Predicted Man City XI vs. Stoke: Pep to field a physical back four to combat Potters – City Watch

City Watch

Following the slightly disappointing but ultimately meaningless mid-week loss against Basel, Pep Guardiola’s men will travel to the bet365 Stadium on Monday to face Stoke and hopefully take another big step towards a now almost certain Premier League title.

The Potters are in acute danger of relegation and without a win in the past five games. Paul Lambert, who replaced former City manager Mark Hughes at the helm in January, has been able to stabilise the defence, but the team still lacks goals and is in dire need of improvement and points.

Here’s my predicted team…

After having massively rotated the team against Basel, Guardiola can be expected to return to his strongest line-up, which would see Ederson replacing Claudio Bravo.

With Kyle Walker being rested for Danilo in mid-week, the England full-back is certain to start. Neither Stones nor Laporte were particularly convincing against Basel and might thus make way for the return of Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany. With Delph likely to miss the game, I would go for Danilo at left-back as the Brazilian provides more defensive cover against Stoke’s infamous physicality than Oleks Zinchenko would.

In midfield, City fans can anticipate a return of Fernandinho, which also provides Ilkay Gundogan with a well-earned rest. The two remaining positions essentially pick themselves as Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva form perhaps the best midfield duo in European football at the moment.

Gabriel Jesus, despite his goal against Basel, is likely to return to the bench in the place of in-form forward Sergio Aguero. Similar to Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling has been back in training for quite some time now and would replace Bernardo Silva on the right wing. This would see Leroy Sané retain his spot on the left wing.