Manchester City's Predicted Line Up Against Chlesea

Tim OscroftContributor IOctober 25, 2013

There may not be too many changes to City's starting XI on Sunday from this one, which started in Moscow on Wednesday.
There may not be too many changes to City's starting XI on Sunday from this one, which started in Moscow on Wednesday.Epsilon/Getty Images

Manchester City take on Chelsea in a, if you will, battle of the Blues at the Bridge on Sunday. It should be quite an encounter, but how will Manuel Pellegrini set his side up?

It's a busy period for the Citizens, with a trip to the Russian capital in midweek safely negotiated, on the pitch at least. Let's hope that UEFA throw the book at CSKA Moscow for the disgraceful racist chanting aimed at Yaya Toure.

Three days after Chelsea, it's Newcastle away. But with all due respects to the Capital One Cup, the visit to west London is of paramount importance. 

Pellegrini's "A" team, or at least preferred 13 or 14 players, have become clear of late, as per Marc Higginson's live text on the BBC website just before kick-off in Moscow. That means good players like Samir Nasri, James Milner, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic are likely to be kicking their heels on Sunday but could be in action at St. James' in the cup tie that follows.

So, here's my lineup prediction for City vs. Chelsea:

Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Matija Nastasic, Vincent Kompany, Aleksandar Kolarov; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure; Jesus Navas, David Silva; Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo.

Fairly predictable, I'll accept that, but let's look at the evidence.

He's back! Possibly. Kompany is said to be fit for Sunday.
He's back! Possibly. Kompany is said to be fit for Sunday./Getty Images

I won't quite skate past Joe Hart, as his late block to deny Keisuke Honda secured a vital three points in Moscow. There's not been much discussion about Hart's place of late, but don't be surprised to see understudy Costel Pantilimon given a run-out at Newcastle.

Micah Richards had a welcome outing in the 3-1 win at West Ham, but I see Pablo Zabaleta retaining his place for Chelsea. It may be unlucky on Richards (who I like and rate immensely, although not as much as his main contender), but Zaba has looked like a first-choice thus far. Similarly, I take Kolarov to get the nod ahead of Gael Clichy with one eye on getting at Chelsea down the flanks.

The good news for City fans after the win in Moscow was Pellegrini reporting that captain Kompany is fit, per Stu Brennan in the Manchester Evening News. No more worries over Javi Garcia—a relief, following his up-and-down displays.

Fernadinho looks to be settling down in English football after a less than outstanding start, but class will out, as they say, and the Brazilian's partnership with Toure will continue.

If the breathtaking display in the win over United is anything to go by, then City will go for it against Chelsea, so Silva and Navas will provide the creativity before being rested for the Newcastle game in midweek.

Ahead of them...well, does Aguero's selection need elaborating upon?

The Argentine has been outstanding, with eight goals in six games, and is in a rich vein of form. Dzeko's legions of fans will disagree, but it looks like Negredo has emerged as first-choice striker—for now, folks, but that could change—and again I predict he will play at Chelsea before being rotated out for Newcastle.

But with such a deep squad, Pellegrini has the scope to spring a surprise, so this could all be baloney.

Don't forget to check in with Bleacher Report for all the usual coverage of what should be quite a match, with kick-off at 4 p.m. BST on Sunday.