The latest test of Manchester City’s new-look side comes against newly promoted Cardiff City in Wales. The fluidity of the Manchester City attack in the 4-0 win over Newcastle United was breathtaking and represents the early stages of Manuel Pellegrini’s efforts to implement a more high-tempo game at City.
Key to this new approach will be midfielder Fernandinho, City’s most expensive summer recruit from Shakhtar Donetsk. His energy and ability to press high up the pitch worked brilliantly against Newcastle, continually winning back possession in advanced areas and allowing City to mount dangerous attacks.
What was most striking in the win over Alan Pardew’s men was the ability of City’s forward players to seamlessly operate in a variety of positions. Jesus Navas, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and the reborn Edin Dzeko were constantly popping up in different areas of the pitch, meaning that Newcastle found it very difficult to know who to pick up. If this slick style of football continues, City will be very difficult to beat this season.
The major question for Sunday’s match against Cardiff is who will play at the heart of the City defence after injuries to Vincent Kompany and Micah Richards left them short of options. Matija Nastasic has trained all week and could be fit but if he isn’t we could see Javi Garcia forced into emergency action like we did in the closing stages on Monday night’s game.
Despite not scoring in the first match, Dzeko is likely to keep his place after an impressive all-round display. A player, who appeared to be struggling during the final stages of Roberto Mancini's time at the club, looks like a new player under Pellegrini, and the Chilean looks set to give him the chance to prove his worth.
I expect them to line up as a 4-2-3-1, but with the flexibility to play 4-3-3 when they have the ball.
Predicted line up: Hart - Zabaleta, Nastasic, Lescott, Clichy - Toure, Fernandinho - Navas, Aguero, Silva - Dzeko
City's subs will be chosen from Pantilimon, Wright, Kolarov, Richards, Barry, Milner, Nasri, Razak, Sinclair, Jovetic, Negredo, Guidetti, Milner and Garcia.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @TypicalCity