• Daniel Gallagher-Parker

Everything you need to know, Predicted XI – Manchester City vs Brentford Preview

Manchester City invite Brentford to the Etihad Stadium for their final game before the World Cup begins in nine days. The game begins at 12:30 GMT for tomorrow's lunchtime kick-off, live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.

The Blues have the chance to go top of the Premier League with a win against Thomas Frank's side at lunchtime on Saturday. They could stay in 1st place throughout the World Cup, depending on how Mikel Arteta's Arsenal fair against Wolverhampton Wanderers later on in the day.

 

Team News and Predicted XI


In his pre-match press conference Friday afternoon, Pep Guardiola confirmed that Kyle Walker is still not fit enough to be included in the matchday squad.


Despite granting him an England call-up to the World Cup, England boss Gareth Southgate believes the right-back will be unavailable for England's first group-stage games.


Kalvin Phillips, among Walker, John Stones, Phil Foden, and Jack Grealish all to receive an England call-up, is once again fit enough to make the matchday squad. Phillips received his first set of proper minutes against Chelsea on Wednesday since signing for City from Leeds United in the summer.

Photo courtesy of Lewis Storey/Getty Images

The Englishman had only played a total of 14 minutes all season due to two months on the sidelines because of a shoulder injury.


The City boss also confirmed that Erling Haaland is "a little better", but the Norwegian will have to be assessed to see if he is fit enough for tomorrow.


Did Stefan Ortega do enough on Wednesday to retain his spot in the starting XI? I wouldn't say so. As impressive as he was, it wouldn't be a shock to see Ederson, who is vital to City's overall play, back in between the sticks.


With Walker ruled out for the final game before the World Cup, Guardiola could decide to opt for Joao Cancelo to play on the right and deploy Sergio Gomez as the left-back.


However, it is more likely that Stones starts at right-back, with Cancelo in Guardiola's preferred position for him, left-back. The Portuguese international has served his one-game suspension.

If anyone manages to guess the centre-back pairing correctly, well done. Based purely on the fact Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte played on Wednesday, we've opted for Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji. But it's Guardiola – so it could be any of the five centre-half options at his disposal.


Phillips is back in contention, but he probably isn't 100% fit enough to start ahead of Rodri. With De Bruyne receiving a full rest midweek and Bernardo Silva only participating for 40 minutes, they both may start in front of Rodri.


The front three of Riyad Mahrez, Julian Alvarez, and Grealish played exceptionally against Chelsea. Alvarez is in contention to start his fifth successive match, whilst Grealish had one of his best performances in a City shirt.


Guardiola said Mahrez is "back" in-form after "arriving late" to the season. With Foden out of favour at the moment, maybe he is one of the players that Guardiola was referring to about focusing on the World Cup too much; will the front three stay the same?


That all depends on the results of Haaland's Friday afternoon assessment.


Predicted XI:


Ederson; Stones, Akanji, Ake, Cancelo; De Bruyne, Rodri, Bernardo Silva; Mahrez, Haaland, Grealish

Photo courtesy of Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
 

Opposition


Brentford have only won once in all competitions since they defeated Leeds 5-2 on the 3rd of September. That one victory came on the 14th of October, 2-0 against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Frank's side are yet to win on the road in the Premier League this season. The Bees have played seven away games so far, drawing four of them and losing the other three.


They suffered a shock exit in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. They took an early through Ivan Toney but failed to build on that, with Gillingham forcing them to penalties and earning their place in the next round by winning 6-5 in the shootout.


With Toney not receiving an England call-up, you would imagine he will be fired up, with a point to prove to Southgate.


Only three sides have a worse defensive record in the league this season, as Brentford's defence have conceded a worrying 24 goals in 14 games. However, only one side in the bottom half of the table have scored more goals (21) than City's opposition on Saturday.


A win at the Etihad, dependent on other results, could see the away side head into the World Cup break in the top half of the table.

Photo courtesy of Clive Rose/Getty Images
 

Head-to-Head


Played: 15

Won: 9

Drawn: 1

Lost: 5


Before last season, City had not played Brentford in the 21st century, with their last meeting being a 1-0 FA Cup win in 1997.


City have only ever lost once at home against their opposition on Saturday, and that was on Christmas Day in 1937. Brentford also handed the Citizens another defeat two days later on the 27th of December. They were the visitors' first-ever wins against the Blues.


City have not lost to Brentford since 1989. That was also the last time the away side scored a goal against the Blues, with City managing to keep three clean sheets in a row.

 

Officials


Referee: Peter Bankes

Assistants: Eddie Smart & Nick Greenhalgh

Fourth Official: Darren Bond

VAR: David Coote

Assistant VAR: Nick Hopton

Photo courtesy of Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
 

Written by: @DanGP17_


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