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Who He Should Start vs. Sunderland

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We're Minus One Captain, Among Others

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Let's play a game. Who said this?

"It's incredible the way we lost this match," said (fill in the blank) afterwards. "Sunderland played really well, particularly defending, especially for a team that is in a really difficult position. So I understand the way they played, but they had just one chance at our goal and they scored. We had all the possession, we had all those chances but we didn't score."

The answer? Our current manager last November. You know what's funny about this quote? Some version of this has been uttered by every City manager, player and fan for four years now. Has there been a more torturous fixture for our beloved squad? Four straight years of 1-0 defeats at the Stadium of Light. Four straight of years of walking away from the northward trip shaking our heads wondering what the hell hit us.

Our latest must-win fixture occurs just three days after Sunderland's terrific effort against Chelsea, three days after our huge win at Southampton, with Sunderland getting an extra day of rest. I'm not worried we'll have a letdown and history will repeat itself. I'm flat-out terrified, thanks for asking.

Oh, and did I mention our best defender and captain is hurt? That Mangala is serving a suspension? That Silva, Dzeko and Kolarov are still out? That Nastasic was last seen on a milk carton? Seriously, pass the alcohol--any kind will do.

The lineup:

GK--Joe Hart. Outside of a hiccup against Bayern, has he made any bad plays? Incredible save against Southampton, great positioning, no gaffes to speak of... might be our second best player. He's going to need to be on his game today what with every first-line defender under the age of 30 out of action.

LB--Gael Clichy, who certainly won't be complaining about playing time.

CB--Martin Demichelis, an obvious choice.

CB--Bacary Sagna. I just don't see Pellegrini putting Dedrick Boyata here in a road match of this much importance.

RB--Pablo Zabaleta.

RM--James Milner. Nothing has brought me more joy recently than the play of Jesus Navas who has been particularly good on the defensive end. That said, Milner is better rested and an even better defender.

CM--Fernandinho. We're starting to see the guy who was oh-so-good last season. Fernando will be at the ready in case his fellow Brazilian needs a rest.

CM--Yaya Toure. He was terrific against Southampton. Make a point to notice the first few minutes of today's match. If he's moving well, he'll have a good game. If he's not, we're in for another long afternoon of wondering if Pellegrini will remove him at halftime. I suspect he'll play well.

LM--Samir Nasri. Another guy who had a wonderful effort against Southampton. He appears to be all the way back from his injury.

ST--Stevan Jovetic.

ST--Sergio Aguero and yes, I am also concerned about the build up in minutes for the best player in the Prem.

Prediction: City 2-1.

Poll! You know what to do.