Manchester City are without a number of key players when they begin their Premier League campaign at Wolves tonight.
Striker Sergio Aguero is definitely out as he continues to recover from knee surgery, while City confirmed that midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is in self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19. Aymeric Laporte, who has also been isolating in the last fortnight, misses out too.
Those absentees pave the way for new signings Nathan Ake to make his debuts for City tonight, against a Wolves side who did the double over the Blues last season, as well as taking a point from Pep Guardiola’s men at Molineux the year before. John Stones is recalled to p[artner the new boy in central defence.
Ferran Torres is among the substitutes, as are youngsters Liam Delap, Tommy Doyle and Adrian Bernabe.
Wolves won their opening match of the season last weekend, but lost in the Carabao Cup to Championship side Stoke, and have lost key man Diogo Jota to Liverpool this week.
Rodri gets into a crossing position on the right, but drives a ball with the outside of his boot towards the far top corner. It wasn’t far off, either!
Gabriel Jesus flicks on to a forward run by Kevin de Bruyne, who strides into the box and takes aim with his left foot, but Patricio is equal to it.
Here, every pass however long seems placed and to a teammate. Sterling picked out Foden in the box for the goal, Mendy recently played it back for the young Englishman. It is precise and it is quick and it is too much for Wolves to handle.
Phil Foden gets the ball from, guess who, Kevin de Bruyne on the right side of the area.
He cuts back onto his left foot and attempts to curl it into the far corner but the ball goes high and wide. Nice try.
Then, Adama Traore gets past Benjamin Mendy just by the area and goes down as their legs tangle. Bit of a harsh booking for Mendy, that.
As good as the Blues are on the ball, they are also being tigerish off it to ensure that absolutely nothing gets in on Ederson’s goal. So far so excellent.
Kevin de Bruyne feeds Raheem Sterling, who cuts back to Phil Foden to convert from the penalty spot. Lovely goal, and City are in total control.
Great passing work on the right hand side sees Raheem Sterling get a sight of goal, but his shot from a tight angle is saved easily. Good play.
Stones had plenty of stick for his defending last season, but his attacking play is very good.
He has been steady at the back so far, and his quick, early pass to Foden opened up Wolves for the penalty.
Kevin De Bruyne has looked sharp all game and he knew exactly what he was doing there to win that penalty.
He knows where the opponents are going to be as much as his own teammates.
A confident start, but with a lack of fitness the question is how long City can keep up this excellence.
Kevin de Bruyne picks himself up and buries the penalty to the delight of thousands of Fantasy Football managers.
Steady start from the Blues, but no clear chances yet – Sterling threatening and Jesus lively.
More importantly, no alarms at the back, giving Stones and Ake time to bed themselves in.
The Wolves frontline look ready to pounce whenever John Stones is on the ball. Expect a lot of focus on the former Everton man tonight – especially if Wolves keep that specific attention up.
Marcal, who is playing City for the second game in a row after joining from Lyon, has to be replaced early on. Ruben Vinagre is on.
City have started the brighter side, and it seems like it’s Rodri in defensive midfield and Fernandinho switching between that position and a more central midfield role.
Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden are roaming in the attacking midfield areas, with Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus seemingly in a fluid front two.
Raheem Sterling gets the ball from Willy Boly and wants a penalty when Conor Coady challenges for the ball.
They train really good. This team can have a good things or bad things but always train good.
They are good, exprienced players, physicality, incredible manager. What they do last five years they do same process, same routine and they do it really well.
Liam Delap has posted from the City dressing room (before the team news was announced, we’ll add!) with his City shirt.
There was a mixed reaction to this evening’s team news, with John Stones one particular inclusion that puzzled fans.
That City back four won’t have eased the nerves of City fans going into this game.
Ake on debut, Stones in from the cold after some dodgy displays last season, and Mendy returns to the scene of the crime – he was highly culpable last time City played at Molineux, and lost.
But that front five of Fernandinho, KDB, Foden, Jesus and Sterling is a little more encouraging.
City might not have had many more difficult opening games than this one given the circumstances, but they can set a Premier League record if they can take three points tonight.
Eric Garcia has added to that lengthy illness/injury list, missing tonight due to a head injury.
We had all presumed it was his desire to leave, with Barcelona on the case, which had seen him left out of the squad, but it’s yet another injury.
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