The season has long been over for Manchester City – even before football’s three-month hiatus – but that doesn’t mean they’re taking their foot off the pedal, as evidenced by their 5-0 victory over Burnley on Monday.
Indeed, Pep Guardiola’s side have scored eight goals and conceded zero in their first two games back, despite no longer competing for the league and the fact that they might not even be playing Champions League football next season.
They face a trip to west London on Thursday, where they will face Chelsea, in what will be their toughest fixture since the season’s resumption. Here is how they should line-up ahead of that match.
Ederson (GK) – The Brazilian shot-stopper has started nearly every league game for Manchester City over the last three seasons and is almost certain to be relied upon again for their clash with Chelsea. He has been in impressive form this season, keeping 11 clean sheets – the joint-highest in the league.
Kyle Walker (RB) – Despite the (expensive) arrival of Joao Cancelo in the summer, Guardiola has preferred Walker over him this season, with the 30-year-old repaying the Catalan’s faith with some top-drawer performances.
Nicolas Otamendi (CB) – The Argentinian has been the subject of criticism for his performances this season, but, as his performance against Burnley proved, he is still one of the most competent defenders City have.
Aymeric Laporte (CB) – Though he has yet to play the full 90 minutes for City following his lengthy lay-off due to injury, the 26-year-old should be given a start against Chelsea. The Citizens’ best defensive option by quite some distance, supporters must have been relieved when he returned to fitness in January.
Benjamin Mendy (LB) – The 25-year-old has endured his fair share of injuries since his arrival at Eastlands in 2017, making just 32 league appearances in two seasons. He is now fit and has looked sharp since the season’s resumption, and the game against Chelsea might be a chance for him to improve further.
Rodri (DM) – The Spaniard has been justifying his £62.8m price-tag with his performances this season, having the highest pass success rate (92.5%) out of every City midfielder. At the age of 24, it would be fair to say that we have still yet to see the best of Rodri. A very promising player indeed.
Kevin De Bruyne (CM) – A behemoth of the game, the Belgian international is having his best season yet at the Etihad, recording a total of ten goals and 19 assists in 37 appearances. He tops the league assists charts with 16, meaning he is well on-track to beating his current Premier League record – 19.
David Silva (CM) – A loyal servant to City, David Silva is set to leave the Etihad at the end of the season after ten years at the club, helping them to win four league titles during that period. Despite now being 34, the Spaniard is still putting in good performances for the Citizens, scoring four goals and making seven assists.
Riyad Mahrez (RW) – The former Leicester City title-winner has been in fine form since football’s resumption, assisting a goal and scoring two of his own in his last two games. Indeed, this season has arguably been his best yet at the Etihad, having already scored nine goals and making 11 assists.
Gabriel Jesus (ST) – With Sergio Aguero out injured, it is almost certain that Gabriel Jesus will get the nod to lead City’s front-line against Chelsea. A consistent goalscorer without really being spectacular, Aguero’s layoff gives Gabriel Jesus the chance to prove to Guardiola that he can be prolific.
Raheem Sterling (LW) – Who else? The England international continues to prove he is one of the world’s best players with his consistently great performances. Sterling has already reached 20 goals (in all competitions) for the season, an impressive feat for a winger.