Manchester City’s Premier League 2019/20 opener sees the champions travel south to London to face West Ham, whom they will be hoping they can get the better of for the second time this summer, having bested the Hammers 4-1 during their pre-season tour of China.
Pep Guardiola and co have added real quality to a side already bursting at the seams with talent by acquiring the signature of Rodri, who is expected to succeed Fernandinho as City’s lynchpin once the 34-year-old’s contract expires next summer, while the addition of Angelino bodes well for the future.
Given the depth available to Guardiola, it’s difficult to predict how the Spaniard will approach the first game of the season on 10th August – the former Bayern Munich boss used 34 players last term.
Check out our three predicted XIs to face West Ham on opening day below…
Permitting that all players return from the tour without injuries, the current wounded work their way back to fitness in time for the Irons game and Guardiola gets another big name signing, this is what the travelling City fans could be looking at next month.
Joao Cancelo is on City’s radar and the Portuguese would be an interesting alternative to Kyle Walker at right-back. The Juventus man is a huge threat going forward, completing 1.4 key passes and 2.4 dribbles per game last term while England international Walker managed just 0.6 and 0.6 respectively, according to WhoScored.
The remainder of the team looks familiar, although a notable absence is Leroy Sane, who made just five league starts after January last term and could lose his left-wing spot to Raheem Sterling on a permanent basis, with standout performer Bernardo Silva shifted out to his original right-wing role.
While Rodri is still learning the ropes of his new role, Fernandinho should start as the anchor of midfield – the team just doesn’t tick the same way without the intelligent enforcer – and Benjamin Mendy returns as left-back having missed 33 games through injury in 2018/19.
Having won the title in consecutive seasons, Guardiola would surely love to make it a hat-trick in 2019/20, while he will also be keen on dethroning rivals and champions of Europe, Liverpool. Last season proved that any slips of form from either the Reds or the Cityzens are punishable – a torrid Christmas period saw City temporarily concede their lead at the top of the Premier League – and so Guardiola can hardly be blamed for fielding his absolute best sides throughout the season.
Should he take a risk and start some of the promising youngsters, though, this is how we see them being integrated – Phil Foden has already forced his way into the first team, while reported signing Correia could feature if he isn’t shipped straight out on loan. Meanwhile, opting for Oleksandr Zinchenko over Mendy or Angelino would be a huge vote of confidence in the Ukrainian utility man.
Gabriel Jesus might have been impressing for Brazil this summer, chalking up two goals and two assists in four Copa America starts, but Sergio Aguero pips the 22-year-old to the starting centre-forward spot every time – the Argentine recorded an incredible 32 goals and 10 assists in 46 appearances in all competitions last term, according to Transfermarkt.
Ederson is an ever-present in goal for the Cityzens, with his distribution crucial to their style, while John Stones should be trusted to start alongside Aymeric Laporte with Vincent Kompany having departed to former club Anderlecht.
The midfield, meanwhile, essentially picks itself when everybody is fit, rekindling the Kevin De Bruyne/David Silva partnership that helped drive City’s 2017/18 title bid.
Perhaps the key point to take from this starting XI though is that it doesn’t actually include any new signings. That’s indicative of City’s summer so far, but also how strong their squad is already.