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Manchester City vs. Watford, 2016 Premier League: Predicted Lineup

Man City look to get back on track in the Premier League on Wednesday against Watford at the Etihad.

Manchester City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Manchester City are without question in a crisis at the moment. Their inability to keep clean sheets is starting to have a detrimental impact on their place in the standings. Early on in Pep Guardiola’s regime City supporters saw a lot of 2-1 or 3-1 victories, now with City struggling to score and create, the lack of defensive responsibility has become an issue.

With only two clean sheets in the Premier League season, City have to turn around their troubles quickly and now is the most difficult time of year to do it. City will play host to Watford and Arsenal in a four-day stretch and both teams are more than capable of putting a poor defense to the sword. Guardiola might be facing the toughest task of his managerial career, with an ailing defense and a rampant Chelsea pulling away in the league, Pep must find a way to pick up three points on Wednesday.

In terms of what players the manager might select, surely we won't see another back three. City have never kept a clean sheet when playing in this formation, and while the attack can be very good the defense is too porous. So with the 4-1-4-1 Pep has preferred in the past, which players should be included? Remember Fernandinho and Sergio Agüero are both still suspended.

Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo

Luckily for the Chilean, backup keeper Willy Caballero hasn't shown any inkling of taking the starting job from the underperforming Bravo. With City being linked to every keeper in Europe somewhat competent with the ball at their feet, it is now time for Bravo to put up or shut up.

Defense: Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Aleksandar Kolarov

Well, these are the four best defenders City have right now. Pablo Zabaleta has been alright at times this season as well, but Sagna should play at right back where he is most comfortable. Otamendi returns from suspension and hopefully can sort out John Stones, who has been poor recently. Left back is a disaster position at the moment for City. Usually steady Gaül Clichy has fallen apart defensively and early season revelation Kolarov has begun reverting back to poor tendencies of late. Youngsters Angeliño and Pablo Maffeo might get a look in soon if things don't turn around for the older players.

Midifield: Fernando, Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Nolito

"Keep it simple, son." That should be the instruction to Fernando, his role is simply protect the back four and act as the link between defense and attack. When tasked with too much, Fernando just looks lost. Silva and De Bruyne are fairly close to no-brainers, though Gundogan might get a shout ahead of one of them. Out wide City would benefit greatly from the width Nolito and Sterling provide, as well as their defensive cover and Nolito’s finishing ability.

Striker: Kelechi Iheanacho

It may sound crazy but Kelechi might be playing for a future in this squad. Yes the Nigerian is very young and has played extremely well for City so far, but with Gabriel Jesus on the way and Agüero off suspension by New Year's Eve, Iheanacho might find his place is muddled if he has another performance like he did against Leicester.


So that’s our predicted lineup. I’ll never predict City to lose, so let’s be super optimistic and say City win 2-0 and hopefully gain some momentum going into another huge game at the weekend against Arsenal.