In the absence of Billy Bodin, Josh Harrop is expected to keep his place on the right side of the Preston attack, with Sean Maguire starting on the opposite flank. Tom Barkhuizen should lead the line for the hosts, with top scorer Daniel Johnson playing off him. Johnson will also be the creator in chief in Neil’s side, looking to pierce what is a vulnerable Manchester City defence.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Rudd; Fisher, Bauer, Davies, Rafferty; Pearson, Gallagher; Harrop, Johnson, Maguire; Barkhuizen

Preston

Manchester City

Amid a brewing injury crisis, Pep Guardiola is fortunate enough to not have a fresh injury concern to deal with. Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Leroy Sane remain the long-term absentees for Manchester City, with the unavailability of Laporte and Stones making defence a worrisome area.

The absence of the aforementioned duo means Nicolas Otamendi will continue to feature at the heart of the Manchester City defence, although Fernandinho could be given a rest ahead of a big game this weekend against Everton. The rest of the defensive unit, however, will see Guardiola ring in the changes.

Otamendi ought to be accompanied by promising defender Eric Garcia in the central defensive partnership, following the youngster’s maiden appearance of the season this past weekend. Joao Cancelo and Angelino are expected to make their first starts for Manchester City and are likely to be the full-back pairing, with Claudio Bravo taking his place between the sticks.

Up ahead in midfield, Guardiola should afford some rest to Rodri, who has played every game so far for Manchester City. In his stead, Ilkay Gundogan is expected to be the deepest of the three midfielders. Phil Foden, who should have recovered from a bout of illness will reprise the no. 8 role, with Oleksandr Zinchenko returning to his midfield roots on a rare occasion.

Gabriel Jesus should lead the line for Manchester City, allowing Sergio Aguero a breather. And, Guardiola is expected to blood in Adrian Bernabe after the youngster impressed in the UEFA Youth League last week.

The final spot in the side should be handed to Raheem Sterling, who played no part in the rout of Watford. Sterling, though, is expected to be the first player to be taken off, should City have the job done early in the second half.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bravo; Cancelo, Otamendi, Garcia, Angelino; Foden, Gundogan, Zinchenko; Bernabe, Jesus, Sterling

City

Key Stats

  • Preston North End and Manchester City will be meeting in the Carabao Cup for the first time ever, although they have previously faced off on 93 occasions.
  • Manchester City have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven fixtures in the Carabao Cup, dating back to the 2018 final against Arsenal.
  • Preston North End have not been beaten at home in the League Cup since 2012, when Middlesbrough got the better of them.
  • Manchester City have scored three or more goals in five of their last seven fixtures across all competitions.
  • Preston North End boast a perfect record at Deepdale this season, having won each of their five games so far.

Player to Watch

Joao Cancelo

A big day for Cancelo. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

A big day for Cancelo. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

It has been a slow initiation in English football for Joao Cancelo, with Pep Guardiola choosing to ease him into the Manchester City first-team setup slowly. But, the Carabao Cup presents the Portuguese international with the chance to finally make his mark from the get-go.

The hosts’ suspect defence means Cancelo should have plenty of opportunities to be a menace for Joe Rafferty on his forays down the right flank. And, who knows, a game-changing performance might just force Guardiola to thrust Cancelo into the role of being a regular, with Kyle Walker not quite at his best lately.

Prediction

Preston North End 1-3 Manchester City

The League Cup has known to be a breeding ground for upsets over the years. And, a goal-hungry Preston North End will fancy their chances against a second-string Manchester City side. But, even a second-string City outfit is capable of giving some of the best English teams a run for their money.

Not to forget, there are a few players who will be eager to make an impression and earn a place as a regular in Pep Guardiola’s first-team setup. And so, all signs point towards a comfortable evening for the visitors, although the Lilywhites should make things difficult for them early on. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Manchester City.

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