After City’s devasting performance in the FA Community Shield, where they simply blew away Chelsea, they must now turn their attention to the commencement of the 2018/2019 Premier League Season and a visit to the Emirates Stadium, once again in London.
Quite how it is that the Champions normally start a new season on their home turf against the division’s cannon fodder, but City have to go to the capital to play a top-six contender remains one of the secrets of St George’s Park, but I suppose you have to get these matches out of the way.
For once the Gooners have invested quite heavily and Unai Emery, their first post-Wenger manager, will not be looking to become the new David Moyes. New footballers have arrived in town, to accompany the new chief, Stan Kroenke has made a bid for a total takeover and it is all change at the Ashburton Grove Bottling Factory.
More established critics than me are suggesting Arsenal are getting City at the right time, before the season pattern is established, but taking into account the way City destroyed Arsenal twice in a week starting with the Carabao Cup, and in the light of the Community Shield performance, I would not be getting too excited if I was an aficionado of North London’s second finest.
So, putting yourself in the shoes of Pep Guardiola, who would you send out to play on Sunday? I think last week’s selection at Wembley has thrown down a marker. We witnessed a sensational performance by Bernardo Silva in the footprints of his namesake, David. We saw Sergigol get among the goals early improving on his records and scoring his 200th goal for Manchester City. There was the emergence of a more mature Phil Foden to the extent that his manager has now pronounced him ”ready for the Premier League”, after a few fleeting visits to the field last season.
I think Ederson, Walker and Mendy are almost self- selections. Centre back could be a perm of any two from four. I see Stones and Kompany as the most likely pairing, especially as Laporte took a slight injury. General Otamendi could be the fall guy, although if he is selected he won’t let the Blues down.
Is midfield the area where some players may be given the advantage of another week’s rest after the World Cup, or will David, having seen what Bernardo had to offer in the World Cup and at Wembley, be chomping at the bit to reclaim his shirt? I think Fernadinho is a given, but the 8 & 10 roles could be a topic of debate. I’m expecting De Bruyne to start, with maybe Bernardo in the number 10 role.
Although Pep clearly sees Gabriel de Jesus as the key man up top, I’m still seeing Aguero in the striker role flanked on the left by Sane and on the right by Mahrez. Raheem Sterling played all the way to the semi-final of the World Cup and although his efforts were maligned by the less intelligent members of the written and broadcasting media, his later return from holiday but be the key to his exclusion this time.
It will be back to the bench, sadly for Phil Foden, a bench that will probably contain Bravo, Delph, de Jesus, Diaz, Otamendi, and Gundogan. Frightening. Every one of them, even Claudio the Clown would be an automatic starter in most other Premier League sides. Instead, they are setting their sights on getting on to the field to prove they are better than the one they replace.
So, the Pedmachine is going with Ederson, Walker, Stones, Kompany, Mendy, De Bruyne Fernandinho, Bernardo, Mahrez, Aguero, Sane.
Do you agree? Let me know in the comments!