The international break is over!
City return to Barclays Premier League action on Saturday with a trip to the south coast to take on in-form Bournemouth.
Where will the game be won and lost? @markbooth_mcfc investigates.
With Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure ruled out for this one, will Manuel start one or both of City’s two returning creative architects, Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri?
There’s likely to be some rustiness for both to work out of their legs but there’s only one way to gain match fitness…
Pellegrini told journalists that neither are ready to play the full 90 minutes but hinted that they were in contention to start – with PSG coming up on Wednesday night, will he be tempted to throw Kevin and Samir straight back into the XI?
You’ll find out first here on mcfc.co.uk at 2pm on Saturday afternoon.
2 Making up for lost time...
Supporters might have forgotten what a City XI looks like with Samir Nasri in it – and not just because it seems as though he changes the colour of his hair every week!
The French playmaker has been a huge miss for the Blues this season, spending six months of the campaign on the sidelines with a serious thigh injury.
Nasri needed 100 stitches following a training ground accident which saw his muscle detach from his bone – a rare and unfortunate injury which robbed the 28-year old of the majority of his 2015/16 season.
His last appearance was actually against Bournemouth in the 5-1 win back in October and he’ll be even more eager than most to make a big impression in these final weeks of the season, starting at the Vitality Stadium.
Here’s a stat that losing most of its effect when place in context: City have never lost a match to Bournemouth.
The context: The teams have only met on seven occasions, with the first taking place in December 1987.
City have won five of these games and there have been two draws, including a goalless one in the last clash between the sides on 13 February 1999.
However, the Cherries are one of the in-form teams in the Premier League at present – only Leicester and Spurs have taken more than Bournemouth’s 28 points since December 1.
4 A swift recovery...
Kevin De Bruyne’s chances of playing another Premier League game this season looked bleak when he was stretchered off against Everton at the start of 2016.
From the second the Belgian playmaker went down it looked like a serious one and so credit must go to the club’s medical team and to Kevin himself for such a quick recovery from a knee ligament injury.
Any team would miss a player of De Bruyne’s quality – City have won eight of 17 games since Kevin’s been missing – a win percentage of 47.06%.
This ratio rises to 54.4% in matches Kevin has started for us this season – how good then to have one of our genuine match-winners back in the fold.
5 The run-in...
Before the international break, following the derby day defeat, we asked whether it was a good time for an international break.
In the space of little more than a month City saw the gap between themselves and table-topping Leicester grow from three points to 15 and, even more worryingly, West Ham closed to within a point of Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
It’s a stat that’s been recycled on far too many occasions for City’s liking in the last six months but that 5-1 win over Bournemouth back in October is still the last time we won back-to-back Premier League games.
We won our last six games of last season – can we put together a similar run at the end of 2015/16 to ensure Champions League qualification at the very least?
With international football now put to bed until the summer, a crucial eight weeks are on the way, both at home and on the continent.