The struggling Black Cats sit last in the standings and have lost their last two league matches. City go into the game on a three-match win streak, conceding just a single goal during that spell.
The race for a top-four finish is as tight as it has been all year, and momentum is key at this stage of the season. A match against lowly Sunderland couldn't have come at a better time for the Citizens.
Date: Sunday, March 5
Time: 4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (UK), NBC Sports (U.S.)
According to Geoff Sweet of The Sun, Sergio Aguero will likely keep his place in the City starting XI, with Gabriel Jesus still sidelined. Vincent Kompany is also a doubt, while Yaya Toure and David Silva are expected to return.
Sunderland will be without Victor Anichebe, Paddy McNair, Lee Cattermole, Duncan Watmore and Jack Rodwell, but Jan Kirchhoff has returned to full training. Papy Djilobodji will return from suspension.
Possible Sunderland XI: Jordan Pickford, Papy Djilobodji, John O'Shea, Lamine Kone, Bryan Oviedo, Sebastian Larsson, Didier Ndong, Darron Gibson, Adnan Januzaj, Fabio Borini, Jermain Defoe.
Possible City XI: Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, Gael Clichy, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero
Time is starting to run out for the Black Cats, who appeared to turn the corner with a big 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in Week 24 of the 2016-17 season but have since come crashing back down to Earth with back-to-back losses.
An inability to preserve clean sheets and close out matches has really hurt manager David Moyes' team. The Black Cats defence is far from the league's worst and the attack is led by the prolific Jermain Defoe (14 goals), so the team shouldn't be this far down the pecking order.
City's campaign hasn't been the rousing success people were expecting so far, but the Sky Blues appear to be rounding into form at the right time. After the 5-1 demolition of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth-round replay, Guardiola was very positive about his side, per the club's official Twitter account:
In large part, the upturn in form has been down to some of the team's younger players. Summer signing Leroy Sane is playing some of the best football of his career, and Aleix Garcia was fantastic against Huddersfield―he might have earned himself a starting position against the Black Cats.
Star striker Aguero has also been in fantastic form, scoring braces against AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League and against Huddersfield. It's hard to argue with his incredible statistics:
With Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings in midfield and City's defence finally looking up to the task, Guardiola will feel confident against Sunderland. Expect the Citizens to move the ball at speed in an attempt to isolate Defoe, Sunderland's main attacking threat.
The Black Cats will likely sit back and invite pressure, as most teams tend to do against City―per WhoScored.com, they lead the league in possession. But with so many attacking threats and momentum on their side, expect the Sky Blues to demolish the defensive wall before long.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-2 City