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Manchester City vs Middlesbrough, 2016 Premier League: Team News, Preview, Predictions

Can City win three in a row before the international break?

Manchester City FC v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Remember the Barcelona win? Who am I kidding, we all can't forget it yet. That was such a crazy good night that it will be hard to recover from for a while. A sensational performance and a great result showed that Pep Guardiola CAN make City a great football team, and we saw glimpses of it in that magical Champions League night.

But the focus must turn back to the Premier League, as City remain tied in points with Arsenal and Liverpool and can't afford to drop points as the title race heats up. Aitor Karanka's Middlesbrough comes to town on Saturday, and that is not an easy team to face. Boro have the best defense out of the three promoted sides this season, and they have a talented squad with some very interesting players, including a City legend that never became a legend.

The challenge for Pep and his team this weekend is to not take the game for granted just because they beat Barcelona. It's another competition, another atmosphere, a completely different team with a completely different style of play, and if City don't pay attention, the Etihad will witness another famous result this week, but this time the Sky Blues won't be happy.


Date/Time: Saturday, November 5, 2016, 3pm local time, 11am ET, 8am PT (US), 8:30pm IST (India)

Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England

Referee: Kevin Friend

TV listings: NBCSN (US), NBC Universo (US - Spanish), TSN4 (Canada), Star Sports Select HD1 (India), elsewhere

Online streaming: NBC Sports Live (US), Telemundo Deportes En Vivo (US - Spanish), BBC Radio 5 Live (UK - Radio), elsewhere


TEAM NEWS

Man City: Bacary Sagna and Fabian Delph are the only injured players at the moment, which is incredible news when it comes to Manchester City. Both will be available after the international break, and the squad is looking really strong right now.

Claudio Bravo returns from his European suspension and will start in goal, with Vincent Kompany very likely to return to the side after 10 days off. Pablo Zabaleta risked an injury against Barça but came away from it healthy and is likely to play again, although Pep could play three at the back, which means Zaba drops to the bench with Kompany, Otamendi and John Stones in the back line.

Fernando, Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne are locks to start in midfield, but the rest is hard to figure out. David Silva and Fernandinho were pretty tired after the Barça game, so there's a chance both drop to the bench with Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling and Nolito looking to start on the wings. Sergio Agüero cannot be dropped, so he starts again on Saturday.

Middlesbrough: Victor Valdés reunites with Guardiola after the two enjoyed amazing success for four years at Barcelona, but that's not the only player from Boro who brings back memories: Alvaro Negredo, The Beast who had a spectacular start to his City career but was never able to replicate his success due to a bad shoulder injury.

Negredo was supposed to be a City legend, and his partnership with Kun Agüero could have won us a couple more titles. That didn't happen, Negredo bounced around and is now back in the Premier League. He'll probably be well received by the City crowd, and since every player scores against their former team in a big game, Negredo will score against City.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS


PREDICTION

We're just too good for Boro, even though the game will be tough. We'll take it with a comfortable 3-1 win in the end.