Manchester City will be looking to close the gap to leaders Liverpool when they face off against Wolves on Friday night at the Molineux.

Manchester City will be hoping to reduce the gap at the top of the table when they lock horns with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux on Matchday 19 of the 2019-20 Premier League on Friday night.

Wolves bounced back from their defeat to Tottenham by beating Norwich City 2-1 last weekend and find themselves in the eighth spot in the table heading into Friday’s game. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have lost just one of their last thirteen league games and a win this week would see them make the jump to fifth place in the standings.

Manchester City could go past second-placed Leicester City depending on the outcome of the Foxes’ clash against Liverpool. Following the derby defeat earlier this month, the Cityzens have won four in four in all competitions, with their most recent fixture ending in a 3-1 triumph against Leicester. And Pep Guardiola will be hoping that his team continue on their winning ways at the Molineux.

The reverse fixture in October ended in a 2-0 triumph for Wolves, courtesy a second half double from Adama Traore. And ahead of this exciting match-up coming our way on Friday night, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Besiktas: Group K - UEFA Europa League

Can Nuno and Wolves do the double against Manchester City? (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Nuno Espirito Santo has no fresh injury concerns heading into the game, meaning Willy Boly and Morgan Gibbs-White are the only two absentees for Wolves. The hosts have had an extra day of rest, having last played on Saturday and are unlikely to make any changes to the side that defeated Norwich.

Rui Patricio is a certainty under the crossbar for Wolves, while the three-man defence shielding him ought to comprise of Leander Dendoncker, captain Conor Coady and Romain Saiss, who scored in the last game. Matt Doherty and Jonny will line up as the wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

The Portuguese duo of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves will pair up at the centre of the park and look to thwart their Manchester City counterparts, while helping create chances with their range of distribution.

Adama Traore, who was the star of the show the last time Wolves faced City, will line up on the right wing, with Diogo Jota starting on the left. Raul Jimenez, who is enjoying quite a productive season in front of goal, should occupy the centre-forward role for the hosts.

Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez, Jota

Manchester City

The reigning Premier League champions will once again be without the services of John Stones and captain David Silva, while long-term absentees Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane continue to remain sidelined. With City scheduled to play again on Sunday, Guardiola might be tempted to rotate his troops against Wolves.

There is no looking past Brazilian international Ederson Moraes in goal for Manchester City, while Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi should once again start at the heart of the defence, given the lack of options at the manager’s disposal.

Kyle Walker should edge out Joao Cancelo for the right-back slot once again, while Benjamin Mendy is likely to keep his place on the left, ahead of Angelino and Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Ilkay Gundogan picked up a knock in the win against Leicester and might be benched for Friday’s game. In his stead, summer arrival Rodri could get the nod as the deepest of the three midfielders for the Cityzens. Kevin De Bruyne should hold on to his place in the middle, but youngster Phil Foden could get a look-in at the Molineux.

Riyad Mahrez, who scored against the Foxes, might drop out to the bench, with Bernardo Silva expected to move to the right wing. Raheem Sterling should retain his place on the left, while the fit again Sergio Aguero could start ahead of Gabriel Jesus, who also was on the scoresheet against Leicester.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Mendy; De Bruyne, Rodri, Foden; Silva, Aguero, Sterling

Key Stats

  • Having won the reverse fixture 2-0 at the Etihad in October, Wolves are looking to complete their first league double over Manchester City since 1999-00 in the second tier, and for the first time in the top-flight since 1960-61.
  • Manchester City have only failed to score in one of their last 10 league games against Wolves, netting 21 goals in total. However, that blank did come in the reverse fixture in October (0-2).
  • Wolves have lost all three of their Premier League games played on a Friday, while Manchester City have lost just one of their eight such games (W4 D3).
  • Manchester City have scored 50 goals in their 18 Premier League games this season – it is the fifth occasion of a Premier League side scoring 50+ goals before the halfway point of the campaign, with the Cityzens responsible for all of them (also in 2011-12, 2013-14, 2017-18 and 2018-19).
  • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has won 99 of his 132 Premier League games so far. A win against Wolves will see him break Jose Mourinho’s record for fewest number of games to reach 100 Premier League wins, with Mourinho doing so in 142 games.

Player to Watch

Adama Traore

Can Adama Traore repeat his exploits from the reverse fixture? (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Can Adama Traore repeat his exploits from the reverse fixture? (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

The 23-year-old was the difference between the two teams when Manchester City last faced Wolves earlier this season, wining the game with two late goals. Having joined the club last year, Traore is showing signs of fulfilling the immense potential he possesses and has often been the standout player for Nuno’s side this term.

So far this season, Traore has found the back of the net on four occasions and has set up four more. Be it as a wing-back of in an advanced role on the right flank, the former Barcelona academy ace has impressed with his pace and physicality. He will be hoping to put in another match-winning performance when Manchester City come visiting on Friday.

Prediction

Wolves 2-2 Manchester City

Wolves have lost just one of their last nine matches across all competitions and have enjoyed a strong record against the Big Six clubs since the last season. Having already beaten their upcoming opponents once this term, they will back themselves to do a double against the Premier League champions.

Manchester City haven’t been at their best this season, but have reacted strongly to the derby defeat against Manchester United, winning four games on the bounce in all competitions, scoring thirteen goals in the process. They will be further buoyed by the return of Sergio Aguero.

However, defence remains a problem for Pep Guardiola’s side and Wolves are perfectly capable of exploiting these vulnerabilities, which is why we could be in for a high-scoring draw at the Molineux on Friday.

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