- Benjamin Wolfe
Raheem Sterling closing in on history – Manchester City vs Wolves Preview
Fresh after winning the Manager of the Month award for the tenth time, Pep Guardiola pits his team against Bruno Lage’s Wolves’ team. City lead the pack at kick-off. This fixture has an average of 3.82 goals per game and is the highest in the English leagues (with a minimum of 60 games played).
City have a few new fitness issues that must be managed. Gabriel Jesus and Aymeric Laporte face fitness tests prior to the game, whilst Phil Foden and Nathan Ake both hobbled off in the midweek loss to RB Leipzig. Pep took the opportunity midweek to rest several key players, however, and his pool of fit players is still strong. Ferran Torres remains side-lined long-term with a broken metatarsal.
Predicted City XI:
Ederson; Walker, Dias, Stones, Cancelo; Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo; Sterling, Grealish, Mahrez
Referee: Jon Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry, Timothy Wood
Fourth official: Martin Atkinson
VAR: Andre Marriner
Assistant VAR: Matthew Wilkes
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Shown: BT Sport 1
City start the weekend off on top of the Premier League table. With them being handed the early kick-off, it would be nice to win the game, stay at the top, and watch everyone else scramble.
City beat Wolves in both games last season, scoring seven goals in the process.
That doesn’t mean this game is going to be easy though. Wolves find themselves in eighth place in the Premier League, just three points behind Manchester United. They have only lost twice in seven away fixtures so far and Adama Traore has scored more goals vs City (3) than any other Premier League team.
City though are far from a pushover, and mid-week dead rubber aside, are in lethal form. Bernardo Silva is putting in a season worthy of a Player of the Year award and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon. No midfielder has scored more than our Portuguese star, with six goals in his last eight games. The quality of the goals is sensational too, he’ll have the Goal of the Season compilation all to himself if he keeps it up.
The return of fans is going to be a blessing. I’d forgotten how bad empty stadiums were to play in, and an empty Red Bull Arena on Tuesday was a stark reminder I could have done without. Opposition fans have a warped view of the Etihad stadium, but City fans are far from silent. Football without fans is nothing.
The visitors have won just three of 23 top-flight away games vs reigning champions, although one of those was against City themselves two years ago. Pep would love to avoid a repeat of that, as would we all. With the returning Kevin De Bruyne to call upon, if necessary, City have more than enough for their opposition in the morning.
We fought very hard to climb to the summit, and it would be a shame to let it slip so quickly. Three points first, performance second. Just get the win.
Wolves will be missing Yerson Mosquera with a hamstring injury, Jonny with a knee injury, and Pedro Neto also with a knee injury. Willy Boly is back available for selection, as is Conor Coady in a nice boost for Bruno Lage.
Wolves don’t find themselves in any danger in the league, sitting comfortably in mid-table and far from thoughts of the dreaded drop zone. Teams that are fighting for their lives can sting you, but equally, teams that consider such a game a ‘free swing’ can surprise everyone.
Bruno Lage will likely instruct his team to sit back, but if he doesn’t believe he can get something from this game I’ll be surprised. Whether he really can or not, remains to be seen.
Predicted Wolves XI:
Sa; Samedo, Coady, Saiss, Kilman, Ait Nouri; Moutinho, Neves, Adama, Hwang, Jiminez
Wolves’ recent league form: LWDDL
Recent History vs Wolves:
City have a strong history against Wolves, having won against the West Midlands’ team ten times in the last 14 games. City have also only lost a single home game against Wolves in the last nine attempts. Whilst this fixture has the most goals per game, City tend historically to do the heavy lifting in that regard.
I fully expect City to win this game convincingly. I’m going for a 4-0 win for Pep’s blues. Wolves gave Liverpool a tough game last weekend, but we aren’t them. Another goal from Bernardo Silva, a goal from Joao Cancelo, a goal from Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling to score his 100th goal in the Premier League.
Written by: @CityReportBen Follow our Twitter account for reliable, live updates on all the latest news and everything Manchester City in real time.