Boy, what a problem Manuel Pellegrini has today. He has to decide which of his amazing attacking players to start today. The four players that I think are guaranteed to start as part of the attacking four are David Silva, Stevan Jovetic, Edin Dzeko, and Jesus Navas.
With Sergio Aguero coming back from a knee strain, will he get a start today? When asked about Aguero, Pellegrini said "He is fine, no problem. He has worked with us normally for the last 10 days so he is not a problem." I think that it's more likely that he comes off of the bench around the hour mark, to ease his way back into fitness.
The other player that's most likely to get a run off of the bench today is Alvaro Negredo. Samir Nasri will also be available, but he's finding himself the odd man out, with all the attacking players we have.
Matija Nastasic is still out with a ankle injury (although I've seen it mentioned as a knee problem, and also a foot injury. The rags can't keep their stories straight), so I think that we're in for a long day of watching Joleon Lescott out there next to the captain Vincent Kompany. If you can't tell, I'm more than a little tired of watching Lescott. Other than that, all of our choices in the back of the midfield and in defence are available.
For Newcastle, they are missing their one big signing, Loic Remy, until at least September. On top of that, they are also missing their first choice left back, Davide Santon, AKA the man responsible for keeping Jesus Navas in check. In his place, Newcastle are likely to give 21 year old Paul Dummett his Premier League debut. Welcome to the big leagues kid! Good luck marking one of the fastest wingers in the world.
If that's not enough for Newcastle, history is also set against them. They haven't beaten us since 2005. That's 13 straight games without a win. We've won the last 7 that we've played them. In addition, they've never won at the Etihad Stadium, going 0-2-7 there.
Likely Starting Lineup
I think we start Dzeko up front, with Jovetic on the left, Silva in the middle, and Navas out on the right. Yaya Toure and Fernandinho will be our deep midfielders, and Gael Clichy, Lescott, Kompany, and Pablo Zabaleta in the back.
What to Watch for
I'm going to be keeping an eye on the following things.
1. How often does Jesus Navas drag multiple defenders out wide to cover him, and how much space does this leave in the middle and on the opposite wing? Does this give Dzeko a little more space and time to turn and shoot?
2. How wide does Jovetic play, and how much does he cut inside? Will he and Silva swap places?
3. How often does Yaya rampage forward, and how often does he hang back? I want to see a good understanding develop between him and Fernandinho. Last season it seemed that Yaya never really trusted his array of midfield partners (Gareth Barry, and Javi Garcia especially) to shield the back four effectively. It seemed that he was playing deeper, not able to rely on them. If Yaya can learn Ferna's tendencies and strengths, it will allow him to move farther up field, which is something that everyone wants to see.
What are you looking for from today's match?