Manchester City will make the trip to the south of England for a Monday night clash with AFC Bournemouth. Coming off back-to-back wins in the league, City will certainly be looking to walk away with all three points on Monday night. Luckily the Sky Blues do not return to the Champions League until the second week of Round of 16 matchups, which gives Pep Guardiola a little more breathing room when selecting his best eleven starters.
City are perhaps in their best defensive form of the season, having only conceded one goal in their last three games. This coming off of conceding six in the two prior games against Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. City supporters will notice the change in form has come with a change between the sticks.
Willy Caballero has started the last three games for City and has recorded two clean sheets. Pep is still backing Claudio Bravo, but the Chilean will have to prove in training he deserves to start games again.
Outside of the goalkeepers the big question on the supporters' minds must be concerning the front three. Sergio Agüero hasn't started in the last two league games and Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus seem to be flying, with the latter recording a brace in City’s 2-1 victory over Swansea.
It’s difficult seeing one of them being benched for Agüero, but the Argentine could force his way back to the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
Below are the eleven players I believe Pep will tap for starting roles against Bournemouth. City should line up in a 4-3-3 formation, with one deep midfielder and two going forward. Keep in mind City have an FA Cup match at the weekend, but Pep shouldn't worry about the fitness of any regulars.
Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero
One of two things can lead to another goalkeeper switch: either Caballero has an atrocious performance at some point or Bravo impresses enough in training to warrant another look. Based on how things were going before his benching, Bravo has a lot of work to do.
Defense: Bacary Sagna, Vincent Kompany, John Stones, Aleksandar Kolarov
City’s defense has been like a rotating carousel this season. Whether due to injury or lack of form, many of City’s defenders have gotten substantial game time. The only pick I feel confident about is Kolarov, who has featured a lot both at center back and left back. With Nicolas Otamendi apparently falling out of favor with Pep and Gaël Clichy somewhat of a liability, a center back pairing of Kompany and Stones shouldn't surprise anyone.
Midfield: Yaya Touré, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne
This midfield trio has played very well in the last few weeks. Touré’s defensive work and possession play have been excellent and Silva’s form is top notch. De Bruyne has had some hit or miss performances of late, but is a candidate for a monster game every time out.
Forwards: Leroy Sané, Sergio Agüero, Gabriel Jesus
This forward group would see the return of Sergio Agüero starting in his striker spot and the dropping of Raheem Sterling. Sterling going to the bench has nothing to do with his performances, it's about Agüero’s ability and Pep’s desire to see if the Argentine can work alongside Gabriel Jesus. Sané and Jesus are both in unbelievable form ,and Sterling knows how to make an impact off the bench.
So that’s our predicted lineup. As for a score prediction Bournemouth have no doubt focused heavily on defense in training this week after their drubbing at the hands of Everton last weekend. Even with that extra training from the Cherries, City should still have enough to break the game wide open. 3-0 with goals from Jesus, Agüero and Sané should see City to the three points.