Manchester City vs Sunderland - Match preview and predicted line-ups
Generally speaking, Manchester City fans will be happy with their first game of the season. They haven’t lost to Sunderland in the last seven outings and David Moyes has done nothing in the transfer window to inspire hope for the Black Cats, leaving Citizens feeling optimistic going into the game at the Etihad.
On the other hand, Pep Guardiola’s restructuring project is going ahead at full speed. The signing of John Stones is a vital addition to a waning City back line, and Nolito is sure to add a direct cutting edge for the Citizens, easing the reliance on Sergio Aguero.
The central midfield remains to be a concern for City fans. With new signing Ilkay Gundogan not yet fit following an injury prior to signing, and preseason showing little to reassure fans that players further down the pecking order can be relied upon, the middle of the park could be the area that Sunderland choice to exploit.
That being said, Fernandinho continues to be an absolute rock in midfield, and if he maintains his preseason form, he’ll be a vital asset to City against Sunderland.
Sunderland progressed well throughout their preseason friendlies. The Black cats went unbeaten over the course of six games, including a 1-1 draw at Bundesliga hopefuls Borussia Dortmund.
In contrast to the stereotype of negative football surrounding new manager David Moyes, averaged two goals per game over the fixtures, a possible indicator of the style of football Moyes is looking to cultivate at the Stadium of Light.
City fared less well over the course of their training for the season. Their only victory also came against Dortmund after a penalty shootout, but a 1-0 to Bayern Munich and a 3-2 defeat to Arsenal fell either side. City demonstrated an impressive pressing game under their new manager, something that will only be refined by the time the first game of the season rolls around.
Predicted line ups:
Man City predicted starting XI Sunderland predicted starting XI
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Injuries and suspensions
City are no stranger to injury problems, especially where captain Vincent Kompany is concerned. The Belgian suffered a thigh strain in the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid in the tail end of last season, but is estimaed to return in early September. New signing Ilkay Gundogan is expected to be fit not long afterwards after a knee injury suffered prior to signing, while there is no news on fellow recuit Leroy Sane’s hamstring problem
Sunderland fans would’ve been concerned but a week ago, with key men Jan Kirchoff, Jermain Defoe and Billy Jones all visiting the treatment room. Latest estimates suggest that all three will be back in time for the trip to the Etihad, a considerable relief given Jones is current David Moyes’ best choice at right back. Set piece specialist picked up a minor knock recently and isn’t expected to feature, yet should be back in contention soon.
Opening games of the season are always tough to predict. While City have looked slightly off the pace in preseason, their less rigorous schedule will have given their new manager plenty of time to drill his unique philosophy into his team.
David Moyes was the definition of consistency in his time at Everton, and even his doomed spell at Manchester United showed that he can build a very solid defensive team that can score goals as well.
Despite that, Manchester City have an overwhelming amount of incredible players in their line-up. With the progress their new boss will have made in the last couple of weeks, they’ll doubtless be a force to be reckoned with, especially on home turf.