We preface this as always by saying Manuel Pellegrini sees his squad on a daily basis, watches them close, has boatloads more experience and yet that won't stop us from making friendly suggestions about who should start in City's last match of an extraordinary week. One thing I really regret is not posting a poll about how many points City would get from matches against Arsenal, Bayern Munich and now Chelsea. I suppose being the optimist, I would have said a minimum of five and of course, that ain't happening. One of the smartest fans I know said three and I doubt any City fan thought we'd get less than that but guess what? A draw or worse tomorrow gets us less. This is by far City's most important match of the young season and frankly, considering recent performances by certain star players who wear #42 and fatigue, it's literally anybody's guess who gets the nod.
GK--Joe Hart who, in spite of a heroic performance against Bayern, is still one major mistake away from losing his position to Willy Caballero.
RB--Pablo Zabaleta and yes, Bacary Sagna played quite well but a fully rested Pablo gets the deserved nod. Besides, Zaba will be chomping at the bit to get after Eden Hazard.
CB--Vincent Kompany who is still our team MVP thus far.
CB--Martin Demichelis. I'm as anxious to see what Eliaquim Mangala can do as the next person but our back line has frankly been a strength this season (remember early last season when the opposite was true?). Tomorrow is--again--an enormously important match and there's just no reason to break in the favorite toy unless he's been lights out in training. Demichelis has been playing quite well for quite some time and that didn't change against Bayern. Stick with what's working and as mentioned, our back line has been working quite well.
LB--Aleksander Kolarov because Glichy played every minute against Bayern. Kolarov is fresher and he's looked good his last couple of appearances.
RM--Samir Nasri. I want to ask my fellow fans: is it my imagination or is Samir Nasri playing some damn fine defensive football? Serious question. Personally, I would've left Nasri in against Bayern. I think he's been terrific.
CM--Yaya Toure with this caveat; if he moves like he did against Bayern, we bring in Milner at halftime if not sooner. If Fernando was healthy, I'd lay money that Yaya would be sitting tomorrow.
CM--Fernandinho who might need some relief before the match is over after hard minutes against both Arsenal and Bayern. Outside of Kompany, Fernandinho has been our best player.
LM--David Silva. Like Fernandinho, he might be a little gassed but our best needs to go against their best.
ST--Sergio Aguero who will play behind the striker as a kind of an advanced CAM. Like Nasri, Aguero is underrated defensively.
ST--Edin Dzeko who showed an iron touch against Bayern but I think he'll be helpful against Chelsea; Dzeko is strong, can hold the ball (for better or worse) and is still awfully good in the air. He'll need to bring his best performance tomorrow and he's not alone.
It's an offensive team. Fernandinho will need to help out on the left side, Dzeko will need to make much quicker decisions than he did against Bayern. Nasri and Aguero need to convince the rest of the world what I am claiming to be true--they're both solid defensive players. And the elephant in the room is the performance of Yaya Toure. Half of me thinks a home match against a first place team is exactly the kind of match that will bring the kind of performance we all got accustomed to seeing last season. The other half of me thinks if he can't bring such a performance in a CL match against Bayern, something is seriously wrong. I'll repeat what I said earlier--if he's moving like he did this past Wednesday, he's out by halftime or we lose ugly.