Manchester City are away to Championship side Huddersfield Town in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Huddersfield sit third in the Championship and hope to make a run leading in promotion to the Premier League; City sit second in the top flight and have a Champions League fixture against AS Monaco to worry about next week.
Manager Pep Guardiola has displayed a desire to win every game City are involved in, but with a massive game against Monaco this week it might be time to see some City players currently on the fringe of the starting lineup. Gabriel Jesus has already had surgery and is set to miss an extended period of time, leaving Kelechi Iheanacho and Sergio Agüero as City’s two standard strikers. Other than Jesus and the continued absence of the injured Ilkay Gundogan, Pep could choose almost anyone for this game.
Below are the eleven players I believe Pep will select in his starting eleven on Saturday against Huddersfield. Expect a handful of changes, but more consistency in the attack as City look to keep their strong form heading into the Champions League. The 4-3-3 formation should also be in use here.
Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo
It seems the roles have officially been reversed and since Willy Caballero used to start the domestic cup games, expect Bravo to play this game in between the sticks.
Defense: Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Otamendi, Gaël Clichy
A wholesale change at the back. Kompany and Otamendi should return at center-back, giving Aleksandar Kolarov and John Stones a brief rest. Meanwhile, at full-back Zabaleta and Clichy can do a solid job and provide rest for Fernandinho and Bacary Sagna, both of whom will most likely feature against Monaco.
Midfield: Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernando
I fully expect Delph and De Bruyne to be featured in this game. De Bruyne is crucial to any challenge City make going forward, and Delph is someone Pep will want to see more from. Fernando is really a punt in the dark, because Pep could go with Yaya Touré or David Silva, but providing the veterans with a rest should allow the Brazilian to enter the starting lineup. Aleix García has an outside chance of taking Fernando’s spot.
Forwards: Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero, Leroy Sané
Sterling and Sané are in their early 20’s and there’s no need to rest the dynamic duo. Getting them more game time with Agüero can only benefit the trio considering they look to be City’s new front three going forward. It’s always possible Nolito or Jesus Navas get a run out but given how good Sane and Sterling have been it’s more likely Pep hopes to get more of the same out of the Englishman and German.
So that’s our predicted lineup. As for a score prediction, even though Huddersfield are impressing in the Championship, City should have enough to see off the lower division opposition. 3-0 with goals from Sané, Aguero, and De Bruyne see City through to the quarterfinals.