Manchester City are set to face Nottingham Forest for the first time in over a decade on Wednesday, August 31st at 7:30 pm (BST). The game will be broadcast live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.
For the first time this season, the Premier League champions will play three games in a week; following tomorrow night’s fixture against Nottingham Forest, City are set to play Aston Villa this upcoming weekend.
Pep Guardiola has played it coy when asked about Erling Haaland’s starting status for tomorrow, telling reporters “tomorrow you will see”.
"When Erling doesn't play, we play Julian. Almost sure. We are all really impressed by his pace, sense of goal, his work ethic, for many things."
Julian Alvarez has impressed so far despite his lack of minutes. The former River Plate forward was involved in the equaliser and match winner this weekend. And his consistent pressing sticks out amongst the rest of the City attacking line. The 22-year-old will be itching for a start.
Guardiola was also asked multiple times about how often the Blues have been forced to come back as of late. City have gone behind by two goals in their past two games, four out of their last six if you go back to last season.
"We have to try to avoid it. In the past years when we were down, it was difficult to come back, we've improved and can do it. We have to avoid it as much as possible. It's risky, one day we won't be able to come back."
As for the lineup, Guardiola has got himself in a bit of a conundrum when it comes to his midfield and forward line preferred XI. After coming on as a substitute this past weekend, Ilkay Gundogan showed his importance to the team. And although Bernardo Silva’s first start on the right wing against Newcastle wasn’t particularly stellar, he kickstarted the comeback against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Neither Riyad Mahrez nor Jack Grealish have had a ton of minutes to prove themselves yet, but it appears as though they will have to wait for squad rotation in the coming weeks to get more minutes.
Despite playing it coy when asked about Haad, I do expect him to start tomorrow. I doubt he will go the full 90, but the Norway international needs to build his match fitness.
The availability of Nathan Ake, Jack Grealish, and Kalvin Phillips was not discussed in the open part of Guardiola’s pre-match press conference, and it remains to be seen if the topic was brought up in the embargoed section, which is to be released at 10:30 pm BST on Tuesday.
Ake, however, has been pictured by club photographers partaking in training with his teammates ahead of tomorrow’s game, suggesting the Dutchman could be part of the matchday squad for Forest’s visit.
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Alvarez, Haaland, Silva
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: City start their seasons off slow. Four games into the campaign and the past two matches have already been filled with misplaced balls, poor buildup play, and plenty of goals against the run of play.
The move away from a false nine has brought some key tactical changes, and so far, there have been times where our defence looks more like the dishevelled unit of 19/20 instead of the rock-solid core we have had over the past two title-winning campaigns.
It is still very early, most of the squad still needs to be brought up to speed. And fortunately for City, Haaland doesn’t appear to be struggling to adapt to the Premier League.
With six goals and an assist in his first four starts, the Norwegian has been vital in coming back from the brink against both Newcastle and Crystal Palace. And his first hat trick for City this weekend offered a glimpse of what’s to come for the rest of his time in Manchester.
It remains to be seen what will happen in regards to losing the false nine. Early evidence points to less control and more susceptibility on the counter, but it also adds the potential of a goal at any moment.
League Position: 14th
Top Scorer: Awoniyi, Johnson (1)
Previous result: L 0-2 v Tottenham (H)
It’s been an interesting start for Steve Cooper and Nottingham Forest in their return to the Premier League season. The Tricky Trees are in the top division for the first time this century and despite only mustering two goals through the opening four league games, they have shown a lot of promise.
In typical fashion, they are a newly promoted side showing flashes of pushing for a mid-table finish. While many upstart newcomers flame out by winter, few newly promoted sides have brought in anywhere near as many reinforcements.
With nearly 20 incoming players, Forest are approaching an unprecedented level of upheaval. Their marquee signing so far has been Morgan Gibbs-White from Wolverhampton, but they have also secured Renan Lodi on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid.
However, the upheaval appears to be working so far. Despite only being in 14th, Nottingham Forest have looked a real threat on the counter so far this season. Despite losing against Tottenham this weekend, Cooper’s side were a few moments of decent finishing away from upsetting Antonio Conte’s title challengers.
Head to Head
The two sides have not faced each other since 2009 when Forest, who were competing in the Championship at the time, won 3-0 to knock City out of the FA Cup.
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistant Referees: Neil Davies & Timothy Woods
Fourth Official: John Brooks
VAR: Mike Dean
Assistant VAR: Adrian Holmes
Written by: @IVIeehan
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