Manchester City

Man City predicted lineup vs Brentford - Premier League

Grey Whitebloom
Pep Guardiola has lost one of his last 13 Premier League matches against newly promoted sides
Pep Guardiola has lost one of his last 13 Premier League matches against newly promoted sides / NIGEL RODDIS/GettyImages
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Table-topping Manchester City conclude an extraordinary calendar year of Premier League football with a trip to Brentford on Wednesday evening.

Even adjusting for the varying tally of games played by the ever-present Premier League clubs in 2021, City still rise to the top across the board; earning the highest proportion of wins (81%), scoring the most goals per game (2.6) and conceding the fewest (0.7).

Here's the XI Pep Guardiola may select to cap off an imperious 12 months.


Man City predicted lineup vs Brentford

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Nathan Ake could get a start as others are rested
Nathan Ake could get a start as others are rested / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Ederson (GK) - When you only have to make two or three (on a bad day) saves a game, simply keeping warm for the rest of the 90 minutes is surely a key concern for Ederson this time of year.

Joao Cancelo (RB) - Deemed the best fullback in the world by his national team manager Fernando Santos - an even greater sign of the consistency and quality of Cancelo's performances is his appearance in all but one Premier League game so far in the ever-changing City XI.

Ruben Dias (CB) - The reigning FWA footballer of the year isn't harming his chances for a repeat win by anchoring the defence that has not only conceded the fewest goals in Europe's top five leagues, but the fewest shots as well this season.

Nathan Ake (CB) - While Aymeric Laporte has been restored to the first-choice defensive pairing, Ake may come in to afford the Spain international a rest after his teammate started each of City's last four games in 15 days.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB) - With Kyle Walker set to remain unseen since a brainless sending off against RB Leipzig (through injury rather than a prolonged punishment), Zinchenko may well make a fifth consecutive Premier League start for the first time since the summer of 2019.

2. Midfielders

Veteran Fernandinho could keep his place
Veteran Fernandinho could keep his place / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Fernandinho (DM) - The likely absence of Rodri leaves the role at the base of City's midfield to the squad's oldest member (the 36-year-old has four months on Scott Carson) who has played there once or twice before.

Kevin De Bruyne (CM) - A tally of zero Premier League assists may look glaring, but the Belgian has created chances worth 3.4 expected goals (per FBref) this term - the largest figure in the division for a player yet to lay on an actual goal.

Ilkay Gundogan (CM) - For a midfielder that had previously shown little propensity for scoring, it's even more remarkable that only two players have netted more Premier League goals in 2021 than Gundogan (15).

3. Forwards

Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva
It doesn't matter that City lack a proper 'number nine' / Alex Pantling/GettyImages

Raheem Sterling (RW) - Five goals in his last four Premier League appearances (as many as in his previous 24 outings) has helped Sterling sneak into the role of the club's leading scorer so far this season.

Bernardo Silva (ST) - The standout individual among City's blossoming collective doesn't escape the uncertainty surrounding every Guardiola starting XI - though it's more a question of where, rather than if, Bernardo will play.

Phil Foden (LW) - Despite a sharply worded warning tossed his way by Guardiola over the festive period, the Catalan coach may afford Foden his first start in a fortnight to provide the defence-tearing width City often apply to tease open spaces against a five-man backline.


You can read 90min's preview of Brentford vs Man City here.

You can read Brentford's predicted lineup here.

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