The League Cup (IT IS NOT THE CARABAO CUP ON THIS WEBSITE) is back! The least important competition in the English calendar returns this week with the fourth round of matches taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Manchester City finally have a decent draw.
Pep Guardiola and his men welcome Wolverhampton to the Etihad on Tuesday night in what marks the first time in 219 years that City don’t get a Cup tie away from home against a Premier League team. Although they’re facing the high-flying leaders of the Championship, the Blues are playing at home against a team from a lower league. They’re big favorites.
Because of that, we will probably see a big rotation of the squad from Guardiola. Let’s take a look at the probable selection from the boss.
With two away games next week against West Bromwich Albion and Napoli and a very tough home match against Arsenal to come before the international break, Pep will no doubt use Tuesday as an opportunity to rest most, if not all of his big players. Guys like Kyle Walker, Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva will probably not even be in the squad, while John Stones, Fabian Delph and Leroy Sané could be on the bench but will not be used if things go to plan.
Another change will be in goal, given Claudio Bravo started the last League Cup game and was very good against West Brom. This is a good chance to rest Ederson Moraes for the tough week ahead, and Bravo deserves to play again and show that he’s not as bad a keeper as we saw last season.
The defense should be totally different from the weekend, with youngster Tosin Adarabioyo and Eliaquim Mangala as the center-back pairing. Danilo Luiz will replace Walker at right-back, and the biggest selection of the night is at left-back: young Oleksandr Zinchenko, originally a midfielder, has been training in the position for the last several weeks and will have his first chance to play at left-back.
In midfield, Yaya Touré and Ilkay Gundogan are certain to start with Bernardo Silva completing the trio. Up front Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus will be on the wings, with Sergio Agüero as the striker. Agüero will be looking to build his fitness having returned from injury against Burnley, and Sergio can also make history and break Eric Brook’s all-time scoring record.
Predicted XI: Bravo; Danilo, Adarabioyo, Mangala, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Touré, Bernardo; Sterling, Agüero, Jesus
We usually do predictions for the opponents as well, but given that we have absolutely no idea whether Nuno Espírito Santo will stick with the team that is scoring a lot of goals and playing so well in the Championship or make eleven changes like he did in the second round against Southampton to prioritize their league campaign, we won’t even try to predict their XI. Sorry about that.
Man City: Bravo; Danilo, Adarabioyo, Mangala, Zinchenko; Touré, Gundogan; Sterling, Bernardo, Jesus; Agüero
Wolves: Norris; Bennett, Batth, Coady, Hause, Vinagre; N’Diaye, Price; Marshall, Enobakhare, Hélder Costa