How Manchester City Will Line Up Against West Ham United in EPL Title Decider

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How Manchester City Will Line Up Against West Ham United in EPL Title Decider
Jon Super/Associated Press
City supporters are looking for more scenes like this one at the Etihad on Sunday.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has submitted dozens of XIs in his first year in charge at the Etihad.

This last one Pellegrini will pick for the 2013-14 season is arguably more important than any of those that came before.

You might argue that his line-up choices for all of the Champions League matches, for the League Cup final and for the Premier League matches against Chelsea and Liverpool were all more significant.

If immediacy carries the day for you, you might say that Pellegrini's XI's from the moment Liverpool's Steven Gerrard fell down were the most important; from then on City played the remainder of their league matches with the title under their own control.

Maybe. But none of those matches were played with the Premier League trophy at stake.

Part of Pellegrini's task is pretty simple. Joe Hart will be in goal. Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis will be the centre-backs. Pablo Zabaleta is a mortal lock to be at right-back.

Yaya Toure, David Silva and Samir Nasri are virtually certain to start in the midfield, and any XI that does not include Edin Dzeko (five goals in City's last three league matches) would have to be dismissed out of hand.

That makes eight nearly guaranteed starters.

Jon Super/Associated Press
"Don't worry about this one, Danny. You miss it, we lose."

The other decisions are tricky. With the season on the line, do you trust Aleksandar Kolarov or Gael Clichy more at left-back?

Is Fernandinho healthy enough to start? And as well as Javi Garcia has played in the past few weeks, would you dare take him out?

Can you chance putting Sergio Aguero in the XI knowing that most likely he will have to be taken off before half-time again?

If Aguero cannot go, do you send Alvaro Negredo or Stevan Jovetic out as a second striker, or do you pack the midfield with five (including James Milner) and let Yaya improvise on the offensive end?

Call it conservative or even lazy if you like, but there really is no good reason for Pellegrini to change even one element of the XI that ultimately decimated Aston Villa in City's penultimate league match.

That XI played with confidence and purpose, and most importantly they did not start panicking when the scoreboard still read all zeroes 63 minutes in.

City enjoyed 75 percent of the possession against Aston Villa. If they hold the ball for that length of time against West Ham United, it is difficult to imagine City getting breached. The obvious bears stating: If the Hammers do not score, City win the league.

Then again, if City put their supporters through a 0-0 draw (or a draw of any kind, really) against a West Ham side City have beaten 12-1 on aggregate through three matches in all competitions this season, shame on the Sky Blues.

It really should not come to that.

City's predicted XI against West Ham: Hart; Kolarov, Kompany, Demichelis, Zabaleta; Milner, Nasri, Yaya Toure, Garcia, Silva; Dzeko.

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