The international break is over and City are back in Barclays Premier League action with a tough away clash with in-form Crystal Palace.
Will the Blues avenge their disappointing defeat in South London last season? Here are five things to look out for in Saturday’s game.
Will De Bruyne start?
Our newest recruit had supporters licking their lips over the international break as he showed just why City paid the money to bring the Belgian playmaker to the Etihad Stadium.
A Man of the Match winning performance against Bosnia which saw him set up and score a goal was the perfect way to celebrate his move but will he be thrown straight into the line-up for Saturday afternoon’s clash at Selhurst Park and, if so, where?
Leading German football journalist Rafael Honigstein said in his ESPN column: “Though capable of playing on either flank, from where he's a superb crosser, De Bruyne has been flawless for Wolfsburg playing centrally because he has so much freedom of movement.
“He can dart right or left, nip back into midfield and then sprint forward to link up with the striker.”
Would Manuel Pellegrini put David Silva out on the right flank to make space for De Bruyne centrally or would seniority prevail? Will De Bruyne have to be patient to wait for his debut?
One thing is for sure, a tough decision awaits Manuel on Saturday afternoon.
Changing a winning team…
Understandably, Pellegrini’s rotation has been almost non-existent in the first four rounds of the season.
With only one game a week to think about and with City tearing up defences and club records like so much wet tissue paper, the boss has only made one change to the starting line-up all season, bringing Sergio Aguero in for Wilfried Bony after the first game of the season.
Since, our team announcements on social media have been a copy and paste job but that could change after the international break.
Bacary Sagna has trained but was forced off with an injury in France’s friendly win over Serbia, meaning he may well be in a race to be fit which is a blow seeing as Pablo Zabaleta was ruled out for up to a month a fortnight ago.
Will Bacary be passed fit? Will Nicolas Otamendi deputise and debut there? Or, will there be a first game for young Pablo Maffeo who was so impressive for the Elite Development Squad in that position last season?
We should know more after Manuel's media address on Friday afternoon.
First v Second…
Few would have predicted that this early season meeting between City and Crystal Palace would be the meeting of the division’s top two teams before a ball was kicked.
The Eagles have defied all expectations of them and sit just behind Manuel Pellegrini’s side after four games thanks to victories over Aston Villa, Norwich City and, most impressively, Chelsea.
That victory over the champions at Stamford Bridge was no fluke – Alan Pardew’s men rolled over their more illustrious opponents with a performance which showcased their near-indomitable blend of togetherness, organisation and no little skill.
International break gains…
So far this season City have favoured a system with Sergio Aguero alone up front which has given increased freedom to the support cast of Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Jesus Navas as defenders have doubled up on Kun in a bid to stop last season’s Golden Boot winner.
Sergio has been far from quiet in the opening weeks of the season but one goal in four games is down on his batting average and no goals in two games qualifies as a drought by his stratospheric standards.
However, Aguero proved that he is still the deadliest striker around in Argentina’s games against Bolivia and Mexico, delivering three goals and four assists, meaning he’s returning to Manchester in top form as City attempt to maintain their perfect start to the season.
Premium Premier League…
The strengthening of the league’s middle order was widely discussed over the summer break and it’s one possible reason as to why Palace are riding so high in this embryonic Premier League.
Thanks to a new lucrative TV deal which is more evenly spread than in other top leagues around Europe, clubs all over England are now attracting a higher calibre of player, making for a more competitive English league than ever before.
Could Crystal Palace have tempted a player of Yohan Cabaye’s quality from PSG a decade ago? Perhaps not and the league is arguably better as a spectacle for the fact that these transfers can now be pulled off.
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