How Manchester City Will Line Up Against West Bromwich Albion

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How Manchester City Will Line Up Against West Bromwich Albion
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Manchester City go in search of only their second away win of the Premier League season on Wednesday evening when they take on West Brom at The Hawthorns.

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A magnificent seven wins from seven home games has been tempered by poor form on the road, with City managing just four points from a possible 18 away from the Etihad. As a result, they sit third in the table, six points adrift of leaders Arsenal, who continue to impress.

After Sunday's convincing 3-0 home victory over Swansea, it's likely Manuel Pellegrini will select a mostly unchanged side for the match with Steve Clarke's men.

That means Costel Pantilimon will keep his place in the side having replaced Joe Hart for City’s last five league matches. Pantilimon is yet to make a mistake, and although he doesn't look good enough to be City's No. 1 in the long term, he is firmly in possession of the goalkeeper spot for the time being at least.

The return of Vincent Kompany means he could well make his first appearance since sustaining a thigh injury against Everton in October. If the Belgian does start, either Joleon Lescott or Martin Demichelis will make way.

Pellegrini's team selections thus far have indicated a preference for a right-footed and left-footed central defensive pairing, meaning, with Matija Nastasic still injured, a return to the Kompany-Lescott partnership that was central to the club's title win in 2012 could be on the cards.

However, Demichelis has instantly become a regular having made five consecutive Premier League starts since his return from injury for the game at Stamford Bridge at the end of October, and he may be preferred to Lescott. Pellegrini, who worked with Demichelis at Malaga, clearly trusts the Argentinian.

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Pellegrini has often rotated his full-backs, particularly on the left side, so Aleksandar Kolarov may come in to give Gael Clichy a rest. However, Clichy’s improving form is likely to see Pellegrini stick with him for this one.

With David Silva still unavailable, the midfield quartet appears to be picking itself. Fernandinho and Yaya Toure have struck up an excellent understanding in central midfield, with Jesus Navas playing wide on the right, and Samir Nasri, who is fine form, drifting inside off the left flank. It's likely those four will remain unchanged.

In attack, City will almost certainly start with Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo, who have formed a potent partnership and already have 16 league goals between them. Pellegrini will surely not alter them for such an important match.

Expected City XI:

Pantilimon-Pablo Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy-Fernandinho, Yaya Toure-Navas, Nasri-Negredo, Aguero.

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With so many options available to him, it's difficult to second-guess Pellegrini's starting line-up, but he is beginning to figure out his best side. After making five changes for the Sunderland game and unexpectedly losing, he will be keen to make fewer changes for the game at The Hawthorns.

 

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

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