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

Manchester City welcome fellow title contenders Arsenal to the Etihad on Sunday. Who starts?

Manchester City v Watford - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Manchester City picked up their first win in the Premer League eague in what felt like ages on Wednesday night against Watford. City supporters will be hoping that victory can lead to a good run of form, particularly when Arsenal pay a visit late on Sunday to the Etihad. Arsenal are currently third in the league, one point ahead of City and level with second-place Liverpool. A victory here could see City jump as high as second place by the end of the weekend.

Of course at the top of the table are Chelsea, who continue their dominant run of form, winning eleven straight games. Both Arsenal and City will be keen not to fall too far below the league leaders, especially with Christmas on the horizon. A draw would see City sitting nine points back at the holiday, but a victory leaves the Sky Blues only seven back and two wins to the good.

City will need to be at their absolute best to beat this Arsenal side. Attacking players like Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil are extremely dangerous, especially to a team like City who struggle to keep clean sheets. City will need Claudio Bravo to be at his best here. City will almost surely begin the game in a back four, probably similarly to what we saw against Watford, but the personnel may yet change.

City are still without Fernandinho and Sergio Agüero through suspension and Fabian Delph, Vincent Kompany, and Ilkay Gundogan will all miss out with injuries. News broke that Kelechi Iheanacho had an issue that caused him to miss the Watford clash, though he should be ready for Arsenal.

Below are the eleven players I believe Pep Guardiola will select in the starting lineup against Arsenal. I believe they’ll use four at the back, but City might often switch between the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-1-4-1.


Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo

Despite recent reports of unrest from the Chilean keeper, he’ll maintain the City number one shirt until Pep dives back into the transfer market. City have been linked with a number of keepers, but this weekend Bravo has the job.

Defense: Pablo Zabaleta, Nicolas Otamendi, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gael Clichy

The same exact back four that played against Watford should get the start in this game. They weren't perfect but at the end of the day the clean sheet was kept, a rarity for City this season. Both Bacary Sagna and John Stones could easily make the starting XI but I believe Pep will favor stability over anything else, at least for this match.

Midfield: Yaya Touré, Fernando, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva

This was the hardest spot on the pitch to select. I believe Yaya and De Bruyne are automatics at the point, especially the way both played against Watfod. Sterling is also pretty much a lock because of his excellent width and play on the wings. Other than that, Silva hasn't been anything special the last few games and Fernando still has a lot of issues playing in a Guardiola midfield. However, without Gundogan or Fernandinho available, this is probably the best Pep can hope for. Perhaps a true winger can get a spot on the left flank, but that would mean either dropping Silva or having De Bruyne play deeper, both also possible but unlikely.

Striker: Nolito

This was another really tough choice. I firmly believe in Kelechi Iheanacho and I think he plays his best against better opponents. That wasn't the case against Chelsea and an issue kept him out against Watford. Facing the Hornets, Nolito impressed most City fans with his play at striker. He might not have gotten a goal, but the tenacity he showed for 90 minutes was admirable. The Spaniard is also a better passer and dribbler than Kelechi and starting with Nolito gives Pep multiple options off the bench.

Formation


So that’s our predicted lineup! Who do you think starts for City? Comment below!