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Who Starts vs. Bournemouth? (UPDATED)

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De Bruyne, Delph and Nasri are back.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

(UPDATED: There are conflicting reports about Yaya Toure. He is definitely out for Bournemouth today and is likely out for the CL tie against PSG. It's very, very likely that one of either Kevin De Bruyne or Samir Nasri will not start and that Jesus Navas will. Predicting lineups more than 24 hours before a match is insane and fun.)

With eight games left, the part of the Premier League table that most concerns Manchester City looks like this:

#

Team

GP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Leicester City

31

19

9

3

54

31

23

66

2

Tottenham

31

17

10

4

56

24

32

61

3

Arsenal

30

16

7

7

48

30

18

55

4

Man. City

30

15

6

9

52

32

20

51

5

West Ham

30

13

11

6

47

35

12

50

6

Man United

30

14

8

8

38

27

11

50

Of the six teams above, City is in the worst form and it's not like it's close. In their last six, City has but one win and one draw against four league losses. They haven't had back-to-back league wins since before Halloween. I still say injuries are reason numero uno for City's extraordinarily ugly Premier League campaign and clearly the goal is no longer a league title but just finishing in the top four. Here's who's in and who's out for Saturday's trip to Bournemouth:

FRESHLY INJURED PLAYERS WHO ARE DEFINITELY OUT:

  • Vincent Kompany has a calf injury. No, not that calf. The other calf.
  • Joe Hart got Demichelised but might be back next weekend.
  • Raheem Sterling has a leg injury and might be out for the year.

INJURED PLAYERS WHO ARE HOBBLED BUT MIGHT PLAY:

  • Yaya Toure skipped his international call up because of an aggravated heel. He might be available to play.

PLAYERS WHO ARE BACK AFTER BEING GONE A LONG TIME:

  • Kevin De Bruyne is back after a ten-week absence.
  • Fabian Delph is back after his fifteenth injury (possible exaggeration).
  • Samir Nasri is back after many, many moons (no exaggeration).

So Manuel Pellegrini has a few more toys to play with as the team visits a plucky Bournemouth side (10 points in their last six matches which is better than some teams we can mention). The Cherries have been a .500 football team at home all season. Honestly, your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen this Saturday. Part of me thinks the City team that shows up is one that will blow the Cherries off the pitch and start the kind of late season run they've been known for. But another part of me sees a team that has been in the bottom ten of league performances since January. I don't have a clue what team shows up on Saturday but I have some decent guesses as to who will start.

GOALKEEPER: Willy Caballero Imagine how much less confident Caballero would be this Saturday if Pellegrini sat him down for the Capital One Cup final.

LEFT BACK: Gael Clichy During this dark time for City football, Gael Clichy has been perhaps City's best player. He's certainly been one of City's three best players. I've got a soft spot for Aleksander Kolarov but it appears we've seen the last of him.

CENTER BACK: Nicolas Otamendi He and the family came back early from the international break. As of now, he's City's best center back. That's not saying much.

CENTER BACK: Eliaquim Mangala The follies of Demichelis in the Derby overshadowed a competent performance by Mangala. He's got eight games to show he belongs in this league and even that might not be enough to keep him in a shirt next season.

RIGHT BACK: Pablo Zabaleta Of the players we currently have, which do you think will ultimately be serving City in a management/front office capacity? I think the two best candidates are Kompany and Zabaleta.

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Yaya Toure (UPDATE: He's out. Put Fernando here instead.)

CENTRAL MIDFIELD: Fernandinho Our best results since January have been with three center mids but Pellegrini likes the dual center mid pivot so I think we see that Saturday. I also think Pelle is eager to see both Nasri and De Bruyne.

LEFT MIDFIELD: Samir Nasri We'll see what he's got to offer.

CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELD: David Silva My mother's favorite player ever and I'm wondering if he isn't a little overrated (Mom's not happy with me). Check this out. It's a great stat. I just wish some of those many passes created more chances for our strikers.

RIGHT MIDFIELD: Kevin De Bruyne His injury probably cost him a position on the all-league team. I think next season is the one where we're going to see him take a step forward while Silva is asked to take a step back.

STRIKER: Sergio Aguero Is he better than Harry Kane? Is he better than Jamie Vardy? How about Romelu Lukaku? If he's truly the best striker in the league, he's got to start showing it by taking over some games for a team that is struggling during a crucial stretch run.