Pep Guardiola will contend with his biggest selection dilemma of the season as he prepares his Manchester City side for Saturday’s derby at the Etihad Stadium.
City can clinch the title by beating their local rivals but Guardiola told his players in the lead up to Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Liverpool that he would rest several big names against United, in a bid to keep them fresh for the second leg against the Merseysiders.
After losing 3-0 at Anfield, Guardiola may feel even more determined to rest his star names on Saturday, in a bid to keep everybody fresh for a big push in the second leg. At the same time, however, he may decide that the players and fans need a lift, and that a historic victory against United should be achieved with a full-strength squad.
MAN CITY INJURIES
Guardiola’s decisions aside, Sergio Aguero is fighting to be fit for Saturday’s game after missing three weeks with a knee injury. He was not fit enough to face Liverpool in midweek but is hopeful of returning for the next two games.
Benjamin Mendy is in training but is some way off a first-team return.
Fabian Delph has been out of the squad since he was sent off at Wigan, as a result of suspension and injury, but he returned to the bench against Liverpool and could be recalled.
MAN CITY SUSPENSIONS
Neither side have any suspensions.
MAN CITY POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
Sadly for Fantasy Football players, it is harder than ever to predict what Guardiola plans to do this weekend.
On the one hand he could pick his strongest XI, which has become more or less straightforward to predict, or he could go the complete opposite way and rest his most important players. There’s even the possibility that he will settle for a halfway house and rest just a handful of starters. We realise that is not very helpful.
The likely candidates to be rested are Vincent Kompany (who may not be able to play three games in six days anyway), Fernandinho, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
City also have some variation in defence, with Danilo capable of playing as a full-back on either side, and John Stones ready to step in at centre-back. Delph could also come back into the side, either as a left-back, or even in midfield if Guardiola decides to rest Fernandinho, Silva and De Bruyne.
Aguero’s return to fitness would also allow some natural rotation up front.
If Guardiola does stick to his plan and rests many of his big names, City could line up like this.
If Guardiola decides to play a strong line-up, they will look a little more recognisable.
MAN UTD TEAM NEWS
United have no new injury worries, with Sergio Romero still missing after picking up a knee problem playing for Argentina against Italy during the international break. Daley Blind continues to recover from ankle trouble, but has yet to start a league fixture since August in any case ahead of a likely summer exit.
Mourinho confirmed last week that both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are in a position to challenge for places, and Marouane Fellaini should be OK to join the matchday squad once more having failed to make the 18 against Swansea City last Saturday.
OPTA MATCH FACTS
- Victory for Manchester City will see them be crowned English top-flight champions for the fifth time, and third time in the Premier League.
- Should the Citizens win the title here, they’ll have done so with more games to spare than any side in English top-flight history.
- Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola could become the third manager to win the title in England and at least two of the other big five European leagues, after Carlo Ancelotti (3) and Jose Mourinho (2).
- Manchester City have done the double three times over Manchester United in the Premier League, only Liverpool have done so more often in the competition (4).
- Manchester United have lost eight of their last 13 Premier League games against Man City (W3 D2) – their previous eight top-flight defeats against Man City came over a 49-game period stretching back to March 1978.
- Man City are unbeaten in their last 27 home league games (W22 D5), winning the last 14 in a row. Only twice has a team ever had a longer winning run at home in the Premier League (Man City 20 between March 2011 and March 2012, and Man Utd 19 between October 2010 and October 2011).
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
Kick off is 17:30 GMT (12:30 ET) on Saturday, April 7, and will be shown on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. It will be shown on NBC in the United States, and on various channels around the world.