On Saturday afternoon Manchester City travel down to London to take on an ailing Crystal Palace side in the fourth round of the FA Cup. City will be grateful for the distraction from the Premier League, as things haven't been going particularly well for the Sky Blues in the league this year. The FA Cup might represent the best chance at silverware this year for Pep Guardiola and his team, so expect a sense of urgency.
Considering this is another FA Cup match against a Premier League side, a strong side will probably be used, although some rest and rotation could do wonders for the squad. New boy Gabriel Jesus could almost certainly feature after his brief debut last weekend against Tottenham.
Exactly how much City rotate will be based on how dangerous Pep and City believe Palace will be. Sam Allardyce has struggled to get his team to play well since taking over for Alan Pardew, but the Eagles are still capable of causing City some big trouble. What isn't a concern is the formation, as City will most likely use the 4-3-3 it used against Spurs, with one midfielder playing further back connecting the defense and attack.
Below are the eleven players I believe Pep will choose to start against Palace in this fourth round FA Cup match.
Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero
Willy has been the guy in domestic cup competitions for some years and nothing tells me Guardiola is going to change that. While Claudio Bravo could use the game time and perhaps a confidence boost, Caballero looks to get the start in this one.
Defense: Bacary Sagna, John Stones, Aleksandar Kolarov, Gaël Clichy
In the back line Sagna looks to be the perennial backup at this point so this start should be his. Stones and Kolarov could partner in the center as rest for Otamendi could certainly be helpful. Vincent Kompany seems to be still a little bit away from a return, so the Belgian might not feature again. Clichy gets the start at left back with Kolarov playing in the middle.
Midfield: Aleix García, Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne
Both Aleix García and Fabian Delph are fully fit and need some game time to show if they can contribute the rest of this season or if a loan move would be better. Fernando could feature if fit, but a rest for Yaya Touré and David Silva should do the elder pair a world of good. De Bruyne should play as he’s younger and can be the furthest forward in midfield.
Forwards: Leroy Sané, Gabriel Jesus, Nolito
The forward line can be nearly fully rotated thanks to the attacking talent City have. Jesus, Nolito, and Sané can easily produce goals and all three are capable of playing any attacking position, which will make Pep a happy manager. Giving rest and a break for Raheem Sterling will be good and Sergio Agüero could feature to regain his confidence, but allowing Jesus and Nolito to start together should be considered.
So that’s our predicted starting lineup for City against Palace in the fourth round of the FA Cup! A score prediction? City tend to play well when outside of the stress of the Premier League and Palace are in awful form. A 3-0 victory for City could certainly be on the cards. Goals from Sané, Jesus and De Bruyne send City to the Round of 16.