Predicted Manchester City XI to play Manchester United

Manchester City go into the Manchester derby this weekend knowing they can create a gap over Manchester United.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side haven’t made the best start to the Premier League campaign but their confidence will be high following a convincing 3-0 win against Plzen in the Champions League during the week.

Here is the side the Chilean could go with.

GK – Joe Hart

Hart remains the best goalkeeper at City and one of the best in the Premier League. His overall command of his penalty area is as good as it’s ever been and his distribution skills are very important in terms of starting attacks and setting up counter attacks.

RB – Pablo Zabaleta

The Argentinean will be important defensively and offensively during this game. United often look to utilise the left wing in their attacking play, which means Zabaleta has to be right on his guard but when Patrica Evra presses forward, it leaves a lot of space which Zabaleta can exploit.

CB – Vincent Kompany

It was superb for City to see Kompany return to the starting line-up in mid-week. He will keep his place in the heart of the defence. He’s good enough to soak up any pressure that Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie can put together, plus his timing is superb in terms of knowing when to step out of defence.

CB – Matija Nastasic

Nastasic still looks a little way off of the form he was producing at times last season but he will benefit from having Kompany back next to him. He reads the game well and he’s as quick as anyone else in the back four.

LB – Aleksandar Kolarov

Pellegrini won’t take any chances with Gael Clichy if he hasn’t recovered from the knock that kept him out of the game at Stoke and the match in Plzen. Kolarov is good enough to fill in, offering a clear threat going forward to supply width. His pace is good enough that he should be able to drop back into position quickly.

RM – Jesus Navas

Pellegrini will want to keep Navas on the pitch for the threat he offers from a wide position. He is the perfect player to have out on the right hand side and he could give Evra nightmares, pinning the United defender back inside his own defensive third.

CM – Kolo Toure

Toure has been one of the stand out performers at the club so far this season. His ability to provide an attacking threat from a variety of positions means it will be difficult for United to come up with a plan to keep him quiet over the course of 90 minutes.

CM – Fernandinho

Fernandinho is likely to play for similar reasons. There is a worry that when he and Toure play together, it threatens the back four but Toure is mature enough to drop back and play the sort of role he played at Barcelona when the side is under pressure.

LM – James Milner

Don’t be at all surprised to see Milner starting down the left. It’s not his natural position but he’s a safe bet in terms of protecting the midfield and protecting Kolarov. He can but inside to help out centrally and he can fill in for Kolarov if United counter attack.

ST – Sergio Aguero

Aguero has been successful in the past against United and he’ll start this game. He’s the most important forward that City have available. It’s unlikely that he’ll start on the shoulder of the defence, with a more realistic role that of the forward who drops off to link up with the midfield.

ST – Edin Dzeko

Dzeko played well before he was eventually taken off against Plzen. His size and presence allows him to pin the United defence back, which creates more space for the likes of Toure and Aguero to exploit in front of the defence. He also offers that natural aerial threat.

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What do you think? Should Nasri start on the left? Does Kolarov need protection?

image: © alfonso jimenez

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