Pep Guardiola has shuffled his pack for the EFL Cup game against cross-town rivals Manchester United, making nine changes from the side that drew with Southampton at the weekend. Given City’s busy schedule, rotation was always likely for this one.
Starting XI: Caballero, Maffeo, Kompany, Otamendi, Clichy, A Garcia, Fernando, Nolito, Iheanacho, Sane, Navas
Subs: Gunn, Gundogan, Sterling, Aguero, Adarabioyo, Fernandinho, Kolarov
Youngsters Maffeo and Garcia start
Pablo Maffeo has been pushing for a place in Guardiola’s side for some time – and with both Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna out injured, he has been handed his second start of the season.
Maffeo, 19, is a hugely talented young player who has impressed playing for the club’s academy teams. He is quick, enjoys getting forward to support attacks and is capable of producing excellent deliveries in advanced areas.
It’s also a fine opportunity for Aleix Garcia to continue his rise. He started in the third round of this competition away at Swansea and took home the Man of the Match award after a superb display that showcased his range of passing and his ability to get forward and score goals.
It was a mature, accomplished performance – and he deserves his chance to build on that at Old Trafford tonight.
Kompany continues recovery
It’s been a difficult two years for Vincent Kompany, having suffered a number of muscle injury problems. But he’s back in contention now and starts for the second consecutive game, having managed 78 minutes of the 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday, his first Premier League start since April.
It’s crucial for City to get him back in the side on a regular basis. Kompany is arguably the finest central defender in English football when he’s fully fit and at the top of his game.
Tonight is another opportunity for him to prove his fitness worries are being put behind him.
Caballero preparing for the Champions League
With Claudio Bravo suspended for next week’s home game with Barcelona in the Champions League, Willy Caballero steps into his shoes tonight in what could prove to be crucial preparation for Tuesday’s match against the La Liga giants.
It would have been a big ask for the Argentine to come in and play against the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez after over a month without a competitive start.
Having played a back three twice in recent weeks, it seems Guardiola has opted for a four-man defence this evening.
Garcia and Fernando will sit deep and offer further protection - and that should allow Nolito, Jesus Navas, Kelechi Iheanacho and the in-form Leroy Sane freedom to attack.
Can United stop City?
City will look to repeat their Premier League performance against United: building from the back and dominating the midfield battle, with possession absolutely vital.
Jose Mourinho looks to be trying combat this by deploying both Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick.
They will need to try and get a grip in midfield. City were utterly dominant in that area back in September and it was the key to their victory.