Pep Guardiola made a couple of changes against Napoli, resting Kyle Walker and having Gabriel Jesus and David Silva play only the final minutes of the game in Italy. City played well and won despite not having three key players, which shows the depth of this team and also gives us a hint that Walker, Silva and Jesus will start.
So with those three players seemingly locked there are eight left, and it’s pretty easy to guess them: Ederson Moraes in goal, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi in the center of defense, and Fabian Delph at left-back; Fernandinho will be the holding midfielder with Kevin De Bruyne ahead of him alongside Silva; with Gabriel Jesus up front we’ll see Sergio Agüero and Leroy Sané, though Raheem Sterling also has a chance to start over Agüero or even Jesus, though Gabriel will most definitely play.
Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva have a small chance of starting, but they’ve been the most effective as substitutes and will probably be on the bench again. The strongest possible City team has to start against Arsenal, and because of the depth of this squad we have no idea what’s the strongest possible team. That’s good news!
Predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Jesus, Agüero, Sané
Bitter and Blue XI (as chosen by you!):
Ederson; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Jesus, Sané
Arsène Wenger had the luxury of resting all of his starters on Thursday’s Europa League match against Red Star Belgrade, so the Gunners will be at full strength and full fitness at the Etihad.
Wenger has played a 3-4-3 formation since the end of last season, and it was that formation that beat City in the FA Cup semi-final last April. Although Shkodran Mustafi is out with an injury, Wenger has enough defenders to play three (or five) at the back on Sunday, which is a good invitation for the City attackers to run at Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal, who don’t exactly have pace as their main strength.
In midfield, Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey will have a tough job trying to break down the passing ability of the Blues, and they’ll need help from Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez, who need to track back so the team isn’t outnumbered in the middle of the park. Alexandre Lacazette will be Arsenal’s hope of goals, and the Frenchman has made a good enough start to his life in the Premier League to earn a lot of attention from the City defense.
Arsenal aren’t the favorites to win, but they’re definitely good enough to get a result at the Etihad. After all, they’re the last team to beat the Blues.
Predicted XI: Cech; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerín, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Özil, Lacazette, Alexis