Changing of the Guard for Blues line-up
PEP Guardiola’s switch to three-atthe-back has made his Manchester City starting XIs harder to predict than ever in recent weeks - and often it is only when the teams line up for kick-off that his selection makes sense. That was the case against Manchester United this week, when Guardiola opted against starting recognised strikers Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus, instead using Bernardo Silva as a central attacker to run from deep in behind United’s back line. The tactic proved effective and City produced one of their best halves of the season at Old Trafford. But Guardiola is unlikely to adopt the same approach at Aston Villa.
Aguero can equal the Premier League record for top goalscorer by a foreign player with a goal at Villa Park and he is surely the favourite to come into the attack.
But that leaves Guardiola with a decision to make, as he will have to drop one of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo, Kevin de Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan - who all excelled this week.
You would expect Gundogan to be the unlucky one to drop out, although he has proved important to Guardiola over a busy December. If City play three at the back again, their midfield will likely consist of De Bruyne and David Silva.
That would mean Bernardo dropping to the bench despite his masterclass at Old Trafford, but Guardiola is used to resting key players.
With Aguero leading the line, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez can offer support, slightly tucked in from the wing to allow wingbacks Kyle Walker and Aleks Zinchenko space to get forward.