Pep Guardiola has already had a taste of cup football with Manchester City this season, but after an unceremonious exit of the EFL Cup, Pep and his squad will be looking for advancement in England’s premier Cup competition. Guardiola has already gone on the record saying how special the FA Cup is and with ample time between Premier League games, there won't be much rotation in Pep’s squad for the trip to London Stadium.
This means supporters should see a full strength side, but who exactly makes up City’s best eleven?
Certain positions such as striker and goalkeeper should be automatics, as should the inclusion of a certain Belgian midfielder. Outside of that though Pep could go with a number of different options, particularly in defense and in the defensive midfield. Regular starter Fernandinho is set to miss the next four games due to a second straight red card of the season and his missing presence could be an issue for the Sky Blues.
Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo
City’s main man between the sticks for the foreseeable future is Claudio Bravo. Supporters and pundits alike have been very tough on Bravo recently and his lack of ability to deal with high balls. One big performance from the Chilean can change the narrative quickly.
Defense: Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Gaël Clichy
At this point in time, these four are City’s best defenders available. Captain Vincent Kompany still seems a bit away, even though he is training now. Aleksandar Kolarov is a mess and Pablo Zabaleta loses out to the consistency of Sagna. Otamendi and Stones have had times this year where they’ve been good and others that have been filled with mistakes. If Nico can provide a sense of leadership for the young Stones, perhaps there is a title-winning partnership there yet.
Midfield: Yaya Touré, Fernando, David Silva
Yaya Touré has been good since being allowed to rejoin the squad, and while he has had bad games as well, the Ivorian seems to shine against weaker opposition. Fernando is the like-for-like replacement of Fernandinho and while City could set up as a more attacking team, it might behoove Pep to opt more defensive in midfield at the start and let his forwards do the hard work. David Silva remains one of the best in England and playing him in an attacking midfield role should provide City’s forwards with enough quality to score.
Forwards: Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne
Leroy Sané has an outside chance at featuring in this one, and even if the young German winger plays it will probably be off the bench. Since Sané isn't available, De Bruyne can occupy the left flank while Sterling gets his favored position on the right. Sergio Agüero should get the start up top after an inspired second half against Burnley on Monday.
So that’s our predicted lineup. As for a score, Pep should take this competition seriously as it may be his only chance at silverware this season. City will win 2-1, they can't keep a clean sheet to save their lives but hopefully can simply score more than their opposition in this game.